There’s a difference between customer retention and customer loyalty. Without understanding how to create that difference, the longevity of your relationships could be in danger.
By: JoAnna Brandi
Loyalty is based on an emotional connection - it has to do with perception, expectation and feelings.
Let’s break down that emotional connection into doable “elements” that you can easily put into action to build what I call an “Emotional Bank Account” with your customers. The bigger that bank account, the better the chance that your customer will form an emotional connection with you.
When a customer declares “I love my hairdresser!” “I love my mechanic!” “I love Renzo’s Pizza,” they are speaking out loud of that connection. Both love and loyalty activate the same part of the brain! Want your customers to keep coming back? Love ‘em up by practicing all the elements of loyalty I’m going to share over this series of articles.
The Value of "Consistency"
You may have noticed that the world is chaotic. The “noise level” is higher than it's ever been before. And everybody's trying to get your customers' attention. If you want to hang on to it, you need to provide a consistently superior experience that exceeds (and sometimes even anticipates) your customer’s needs.
Today's customers have high expectations. When those expectations aren't met, they don't think twice about moving their business elsewhere.
Do you deliver a consistently superior experience? Are you always prompt, always responsive, always responsible to the people who do business with you? Can they count on consistent caring from you?
Customers need to feel comfortable – so it helps to tone down the “noise.” They need to be greeted and handled well over and over again. Your behavior needs to define an experience that makes them feel secure. They need to trust that you'll be there for them every time. Earn that trust, and they'll keep coming back.
Let's Look at Consistency in Action
Do you know what your customers' expectations are? Are they unique for different groups or segments of customers? If you don’t know, can you find out? Where are the gaps between what they expect and what you deliver? Knowing their expectations is key to delivering - and overdelivering a consistently positive experience.
Remember that what gets measured gets done. To put it another way: You get results when you inspect what you expect. Ask for customer feedback on the consistency of your service as well as the quality of it. Can your customers rely on you to provide a positive experience every time? If not, why not? If not, fix it ... fast!
Do you have a set of quality standards? Are they based on customers' criteria? Do you communicate with them throughout your workplace? Do you tell your customers what they are? If so, that’s brave.
Quality standards need to be specific, so customers know what to expect. Here's a tip: Make your core service consistent, and then surround that service with things that will surprise and delight customers. Describe the standards behaviorally - in terms of what people need to do – so they can do it.
Give some feedback to those who design and conduct your customer service training. Help them ensure that training is focused on achieving the standards regularly. The message in your training needs to be that great service is not a one-time thing ... it's an every-time thing!
Make sure that people who temporarily fill in for your regular service staff are well trained. If you're the person who fills in, ask to be trained. “Our regular person was out that day” is a poor excuse for delivering sub-par service. Staff absences are your problem…don’t let them become the customers'!
Train your people well. Standard greetings, closings etc are great to make and they do leave a good impression. But make sure that if that customer should happen to be upset or unhappy, that you have a consistent and reliable process for handling it well and leaving the customer whole.
Ask yourself ... Do I make every effort to provide a consistently positive experience for my customers?
JoAnna Brandi has been speaking, writing and consulting on customer care and helping brands create lifetime customer loyalty for over 30 years. She brings a fresh perspective to Customer Experience with practical tips to help marketers transform their CX. JoAnna is a Certified Happiness Officer and Coach. You can find her at https://returnonhappiness.com/ and https://Positiveenergizer.com. She is the author of two books on Customer Loyalty and the illustrated gift book “54 Ways to Stay Positive in a Changing, Challenging and Sometimes Negative World”.