Did you know it’s time to throw out the old notion that having satisfied customers is the path to a successful business?
Think about it. If you’re merely satisfying your customers than you’re earning about a “C” grade. You provided a product or service, and got paid for it. It was a tit-for-tat exchange and that’s the end of it. There’s no certainty of return business. Customers are just as likely to use someone else the next time if all you have done is fulfill their request and deliver what they think they paid for.
Think about the restaurants you return to again and again, or your regular drug store or dry cleaner. Sure, price and location have something to do with where you spend your money. But chances are you frequent these businesses because they go out of their way to create an emotionally positive experience for you. I stick with my pharmacist because he takes the time to talk to me about all of my medications and any possible side effects when my prescriptions are being filled. And why did I choose my grocery store from a handful of options that are just as close and carry the same items? It’s the little things like the cashier who hands me an extra store coupon from behind the counter and the stocker who addresses me by name then shows me where he just stocked the unblemished apples.
These interactions have something in common: they create a positive and personal experience between me, the customer, and the store representative – Joe (the cashier) or Sally (the stocker).Personal attention with a giving attitude creates a relationship resultinng in my loyalty to the individual and, ultimately, the store.
Loyal customers come back … again and again. In today’s tough economy that’s critical. By definition the loyal customer comes back to use your business repeatedly, which in turn produces a much longer and stronger income stream. In fact, businesses that emphasize customer loyalty tend to grow about twice as quickly as those that do not.
Here’s another benefit. The loyal customer feels vested enough in your business to tell others about their positive experiences. That’s not only free advertising, but also the most effective advertising there is! Recommendations from friends or colleagues are far more effective that any advertising campaign – and it works to drive business. Think about how you came to select your favorite doctor or dentist and you’ll know exactly what I mean. More than likely it was a recommendation from a friend, rather than a splashy ad, that guided your selection.
If customer loyalty is the goal rather than customer satisfaction, you might ask, “How do get there?” It can’t be an afterthought; it has to be part of your organization’s culture.
That means everyone in the organization needs to be on the same page — valuing customer loyalty and aiming for that with every personal interaction.