“All customers are partners in your mission”. – Shep Hyken
We know that customer loyalty is now an ephemeral quality – you might find some rare companies that enjoy this status. If you are not one of them, you know that keeping customers committed is possibly one of the hardest things you have to do. It is even harder if your company is not ‘big’ on building relationships with customers, connecting with them emotionally, and making efforts to understand them. A customer-focus culture is essential to draw people in and then to keep them with your company as profitable and loyal customers – the fact is that if people do not see passion for service in one company, they have umpteen options from which to decide.
Companies too have access to loads of information and if they were to read surveys, they would know that at least 89% of customers move away from a company because it lacked the spirit of service and they received poor experiences. With such a huge amount of business at stake that a company could lose and never get back, it would seem strange that companies still falter in the service area. On the other side, at least 86% customers would be willing to pay at least 25% more if they received top class service – hence an unrelenting focus is required in this realm. Keeping customers committed may not be easy, but it certainly is not impossible and companies that stay focused on doing this will see the benefits, both short and long-term. Competition is more intense than ever and companies do not think twice before attempting to steal customers away. In such a scenario, it is even more imperative that companies consistently put together strategies that will build a customer base that is committed, loyal, and ready to stand by them.
Keeping customers committed is a by-product of great experiences, high quality products and services, and top class customer care. All these factors together would lead to engaged and emotional connections, which in turn would keep customers committed and loyal to a company. Companies need to move from being reactive to having a proactive approach – anticipating needs, problems, and expectations of customers would make it a lot easier for companies to keep customers, than ‘fighting fires’ caused by unfulfilled promises and expectations. It is prudent for companies to reach out to customers regularly, offer customized information based on customer buying history or recent queries, and generally send them value added content, which they would find interesting and engaging enough to read and share with others.
The basis and foundation of keeping customers committed is fostering relationships with them that would transcend the boundaries of making a sale and money off them. It is about really understanding and ‘reading’ each customer well enough such that your company can give them what they need and expect, may be even before they ask. Every interaction customers have with your company must leave a positive and indelible mark on them – drawing them in and keeping them committed. A host of loyal and enthusiastic customers can prove to be a company’s most potent and powerful asset.
Companies that understand that customers interact with a company more from an emotional level rather than a logical one, would be better equipped to understand their motivation and compelling reasons to buy or even connect. Every customer would have some goals and objectives – these could be business related or even personal. A clear understanding of both would help to provide targeted solutions, top class service, and precise pricing – all leading to keeping customers committed and loyal, despite the many ‘temptations’ they may have. Committed customers are a lot easier to manage and sell too – even if your company launches new and untested products and services. These customers would buy since they would already be convinced of the quality of products and service they have received and would continue to get from your company.
Keeping customers committed however, is not a one-time activity. It is achieved over time, and each customer’s ‘journey’ with you company must be constantly monitored, tracked, and analysed to ensure that there are no gaps between what your company believes it provides and what customers feel about it. The gaps in understanding are usually the reasons that create disparity and lead customers to believe that the company no longer cares – sending them straight to the closest competitor. We know that customers leave information and data online all the time. Their social media activity, their business and personal ‘pages’ on these sites, and other online comments – all provide insights into the mind-set and outlook of customers. By mirroring their activity and words, a company would be able to assert its credibility, dependability, and authority in various realms – customers love to associate with companies that appear at the ‘top of their game’. Trust and likeability play a major role in keeping customers committed to a company and or a brand.
If a company expects its customers to stay, it must be able to show them care, empathy, and concern. They do not like to wait and prefer companies that respond speedily and efficiently to even the simplest of queries. Research shows that at least 32% of people that connect with a company online expect to receive a response in half an hour, while 42% are willing to wait an hour. Response timelines that are slow and deficient can be a big put-off for customers and they would rather reach out to companies that would care to respond quickly. Slow responses become even more annoying for customers when they may have had a poor experience with the company. The best way to salvage such experiences is that a company respond swiftly and send out a heartfelt apology, and then swing into action to make amends and provide top class solutions.
The primary motive of any company should be to ensure the success of its customers. The success of its own business would follow, for sure. By creating a culture within the company, each person would understand her or his responsibility and role towards ensuring that the company’s customers are able to build and enhance a business that is successful and becomes a force to reckon with. It would be extremely easy in keeping customers committed and profitable – thereby making the company successful, sustainably. No business can survive without customers – therefore the most logical thing for any company would be to make the success of their customers their top goal. The best way to sustain a culture that is focused on customers is to ensure that every person and department has quantifiable goals with respect to their impact on the success of their customers. The leaders of the company must set the example by ensuring that service to customers forms a key part of their duties and KPIs. Employees emulate their leaders, which in turn would accelerate the drive to keep customers happy and committed, every day and through each interaction.
Customers are sure to reciprocate by staying committed, profitable, and over time becoming the company’s most enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Customers are the lifeline and foundation of any company and by increasing their satisfaction and meeting their needs, keeping customers committed would not be an arduous and cumbersome task.