The emotional bond of customer loyalty may not appear on your business’s bottom line, but ignore it and you’ll quickly see how important customer loyalty is to the survival of your organization. By Flavio Martins, January 2014,Winthecustomer.com
To create better, more effective customer loyalty, your have to craft a customer experience that combines elements of physical, emotional, and transactional value for your customers.
Most business industries today really work in commodities. Your specific type of product or service, from your customer’s point of view, is less unique than you think it is.
Customers today are bombarded with options and are constantly being pitched by competitors to switch and save. With the high cost of customer acquisition in many industries, ongoing customer loyalty is critical for organizations to remain profitable.
7 Key Elements of Organizations With Massive Customer Loyalty
Generating the type of customer relationships and bonds with customers that keep customers engaged and loyal requires connecting with customers on an intellectual, emotional, or even a spiritual level that makes your customer experience more than just a typical transaction. In essence, the experience becomes more human interaction, than business necessity.
1. Be totally upfront about bad news
Customers crave transparency and reward organizations that are totally upfront in good times and bad. Buffer, an online social media sharing service that I highly recommend and use every day, recently had a security issue that compromised the sharing service for many of their customers. Rather than denying it took place, the Buffer team was totally honest and upfront, and most importantly timely in their response.
Rather than angry mobs the customer response was actually positive with encouraging words for the team as they worked on a fix. Buffer enjoys even strongercustomer loyalty because of their transparency and emphasis on solving issues for their customers. Specifically look at how often the Buffer team updated customers during the situation and then the overall response of customers in the post comments.
2. Be generous with good news
One frequent frustration customers have is that companies are so quick to reward new customers and at the same time ignore existing, long time customers. Take cable and satellite service companies. Look at one of their ads and you’ll quickly see a long list of perks that you as a customer are clearly not getting, no matter how long you’ve been a customer.
Customers quickly become frustrated when they see the value of their purchase or service diminishing. Offering new and improved services for new customers but ignoring existing loyal customers is basically throwing away that loyalty you’ve worked so hard to build.
3. Personal means more than value (usually)
Your customers are human and they expect a human interaction, not a bland, generic one. A personal message on your customer’s birthday, in terms of customer loyalty can often mean much, much more than an extra 10% off sale on a holiday weekend. Customers still appreciate the value you offer them, but the emotional bond that really creates customer loyalty is more effective when customers feel and know that you are thinking about them on a personal level.
4. People are loyal to people, not corporations
No one has a relationship with corporate headquarters, computers, and office desks. But customers relate to and connect with the people who occupy and use those to drive your business forward. Remember that your customer loyalty often comes down to the relationships that your customers develop with the people they interact with from your business on a regular basis.
5. Customers have to be part of your organization’s DNA
Everyone can spot fake and cheap customer experience. Creating the type of experience your customers feel is genuine, begins with converting your entire organization to wanting to win the customer. If your organization is not on the same page, at some point of the experience, the emotion you’re trying to build will break down.
Your front line people may be fast, effective, and engaging, but if product development isn’t as obsessed with customers, the experience will feel disjointed and it’ll be difficult to develop the type of loyalty that keeps customers for the long run.
6. Compete only against yourself
Customer service today is in trouble. Customer service is so bad that we’re often delighted just when we receive mediocre service. With such a bad standard or service, competing against the rest of the bad customer service pack will keep you delivering average, mediocre customer service. Instead, forget about the competition and compete against yourself.
Be sure that you’re delivering what customers expect, then dream of how you can make what your customers are trying to do even better, fast, more efficient and effective. Your customers will validate the minor details of how things should work, but innovation has to come from your and your vision for developing a more complete customer experience.
7. Reward customer loyalty
It’s not only enough to offer value and function to your customers, but customers need to be recognized for their willingness to shut the door when competitors come knocking. Too many times feeling neglected is enough to send customers to the waiting arms of your competitors. Be on the prowl of customers doing right and be sure you recognize it.
My daughter’s school has a genius program to getting kids to act right and keep them acting right. She had “caught being good” cards. Teachers walk around with cards that they hand out to kids doing what is right, going the extra mile to do good to others and excel in what they should do. When they see a student going above an beyond, they reward them with a “caught being good” card that they can turn in for small prizes.
Do what is right!
It has to be personal, it has to be valuable, and it has to be meaningful. Discounts are not enough, especially in B2B where your customers aren’t spending their own money. Instead, reward continued business with special gifts or perks that go beyond just typical discount so that it rewards the person making the decision that rewards your business.
Customers want to be rewarded for doing what’s good for your business. Be good to your customers, no, really good to your customers and they’ll reward you with long-term customer loyalty and success.
Flavio is the VP of Customer Support at an award winning global customer service team. As a customer experience blogger, and customer service fanatic, bad service keeps him up at night so he’s on a mission to show that excellent service can be consistent, simple, and easy.