I recently featured Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience expert, on my podcast about how to get and keep loyal customers. One of the most fundamental rules of business is that it is much better to have a customer come back five times than to have five one-time customers. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Here are a few tips on how to transform your company’s customer experience and grow a loyal customer base.
Repeat Business is Not Loyal Business
Some companies tend to confuse and equate these two terms. We’ve all heard of “loyalty” programs at places like grocery stores or dining establishments. However, it’s not a loyalty program; it is a marketing program. If you were to take away those perks associated with the loyalty program, would they come back? The answer is likely no. Shep discussed that “Repeat customers are gold. Loyal customers are sacred.” The goal is to create a loyal customer who wants to give you their business again and again while talking about your business to their friends and families, whether they are being incentivized or not.
How Do You Get Loyal Customers?
Hyken shared that companies must be “Always Friendly, Always Knowledgeable, Always Helpful.” Your customers need to be confident that they can always count on you to fix problems that may arise for them. The most important measurement in determining the success of your efforts to gain loyal customers is, “Do they come back?” Somebody that comes back is more likely to spend more, trust you more, and turn into a loyal customer. Look at the data, be the expert resource to solve their problems, and loyal customers will come.
Find Out Your Why
CX leaders agree that finding out your why regarding customers coming back or not is a vital piece of success in gaining loyal customers. You need to listen to what your customer is saying on the front line and use it to improve your customer experience processes. For a great example of this, look no further than Bill Gates himself, who decided to spend a day taking customer service calls to learn more about what his consumers were saying about Microsoft. Understanding your why as a business is a crucial step to gaining loyalty from your customers.
Get Your Employees Engaged
We’ve all heard about the importance of fostering company culture. However, so many companies struggle to succeed at doing this. First and foremost, you need to instill a clear, defined vision of what your customer experience is supposed to be. Think about the Ritz Carlton for example. Their customer experience mission statement very simply states, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” The easier the customer experience statement is to understand, the easier it will be for your employees to enact it. Constantly communicate this vision and train your staff on it, and loyal customers will follow.
Acknowledge Customer Experience Accomplishments
Remember to congratulate and acknowledge customer experience accomplishments. Too many
companies fall into the trap of thinking that positive feedback from customers is the “expectation,” while pointing a magnifying glass at the negatives. The best company cultures that foster loyal customers are the ones that acknowledge and reward a good customer experience from their staff to help incentivize them to do those great things again and again. As Shep Hyken agrees, the difference between being a shipping company and being Amazon is in the ability to foster loyal customers.