18 January 2017
Customer loyalty isn’t an on or off switch – it adds up over time.
“It’s about the quality of the service or commodity you’re selling and the quality of the relationship,” says Melbourne business coach Barry Spanger from Client Edge. “You and your team need to develop relationships with customers and show them that you’re capable of fulfilling your promises,” he says. “Loyalty comes when customers realise your company will be there for them.” Devoted customers have had a series of positive interactions that over time have led to their rock-solid loyalty.
So how can you build customer loyalty through small steps? Here are three key tips:
Personal still matters
In our digital age, it may seem strange to recommend refining your business’ face-to-face interactions. But it’s essential, according to Spanger. “People do business with people, not companies,” he says.
And while it may seem like simple customer service, building strong personal relationships takes time and focus.
For example, you can make a big difference to new customers’ perceptions of your business by starting conversations that go beyond their transactions, such as asking how their day is going.
“Loyalty comes when your customers realise you will service them over and above the call of duty,” Spanger says.
Test it out
For small businesses, using a professional ‘secret shopper’ service may seem extravagant. But you don’t need to shell out big bucks to get the same insights. Instead, ask friends, family and acquaintances to road-test your offering. Encourage them to visit your business, go to your website or call up with an enquiry.
Then, ask them about their experiences. You’ll get a sense of how your team are performing and how your products or services are perceived.
Another approach is to ask customers to leave a review online. Even negative reviews have real value – they point to what could be done better.
Avoid growing pains
As your business grows and your customer base increases, you’ll be faced with a new challenge: how to maintain a personal touch.
One way to ensure you can maintain highly personal service as your business scales up is to use customer relationship management (CRM) software. Small and medium-sized business owners and managers find CRM software help them avoid duplicated phone calls – or worse, missed customer inquiries. You can see what’s in the sales pipeline, and which undecided customers might benefit from a call back.
Used well, CRM software enables you and your staff to combine technology and personal approaches to maximum effect.
Officeworks, 18 January 2017