6 ways to create loyal customers
Loyalty, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “the quality of being loyal. It’s giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.”
Most business owners and managers agree that loyal customers are their greatest sales force. We all know how important it is to keep current customers happy. In their book Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmett Murphy and Mark Murphy tell us that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%. And we all know that it costs many times more to cultivate and get new customers than it does to keep our existing clients happy.
Many of us are loyal to brands. My father drove a Buick and wouldn’t have considered buying any other car. That was until my husband, Dave, and I got married, and then Dad wanted to drive me to the church in a Cadillac. He got the Cadillac but never felt quite the same about it as he did about his Buicks.
Many of us are loyal to a business. I have my favorite place to grocery shop. I’ve tried other places and they’re just not the same. In fact, I could probably wear a blindfold and still find all the things I usually buy because I know the store so well.
We are all creatures of habit. We make connections with a brand or a business, or even with an employee of a business. That kind of connection helps turn us into loyal customers.
Loyalty can be bought; however, loyalty that is earned is powerful and sustainable. Something I read awhile ago noted that customer loyalty comes from taking the time to learn about your customers as individuals and then finding ways to offer products and services that that customer wants and needs.
Today, customer loyalty is threatened every minute of every day. With the rise of the Internet, consumers are often tempted to switch loyalties at the touch of a keystroke. Even having a loyalty program in place is no guarantee that a customer won’t make a switch because of a better offer.
Experts tell us that there are ways to build long-term customer/client relationships, including:
- Become a resource for customers. Share information that pertains to the products they usually buy. Search for options in those product categories so they will have choices.
- Be totally honest. If your company isn’t able to provide what your customers are looking for, help them find a business that can serve their need. Don’t be afraid to lose those customers’ future business. If your company is doing a good job, there should be no worries about that.
- Always meet deadlines. It goes without saying that a brick-and-mortar business could have the edge on delivery of goods and services.
- Eliminate buyer stress. There’s enough stress to go around. Make it easy to shop at your company. Take the hassle out of purchasing the products and services your business can provide.
- Think of your customers as more than customers. Get to know them. Call them by name and listen to what they say to learn more about them and why they need your goods and services.
- Cultivate a partnership that goes beyond the sale.
Never forget a customer … and never let a customer forget your business.
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