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The Road to Customer Loyalty Peggy Carlaw

Road to Loyalty 2winding road other crop1 The Road to Customer LoyaltyCus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion has long been the pre­dom­i­nant mea­sure of a company’s suc­cess. While it’s impor­tant to sat­isfy the cus­tomers your busi­ness serves, per­haps the most impor­tant mea­sure of suc­cess for businesses—large and small—is cus­tomer loy­alty. It is cus­tomer loy­alty, derived from con­sis­tent efforts to deliver cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, which leads to an increase in sales, refer­rals, and profits.

So how do you secure cus­tomer loy­alty? It isn’t some­thing your com­pany can do eas­ily or overnight. Cus­tomers tend to remain loyal to those com­pa­nies who con­tinue to impress them with the value of their prod­uct or ser­vice, com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, and con­ve­nience. But the most impor­tant fac­tor deter­min­ing cus­tomer loy­alty is qual­ity cus­tomer service!

Fos­ter­ing Cus­tomer Loyalty

Fol­low­ing are some tips for improv­ing cus­tomer loy­alty at your organization:

Hir­ing

In order to cre­ate and main­tain a suc­cess­ful busi­ness, you must hire the right peo­ple for the job. Select­ing can­di­dates who have the nec­es­sary skills (or the abil­ity to learn them) and a great atti­tude will help you to cre­ate a pos­i­tive work­ing envi­ron­ment, and one where employ­ees strive to con­tin­u­ously show their ded­i­ca­tion to the cus­tomers they serve.

In gen­eral, you’ll want to screen for can­di­dates who can plan and exe­cute their work, make deci­sions and solve prob­lems, exer­cise good judg­ment, and con­nect with other peo­ple. More specif­i­cally, you should take time dur­ing the hir­ing process to ask each can­di­date about his or her moti­va­tion for pur­su­ing the posi­tion. It’s impor­tant that you choose peo­ple who truly have a desire to serve, and who will put a great deal of energy into mak­ing cus­tomers happy. This desire to serve will show through in their cus­tomer inter­ac­tions and trans­late into loyal customers.

Train­ing

Another nec­es­sary step on the road to cus­tomer loy­alty is an effec­tive train­ing pro­gram that gives employ­ees the knowl­edge and skills they need to excel at their jobs. Addi­tion­ally, by invest­ing in train­ing, man­age­ment con­veys a com­mit­ment to employ­ees’ suc­cess and a con­fir­ma­tion of their value to the com­pany. When employ­ees feel con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties and sat­is­fied with their role in the com­pany, they are likely to be hap­pier, more effi­cient work­ers who take pride in serv­ing their customers.

Incen­tive Pro­grams for Employees

Another way to encour­age ded­i­ca­tion to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is to imple­ment an incen­tive pro­gram for your employ­ees. One type of incen­tive pro­gram is an Employee of the Month (or Employee of the Quar­ter) pro­gram. Rather than reward­ing the per­son with the most sales or the high­est sales total in a given time period, you might honor the employee who receives the most pos­i­tive feed­back from cus­tomers. If you don’t cur­rently have a cus­tomer sur­vey mech­a­nism in place, it may be a good idea to add a sur­vey to your web site or phone sys­tem, or send out e-mail sur­veys to cus­tomers who have pro­vided you with their information.

While it might not be necessary—or even feasible—to pro­vide a mon­e­tary reward to the win­ner, you can be cre­ative in how you honor your excep­tional employ­ees. For exam­ple, you might print their names in the com­pany newslet­ter with a brief descrip­tion of what they did for cus­tomers or you can have a high-level man­ager send out a company-wide e-mail prais­ing the employee. It shouldn’t mat­ter what the reward is—as long as you show your employ­ees that you’re aware of the good work they’re doing to improve cus­tomer loyalty.

Rewards Pro­grams for Customers

In addi­tion to reward­ing your employ­ees for sat­is­fy­ing cus­tomers, you may also con­sider insti­tut­ing a rewards pro­gram for loyal cus­tomers. Depend­ing on your type of busi­ness, there are many ways you can achieve this. One is by offer­ing dis­counts to repeat cus­tomers or cus­tomers who refer oth­ers. Another is to keep track of cus­tomer pur­chases, and reward cus­tomers with a free prod­uct or ser­vice when their total reaches a cer­tain num­ber (i.e. a free sand­wich after the sixth pur­chase). Using a point sys­tem (like air­line miles) is another way to reward your cus­tomers for being loyal to your organization.

Free ship­ping is a great loy­alty strat­egy for online com­pa­nies. Because a ship­ping charge is thought of as a deal breaker for many con­sumers, stud­ies have shown that most peo­ple tend to choose a free ship­ping offer over a dis­count of 10 to 15 per­cent, even when the dis­count would actu­ally save them more money. E-mailing repeat cus­tomers an offer code for free ship­ping is a great way to thank them for their business—and ensure that they’ll keep com­ing back!

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  • Eva

    Wow!!! Can I Go work for you!!!!!! Your absolutely right!! Cus­tomers that had been with the com­pany for years and ordered more than over $2000. per month would always ask me, if there was a dis­count or free ship­ping or any­thing to thank them for their ser­vice. Most of the time I would give them the dis­counts that could offi­cially give them and as always I had to put a note as to why I gave him the dis­count, most of my notes would be: cus­tomer since.….and always orders in large amounts or some­thing to reflect his loy­al­ity to the com­pany. Some times they would ask for a free cap or T.…but our com­pany only did that once. I tried to bring it to my Team Leader's atten­tion, that it would be good for our com­pany if we imple­mented on some brain­storm­ing to give some­thing back to our loyal cus­tomers, but it was a brush of the shoul­der and no action. I did not want to overide my Team Leader, so I didn't make the move to go above her. And when I did, the one time I did, they sug­gested I go back to her and ask her.…..se la vi!! well.….I said I'd love to go work with you!!! One thing I made sure my cus­tomers knew is that they were a big asset to our com­pany, and that we appre­ci­ated his busi­ness, and never to hes­i­tate to call and ask for me for assis­tance, because I knew I would do the right thing, and if I had to jump fences to make sure that this cus­tomer got some rewards (that we owed him)…I would, but the best part about it was that the cus­tomer also knew I would jump those fences for him and they trusted me…and they always stayed loyal. It really is a shame when the man­agers don't care to see this, but yet they want you to pre­form well or out the door you send you.
    Eva

  • http://www.inteliwise.com Vir­tual Agent

    Great tips! I absolutely agree that it starts with the right crew of peo­ple that has been instilled with proper work ethic and the right kind of cus­tomer man­age­ment. When they know what to do in almost all sit­u­a­tions, they can prop­erly serve their cus­tomers with the best intents. Reward pro­grams for both the cus­tomers and the employ­ees is def­i­nitely the right way to encour­age loy­alty and support.

  • http://www.pdtraining.com.au/ Nego­ti­a­tion Skills

    Free ship­ping is a great loy­alty strat­egy for online com­pa­nies. Because a ship­ping charge is thought of as a deal breaker for many consumers,

  • http://www.thespanishmachine.co.uk Span­ish lessons

    In gen­eral, you’ll want to screen for can­di­dates who can plan and exe­cute their work, make deci­sions and solve prob­lems, exer­cise good judg­ment, and con­nect with other people.

  • http://www.rxonepharmacy.com/ Via­gra Online

    While it might not be necessary—or even feasible—to pro­vide a
    mon­e­tary reward to the win­ner, you can be cre­ative in how you honor
    your excep­tional employ­ees. For exam­ple, you might print their names
    in the com­pany newslet­ter with a brief descrip­tion of what they did
    for cus­tomers or you can have a high-level man­ager send out a
    company-wide e-mail prais­ing the employee. It shouldn’t mat­ter what
    the reward is—as long as you show your employ­ees that you’re aware of
    the good work they’re doing to improve cus­tomer loyalty.






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