“Customer loyalty is priceless,” – Jeffrey Gitomer
Every customer is important for a business and therefore the business enterprise has a duty to attract customers, serve each customer per his / her requirements, and build customer satisfaction; these are on-going processes wherein a business seeks to match its offerings to the desires and expectations of the customer. A business needs to assess customer preferences and behaviours from the myriad interactions it undertakes with its customers. The ensuing dialogue between the customer and the business offers a rich trove of information that can be used to serve customers better.
We should note that the business imperative of driving customer loyalty can be achieved when a business pays close attention to customers and their requirements. This implies that the business must acknowledge the fact that no two customers are the same, and every customer can have a different objective in mind when transacting with the company. This kind of information needs to be mapped and retained because a deeper analysis of such information can help shape better business practices. Moreover, such information can help the business to track individual likes and dislikes – such information can be used to fashion bespoke offers for customers. The benefits of such actions can include greater profits, a wider customer base, and significant wins in terms of relationships with customers.
Driving customer loyalty must be a top business priority. A business enterprise may choose to earn and retain customer loyalty through all the channels at its disposal. Modern technology allows a business to connect to customers through a multiplicity of channels: telephone, interactive voice response, email, online chat, video chat, social media, postal service, and many others. Each channel offers the business an opportunity to create a first class customer service experience. When re-created consistently, the experience has the potential to earn customer loyalty for the business. Loyal customers can help a business in many ways: by offering honest feedback to the business, staying away from competing products and services, sharing their product experiences with friends and family, trying out new products and services, and working as brand ambassadors for the business. The benefits accrue even more when a business focuses on driving customer loyalty through multiple channels.
A firm’s customer service operations may be executed at multiple levels; however, it should optimize customer services through online channels. Driving customer loyalty through online is important, being predicated on the fact that online has evolved into a significant platform through which customers can and do access product and service information. A large (and growing) number of customers are completing multiple transactions through online points of contact with an enterprise. Online shopping, online product and service comparison, and online purchases are becoming the new business reality in many sectors of the economy. Therefore, a narrow focus on traditional channels can result in wasted budgets because significant scope exists for driving customer loyalty through online channels.
Driving customer loyalty also means that a company must know how to take care of its customers. In this regard, the first thing an enterprise must focus on is to solve the customers’ problems. This can emerge as an overt corporate goal and can help the enterprise to stand out from the competition. Customer service representatives at all levels can be trained to professionally interact with customers, while taking care to actually address customer requirements or grievances. Customer loyalty will automatically improve when customers are assured that the company cares about the end-user experience for its products or services.
Surveys and polls are ideal tools to source feedback from customers. These tools can be embedded in online customer service channels, such as email, chats, and social media. A regular sampling and assessment of such feedback can offer the modern corporate enterprise a steady stream of information regarding customer preferences and problems. This information can be used to craft a better customer experience and remains one of the best ways of driving customer loyalty. Consider this: a new product launched by a company may attract indifferent reviews and bland interest from customers. The product must make money to justify the company’s investment in said product. A less-than-enthusiastic market reaction may prompt the company to investigate the reasons thereof, and seek customers’ feedback through online media (because such channels attract the maximum traction in a connected world). Inputs from customers can be harvested, collated, and analyzed to tweak and improve future versions of the said product. These actions can turn around a potentially ruinous situation and help avert disaster. Such a course of action can also help the company to rebuild and regain customer loyalty.
Tough market competition can test the best of corporate houses. However, such competition remains a fact of life for most businesses. In the globalized world, customers have a wide choice in terms of the products and services they want. Therefore, driving customer loyalty can pose a challenge even to seasoned businesses. Corporate chieftains need to tackle these matters by promoting customer loyalty objectives across all customer service channels. Every channel needs to be sensitised to the requirements of the customer; customer attributes must be examined and evaluated to tailor decent end-user experiences. For instance, customer service representatives that operate on telephone and email should be trained to offer spontaneous service experiences. The touch of human courtesy can convince most customers that the business is interested in the customers’ wellbeing and this can ensure a firm differentiating factor from other businesses. Under no circumstances can an enterprise afford to build a reputation that it cannot fulfil customer demands in an appropriate manner. Further, various metrics can be designed to track whether customer loyalty is rising or falling in the aftermath of such efforts. Corrective actions need to be taken to arrest declining loyalty.
The modern commercial enterprise needs to acknowledge that customer loyalty cannot be taken for granted. An initial spurt in customer loyalty metrics should not be taken as indicative that the customer is forever aligned with the business objectives of a corporate house. Efforts, however miniscule, tend to have an accretive effect and should be the watchword for every business that intends to retain its customers. Driving customer loyalty should become part of the ethos of every corporate enterprise and should become ingrained in the actions of every employee, irrespective of rank. This kid of corporate discipline can help the corporate enterprise to ride through business cycles, and through the different phases that every national economy is subject. In this context, we may note that the development of low-cost, but reliable products and services can be contemplated as a hedge against the vicissitudes of the modern marketplace.
In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined the importance of driving customer loyalty through the multiple channels of customer service. A business can profile its customers based on the level of its interactions with the said customer. Modern technologies offer plenty of methods to gain customer information. Every enterprise needs to bear in mind that current customers have the potential to bring in new customers. The centrality of this concept is based on the fact, that more customers translate into higher volumes of business, which can lead to wide profit margins. Therefore, it is incumbent on every business house to cherish customer loyalty.