15/09/2017 - 14:25

Solid steps ensure customer loyalty

15/09/2017 - 14:25


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OPINION: Before you receive loyalty from your customers, you’ll need to show some within your own workplace.

Solid steps ensure customer loyalty
Internal best practice will assist with external relationships. Photo: Stockphoto

I’m sick of customer satisfaction. The worst companies in the world tout the fact that they won some satisfaction award or another. It’s not just a bad joke; it’s a lame statement.

Every company is hoping its customers will reorder. They’re hoping their customers will spread the word about how great their products are, and about how great their people are. And they’re hoping to proactively encourage others to place an order or do business with them.

That is not customer satisfaction; that is customer loyalty.

Every company must have loyalty, not satisfaction, as its mission.

Every company must have loyalty, not satisfaction, as its imperative.

Corporate drivel mission statements talk about exceeding customer expectations, about being number one in the world, about shareholder value, and say nothing about the one word that makes all of these things happen – loyalty.

The reason companies (especially big companies) don’t stress loyalty is because it’s much more difficult to achieve, and requires both an investment, and a commitment on the part of senior management.

Customer loyalty is a hollow statement unless a mission precedes it.

Reality: A company and its executives must be loyal to their employees, loyal to their product quality, and loyal to their service excellence. This means they must both invest in and support a loyalty imperative.

The secret: Loyalty must be given before it is received.

No company can ensure customer loyalty until it has secured employee loyalty. It amazes me that big companies will lay off thousands of people in the name of profit or shareholder value, and think nothing of what it does to internal morale, or the impact that it has on the reduction of service to its customers – even a reduction in the quality of its product.

Loyalty is both an action and a process.

Look at the best companies in the world. They have great employees. They have great products. They give great service. And they’re easy to do business with. This makes them attractive. And these are the elements that create loyalty.

The one element that is most important is great service. Memorable service. Loyalty based service. And that flies in the face of satisfaction (the lowest level of acceptable service).

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your company’s loyalty imperative.

1. List all reasons that customers call you for service. There are probably fewer than 25.

2. List all barriers that you place in front of a customer connecting with you. There are probably fewer than 10. (Automated attendant, voicemail, lack of 24-hour availability, inadequate website.)

3. Once you have all the opportunities and all the barriers listed, have a weekend retreat with senior management and front-line people to determine best practices, generate new ideas for serving, and making it easier to do business with your company.

Document (record) everything.

4. Put the ideas and the best practices into action. Create a training program for best practices.

5. Rather than announce all of these changes in the form of a bragging advertisement, or internal hoopla, let your customers have an opportunity to react and respond to your new and better way of doing business. Let the referral part of your business begin organically. Let it be earned, not asked for.

5.5 All members of senior management must support this process, both verbally and visually. If you’re going to evolve from satisfaction to loyalty, it has to be hands on, not just words.

I wish more companies’ mission statements included that they will be loyal to their employees, so that their employees will be loyal to their customers, so that their customers will be loyal to the company.

That is a loyalty chain. And it doesn’t start with satisfied customers, it starts with senior management understanding that loyalty is a way of life, not just a word. That loyalty starts at home, not at a customer’s place of business. That loyalty is earned by a process, not by a wave of a wand, or even by product excellence.

And loyalty is easily measured. Just look at your repeat business.

Satisfaction is also easily measured. Just look at the customers you lost.

Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development. © 2017 All rights reserved. Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.



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