Customer Loyalty – Must be Created

“Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart-the center of self-respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it-and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.” – Maurice R. Franks

In the current market scenario customers are surrounded by options – products and companies from which to buy them. The only way to make a company and its offerings stand out would be providing top class customer service. Research and studies have proved irrefutably that customers will not think twice before deflecting if they perceive lack of attention and shoddy service from the company. The findings from these sources of information also prove that customer loyalty can be created when companies work relentlessly to ensure awesome customer experiences. Customers that feel cared for and paid attention to are definitely inclined to buy from the company again and soon a feeling of comfort and trust sets in, translating to customer loyalty. The fact is that losing customers, due to poor service or any other reason, is extremely costly and in addition, it would be at least 6 to 7 times costlier to attract and gain a new customer. Outsmarting your competitors, however large, depends on a company’s ability to create and sustain customer loyalty.

We are not saying that gaining new and bigger customers is not crucial. It is. However, existing customers would lend ‘weight’ and value to a business and when this set of customers is happy they have the ability to gain more customers for a company through testimonials and referrals. Acts of courtesy and ethical business practices are key components of great customer service and create trust leading to customer loyalty. What practices does your company have in place to build customer loyalty and sustain it?

Customers are busy and always seemingly on the go. They have no way of knowing what your company does for them or what is planned to ensure that they receive the best of service and products. Communication is a lot easier now- sending customers powerful and informative emails and the company newsletter, keeping the website and social media sites updated and other such communication that will keep them informed about what’s new with the offerings and what they can expect. It is a part of customer service to inform them even of the actions taken to keep them happy. The idea is to make it easier for them to do business with you and to ease their stress – do this well and you would be able to create customer loyalty.

Lend the human touch wherever possible – a great way to keep your company in the customer’s mind. Send thank you notes – preferably handwritten by the top person of the company -, check on whether the ‘new product’ is working well and serving the purpose it was intended to serve and other such courteous gestures. Taking time to ‘reach out’ to your customers helps to create a feeling of goodwill and customer loyalty, over time. Ensure that whatever your customers receive from your company has a personal touch – call up a customer instead of writing an email, where possible. If the customer has the time, it is always better to have face-to-face interactions, enabling your company to keep in touch with customers in a way that will leave them feeling warm and engaged with your company. Do remember that your customers are people and their special occasions mean a lot. In your attempts to create customer loyalty keep a check on such occasions and send them tokens of your wishes. Huge amounts of money or effort does not need to be invested – coming up with creative yet memorable gift ideas will serve the end of keeping customers happy and building loyalty over time. Customers do not want the gifts but would definitely be appreciative of the thought and time your company puts into remembering them.

Send your customers informative and useful content, which may not be related to your business but would be of great interest to them and their associates. For example – A friend’s company lost a customer. However, the company did not give up and the top person in the company kept a look out for a particular book the customer wanted and had mentioned it during their association. This top person went out of his way and managed to get the book. He then sent it to the customer with a handwritten note. To date, the ‘angry’ customer is among the most loyal customers of the company! Customer loyalty, it would seem, is directly connected with what your company can do for its customers beyond the business association.

It is always a good idea to ask your customers what they think about the company’s ability to serve them. Gaining such feedback makes customers feel like they are an important part of the company. In addition, try as much as possible to implement the suggestions made by the customers such that they do not feel that the company has ignored their feedback and let them know how your company has used their suggestions. Customers that feel part of a company are more likely to provide even better feedback the next time and over time, these exchanges take the form of customer loyalty – which customer would not like to be part of a company that listens to them so effectively.

As mentioned and is a well-known fact in business, customer service must be the responsibility of everyone in the company and to ensure that happens, the company must change its mind-set. Customer service must be an inextricable part of the overall business strategy of the company – doing so, will ensure that each person understands their role and responsibility in providing the best possible service and experience to the customers to further the cause of the company’s success. Employees must be empowered to make spot and independent decisions to resolve the customer’s problems rather than constantly be tied down by rules and regulations. As customers receive a consistently high standard of service, their trust and loyalty would follow.

When customer service is woven into the fabric of the company’s business, each person would understand the importance of continually understanding each customer and their needs individually. Such understanding will allow a company to create products and services that would be customized to the particular needs and the levels of service too would fit perfectly with the requirements of the customers. Customers love doing business with a company that can understand their current needs and anticipate their future needs without much effort on their part – they would much rather stick with such a company – customer loyalty at its best.

We have in the past, discussed the importance of branding from the customer’s viewpoint. Brands, that make customers feel good, address their emotional needs and ensure that customers derive maximum benefit from them, are able to keep customers attracted for a long time. It is no wonder then that customers would be willing to pay a bit more for such brands. There are many examples of such brands and companies in the market today and they serve as benchmarks for the others. Building such affinity with the brand leads to indefatigable customer loyalty and leaves competitors frustrated. However, the main thing to remember is that irrespective of how strong and prominent a brand is, if it is not complemented by consistently high levels of customer service, it would fail sooner than later. Customer loyalty is created by striking a fine balance between all the aspects of a company’s business and top class service.

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