Written By: Alice Heiman
Loyal customers will take your company to the next level because of their long-term patronage, and willingness to tell everyone about you.
I can’t imagine any business professionals saying are thinking that satisfied customers are not a priority. We all believe this. The real question though is, how are your flipping your satisfied customers to loyal customers?
To use a term I borrowed from Daniel Pink, I’d like to “flip” your thinking. Instead of thinking that your goal is a satisfied customer, start thinking a satisfied customer is just the beginning. A customer should never be anything other than satisfied; so what should the goal be?
I hold a client appreciation networking event every year. At this event we packed treats for the Food Bank Backpack Program and it was a huge hit. My clients enjoyed the party, meeting each other and the opportunity to give back to the community.
First, let’s examine the behavior of a satisfied customer. They make a purchase and receive what they paid for; they are satisfied.
The next time they need your products or services they may come to you again, or they may go to a place that is more convenient or try something different just because it came along.
They are not loyal, just satisfied. Satisfaction doesn’t guarantee you their business; convenience and price will dictate their future business. We see this behavior in the grocery business: shoppers go where the sales are. It’s either convenience or price unless they are loyal.
So customer loyalty is what we are striving for. Whole Foods is a great example in the grocery industry of a brand people are loyal to. Those who shop at Whole Foods are die-hards and brand advocates.
They drive across town, they pay more and best of all they tell all their friends. But they don’t do this solely for good products and services. They feel the products are superior and they can relate to the people and they are treated very well. Not everyone loves Whole Foods, but their target audience does.
Doing a good job just isn’t enough anymore. Your minimum should be great. What would you have to change to make sure you are always delivering at the level of great?
Go beyond expectations and prompt customers to say, “Wow, I can’t believe it.” Wells Fargo and Zappos both strive for legendary in competitive industries.
Greet people on the phone and in-person with enthusiasm and always a smile. A culture that supports happy employees and putting the customer first will enforce a genuine environment. Nordstrom’s is a prime example; employees are attentive and go the extra mile by calling customers when items come in they might like. How do you insure that this happens at your company?
Take a little extra time to get to know your customers. This opens a myriad of opportunities- think birthday recognition or promotions for loyal customers. How would you do this at your company?
At a minimum thank your customers once a year. This could be when they sign up, with an annual appreciation party or with notes and small gifts. Express that they are important. What can you do to thank your customers?
Your customers know best; so periodically survey them on how you are doing and how you can improve. Starbucks has a couple of platforms for customers to give feedback on their experience. While not every suggestion is plausible, each gives insight as to what is important.
Meet with your team today and brainstorm on how to foster those satisfied customers into loyal customers. Loyal customers will take your company to the next level because of their long-term patronage, and willingness to tell everyone about you.
The main goal for every business is to cultivate loyal customers.
Alice developed her expertise in sales while at Miller Heiman, Inc before striking out…
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