Sustaining Customer Loyalty: Do You Think You Can?


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I am sure you remember the children’s story The Little Engine That Could. The tough little blue engine just doesn’t quit. He sees the hill in front of him, musters the courage to tackle it and begins churning up and up, slowly but surely. A little bit at a time he makes progress despite the odds against him achieving this seemingly impossible task.

“I-Think-I-Can-I-Think-I-Can,” repeats the engine on his climb up the hill. Well, obviously, the little fella does more than just think about it. After a mighty struggle he does, of course, make it to the top of that hill, and he congratulates himself on the way down the other side: “I-Thought-I-Could-I-Thought-I-Could …”

Mission accomplished – and the children’s story appropriately ends right there.

The business version of The Little Engine That Could never ends on the backside of that proverbial hill. In fact, in the business world, the story never really ends. In another minute, day or week, we will face another hill to climb and have to think we can all over again.

When we’ve conquered that hill, another hill will appear, and then … well, you get the point.

There is no exception to this reality for customer experience leaders, managers, supervisors and professionals, who strive every day to find new and better ways to create and build customer loyalty and deliver brand value to customers.

As an organization, we work tirelessly …

  • to please our customers
  • to create the best customer experience possible
  • to build our team of customer service agents or sales account representatives

We endeavor to turn our customer service agents and sales account representatives into a cadre of front-line marketers who can effectively connect our customers with our brand, products and services.

Our goal is to create a Loyal Promoter – a faithful, devoted, repeat, referring customer. It is challenging work, as much art as it is science. Yet slowly but surely, a little bit at a time, making progress despite the odds, we make progress … I-Think-I-Can-I-Think-I-Can. And finally, if and when we deliver the customer experience in just the right way, we earn a 10 on that NPS survey, or we get a customer to upgrade his service or renew his contract. The struggle is over, mission accomplished … we did it, right?

Well, there is no children’s version of the customer experience story. There is no station at the bottom of the backside of the customer experience hill we just successfully climbed.

Customers today do not give us the time to celebrate or rest!

The fight for ground in the Customer Loyalty battle never ends. A customer rarely stays a Loyal Promoter just because he has become one in the past. A customer doesn’t just demonstrate loyalty once and ignore alternatives in the future.

Promoter and Loyalty status these days must be consistently won and re-won every day, in every interaction, in every channel, with every experience, during every customer touchpoint. A customer’s search for value never ends or takes a rest. Even when price and features are competitive, customers are constantly searching for better customer service and a better customer experience elsewhere. If you are not good enough tomorrow, you risk losing the promoter you created today.

There is always another customer experience hill to climb, and everyone on your customer service team or sales team must possess and demonstrate the passion, competencies, consistency and singular focus to continually build that value perception in the minds and hearts of your customers.

Because those hills just keep on coming!

If you are a customer experience leader, manager or supervisor, or if you have a similar position on the sales side, your role is to fuel sustainability.

Have you found the balance between rewarding your front line for a job well done and coaching, motivating and preparing them to take the next hill?

Are your customer service agents enthusiastic about the value of your products or services, and do they share that excitement with your customers?

Are those customer service agents ambassadors of your brand?

Are your sales account representatives satisfied with just filling the next order, or are they relentlessly driving to learn more about the customer’s business and discover the customer’s needs?

Are the sales account representatives working toward becoming a trusted partner who creates exponential value for your customers and builds sustainable loyalty?

For all those customers lining up beyond the next hill with customer service questions or orders to be placed, even the same customers you absolutely WOWed yesterday, they might be yours today, but will they still love you tomorrow?

The answer, undoubtedly, lies in the ability of your front-line customer service agents or sales account representatives to seize every interaction, in every channel, during every customer touchpoint, every single day to create a value-building experience for every customer.

This is the challenge that lies before you as a customer experience leader … to create a culture that continuously drives the engine over the next hill.

Do you think you can?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Miller
Pretium Solutions is the premier provider of cutting-edge, sustainable and globally recognized customer service, call center and sales training, consulting and leadership programs. Pretium shows companies how to create, build and maintain customer loyalty, the most important measure of a company's success with its customers and the most profitable customer service outcome, and how to live out the company brand promise where it counts the most – on the front line.


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