“Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.”
– Kate Zabriskie, Founder, Business Training Works
Equally important to the conversation about client loyalty is understanding why clients become unhappy. This topic is huge. Surprisingly though, it’s a secondary or tertiary strategic conversation in many companies. Poor customer service impacts a company profoundly throughout its organization, sometimes to the detriment of a company’s survivability. An excellent study on the impacts of poor customer services is the 2010 Right Now Customer Experience Impact Report.
For the sake of honoring the “season of love,” we’ll talk about the reasons clients leave and the impact on a company another time. For now, the rest of this discussion will focus on the lovey-dovey feel-good stuff. But, keep in mind, competitors love you when you give bad service!
Client Loyalty vs. Client Satisfaction
Repeat clients don’t necessarily equate to loyal clients. Client loyalty means that the client has a preferred choice. How the client arrives at that position is more complex. It’s a culmination of a collection of perceptions, experiences, and attitudes, and there’s a reciprocal relationship between a client and customer.
Master salesman, author, consultant, and coach Jeffrey Gitomersays, “Satisfied people will shop any place. Loyal people will do business with you for years. They’ll fight before they’ll switch. They’ll tell everyone else they know to come and do business with you.”
International business authority, author, and peak performance strategist Tony Robbins echoes the difference between satisfied customers and loyal clients: “Raving fans are loyal. They know you and they stick around even when you screw up because you've consistently added value to them in a way that nobody else can.”
A loyal client
provides you opportunities to correct problems and does not use these to compromise the relationship,
believes your products and services are superior to others,
does not actively seeking alternative providers,
is likely to continue purchasing your products and services, and
will likely recommend you, your products, and services to others.
The Ideal Client Profile: Not Every Customer is Ideal
Doesn’t it seem obvious that building client loyalty should be a top priority for any business? Surprisingly, it’s not always. Building client loyalty goes hand in hand with the ideal client. These are the questions to ask to identify your ideal client profile.
Is the client a good fit?
How well will we work together?
Can I provide the product or service to solve my client’s problem?
Will this relationship provide a good financial return?
Does my style of delivery fit the client’s processes?
Is he or she fair and reasonable?
Will this be a rewarding and enjoyable partnership?
Will he or she be a loyal, raving fan?
Customer Experience & Service:
It’s the New Marketing. It's a Key Ingredient for Revenue Growth.
Employee training is crucial. Surprising, not everyone appreciates the importance of client loyalty. The RightNow Study found that 85% of customers would pay more for an exceptional customer experience. Wowza!
I’ve overheard some unfortunate and shocking conversations between a few project team members and their counterparts in a client’s organization. Just because staff might be trained in a specific trade doesn’t necessarily mean they bring the right customer service tools to the table. All employees should be trained and skilled in behaviors that support excellent service. They need to be customer centric, trained, and dedicated. An article in the Harvard Business Review identifies three ways customer centricity fits into an organization:
The knowledge management system (understand the customer)
Competence as a learning organization (build a customer-centric culture)
Corporate strategy foundation and execution (serve the customer)
“You don't earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day.”
– Jeffrey Gitomer
Make That “Love Connection”; Cultivate Customer Love and Loyalty
The perfect matchmaking formula for a client connection includes a solid commitment to the cultivation of customer love and loyalty. A top goal should be to seek and find ideal clients to fall in love with. A customer care coach can help guide a company to create client delight and dazzle customers with care. Five strategic steps can help lay the foundation:
Share knowledge: Give away helpful advice through planned marketing and client
Anticipate client needs, questions, and concerns: Offer useful information and preemptive solutions.
Ask, listen, respond, and adapt: Solicit feedback; be attentive, prompt, and sincere; provide constant added value; and adjust to changes.
Resolve problems: Problems happen; that’s business! It is how you solve problems that demonstrates excellence in service and level of care.
Thank clients and create sense of community: Create branded VIP events and gift promotions to help clients remember and love your brand.
10 Customer Love and Loyalty Affirmations
Image credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock
I will do everything in my power to keep clients happy.
I will behave as though every day is Client Appreciation Day.
I will regularly communicate that I care about my clients’ successes.
I will invest in sincere relationship-building techniques.
I will share knowledge with clients.
I will do something special just for clients.
I will anticipate changing client needs.
I will be a responsive listener, proactive and thorough.
I will be fanatical about caring for my clients.
I will show clients year-round love.
Takeaways and Take Action!
Celebrate the Valentine’s season by cultivating customer love and loyalty.
Make customer loyalty a strategic goal and a top priority.
If you don’t have a client loyalty plan, get one.
Audit your client relationships, past and present.
Identify why clients leave.
Identify your ideal client profile.
Create a one-year strategy to build client loyalty.
Provide training for great client service.
Establish clear goals and strategies so that you are the preferred choice of your ideal clients.