by Debra Schmidt
Forget the customer satisfaction surveys. When it boils down to determining customer loyalty, there are only two questions that you need to ask your customers:
“Will you recommend our business to others?”
If your customers answer “yes” to these questions, thank them profusely. They’ve just saved your company a fortune in marketing.
If your customers answer “no” to the questions, immediately ask them, “Why not?”
Then, follow up with a more important question, “What could we have done differently?”
Are your customers telling you that everything is fine, implying they are satisfied? If so, you may have a problem, because 65-85% of customers who say they are satisfied, actually switch to the competition. Satisfied customers are neutral. They’re keeping one eye on the road to see if someone out there will give them better value for their money. Don’t settle for satisfied customers if you want to stay in business and secure your job.
Here are 7 ways to move your customers from satisfied to loyal:
1. View every customer interaction as a golden opportunity.
Every interaction you have with a customer gives you the opportunity to strengthen the loyalty bond. Your customers are measuring how they are treated by every employee who provides any service. These contacts can be face-to-face, by telephone, by email and even by other written communication.
2. Deliver more than your customer expects.
Be very realistic when making even the smallest promises to your customers. In other words, don’t promise anything you are not absolutely sure you can deliver. Then, take your service one step further to surprise your customers. For example, call your customers back just to thank them for giving you the opportunity to handle their service requests.
3. Greet every customer like a special friend.
Customers are thrilled when they deal with service providers who seem genuinely glad to work with them. Your whole face needs to light up with joy when they walk through the door. Greet them quickly and sincerely. If you are on the telephone, don’t forget that your customers can hear a “smile” in your voice. Remember, you are talking to another person, not a headset. Even the tone of your customer email messages needs to sound friendly and gracious.
4. Ask your customers detailed questions about what they like and dislike.
Invite feedback by asking your customers to tell you how they felt about their service experience. Rather than reading from a survey or a script, simply chat with your customers and ask them what they like and dislike about doing business with you or your company. Ask open-ended questions that encourage their suggestions for improvements. For example, “Mr. Schmidt, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can make it even more fun to do business with us.”
5. Make your customers feel important.
Feature your key customers in the company newsletter or, with permission, post their comments on your website. Introduce them to other employees when they come in to do business. Notice and acknowledge their accomplishments. For example, when one of my clients was featured in a local magazine. I purchased a copy of the magazine, attached a hand-written congratulations note and mailed it to him.
6. Communicate with your customers frequently.
Stay in touch with your customers. Be proactive in keeping them posted about the status of their order or complaint resolution. Send them birthday and holiday greeting cards. Pick up the phone and call just to say, “Hello.” Make sure there are no strings attached such as a sales pitch.
7. Reward your customers for their loyalty.
Don’t ever take your regular customers for granted. Frequently remind them that they are genuinely appreciated. Extend a loyal customer discounts or waive small fees such as shipping expenses when they place their next order. Send them hand-written “thank you” notes that include a small gift such as a pen, gift card or calendar.
Need more tips? Deb’s book, Building Customer Loyalty from the Inside Out will give you practical, proven advice on how to:
- Build a positive spirit of teamwork and collaboration inside your organization.
- Stop committing service sins that drive customers away.
- Communicate more effectively to build customer rapport and trust.
- Deliver old-fashioned, caring service that will delight your customers.
- Increase customer retention and generate positive word-of-mouth to increase sales.
Debra J. Schmidt is known as the Loyalty Leader® and is the author of Building Customer Loyalty from the Inside Out. As a consultant, trainer and professional speaker, Debra helps companies boost profits by leading the way to greater customer loyalty. Visit www.LoyaltyLeader.com to subscribe to Debra’s free online newsletter or learn how you can hire her deliver onsite training to you and your employees.
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