There was a time in this country when customers were fiercely loyal. Today, however, customers seem to have a “what’s in it for me” attitude, and will jump from one merchant to another to “find the best deal”, or whatever will satisfy their needs at that moment. They do business on a one-way basis. Yet, there is always the lure of “customers for life” possibility. In the following segments, we’ll outline various ways to build customer loyalty. Depending on the type of business you have – brick & mortar store, mail order business, online website business – you may be able to incorporate many of the methods outlined.
1. Provide the very best service! Educate the customers on HOW you provide the best service, then do what you say you’ll do! Show enthusiasm for going out of your way to prove that you’re highly service-oriented.
2. Offer a superior guarantee. Every business can offer a guarantee of some kind. A desirable guarantee will bring and keep the customers.
3. Offer a higher quality product or service. You must be specific – tell the customers exactly WHY your quality is unmatched by the competitors. People will pay for quality, but only when they realize the value. Again, be specific, and it must be convincing. Customers are not fooled by unkept claims. don’t make unrealistic promises. When competition is tough, it’s easy to overpromise, and that can make your marketing position even worse. The goal is to look better, not worse.
4. Provide toll-free telephone access. Those that provide 800 number service are letting their customers know that they are making it as easy as possible for them to communicate with the business. This would not apply to those who are doing business strictly in a local area, and would not be doing business in any area except where local calls can be made.
5. Get customer feed-back. Listen to what the customers are saying. Use their suggestions to help shape your business. Make sure it’s the customers who are running your business. A marketing-driven company operates just one way: the total effort – product, service, price and promotion – must be adapted to the needs and wants of customers.
6. Say “thank you” at every opportunity. Let the customer know that they are noticed and appreciated. Show appreciation. Let your customers know that you WANT their business. Don’t ever assume that they know. Don’t think that price is all they care about. Customers want to know they are appreciated. Good word of mouth “advertising” comes from the customers that KNOW you care about them and that you appreciate them.
7. Concentrate on consulting. Develop new ways to tailor your products and services to meet precise needs of the customer. Spend more time with your customers. Be more helpful, understanding and supportive.
8. Respond promptly. Address customer complaints immediately. For every customer that complains, there may be many that remain silent, but disappear as customers. It is very important, therefore, to satisfy those that do complain, in order to try to keep them as customers. Help your customers solve their problems better than anyone else.
Next week we’ll cover the next 8 ways to build customer loyalty, which in turn means victory, success and ever-increasing profits for YOU.