Monday, July 19, 2010

Customer Loyalty Matters - Part III

Three final tips to deepen relationships with customers, establish greater levels of trust, and build stronger customer loyalty...

What have you done for me lately?

One of the most common mistakes companies make is focusing primarly on the early part of the sale. They wrongly assume that once a customer is happy, that customer will stay happy and continue to use the product or service. Each customer's experience is the sum of every small experience that customer has while using your product or service. Ask yourself, if I were this customer right now, what would I really want in terms of product, care and service? Remember, your customer is always thinking "what's in it for me?" What you do (or fail to do) at every point during a customer's course of care makes an impression.

Never take loyalty for granted.

A successful marketing campaign will encourage buyers to try your product or service, but only good outcomes and an authentic relationship with you will keep them coming back. Customers' willingness to return to your company depends only partly on their need for your product or service. They can easily choose between other suppliers if they were not happy with what they experience with you, your staff or dealer channel. Never take loyalty for granted. Never underestimate the power and value of the one-to-one relationship customers have with your company. Customers return to where they fell connected, where they have a sense of belonging, where there is mutual esteem, where they are treated with respect, and where their care results in positive outcomes.

Word-of-mouth marketing isn't new.

Third-party endorsement or customer referral has long been a part of marketing. What is new is that the bar for what customers expect is higher today. Being good isn't good enough to get customers talking about you. Outstanding is the new good. Research repeatedly shows the quality of customer service is on the decline across industries. When you consistently exceed expectations, customers become "raving fans." Those are the customers who refer your company to other prospects.

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.