Customers are your most valuable commodity. If your company is publicly traded, your shareholder valuation is likely based on customer market share and revenue per customer. Yet very few companies spend much time evaluating and brainstorming ways of winning customer loyalty or creating employee systems that ensure that your customer experience is better than the competition.
Here are some basic steps you can take to begin creating a culture of customer loyalty within your company:
1. Make sure that your products are customer friendly.
Design products with your customer in mind. Make it easy for them to purchase your product. Don’t keep asking for the same information over and over again. Capture information in your systems and use it to know your customer. Ask them periodically about their wants and needs. You don’t need to use expensive focus groups, you simply need to sit down with them and genuinely ask for feedback. What you will learn will be worth the investment of time. Make it a habit to ask for customer feedback on a regular basis.
2. Be up-front about pricing and make sure the service you provide is worth it.
All too often I see companies try to hide fees and charges. They are often difficult to figure out and sometimes unreasonable for the service provided. For example: if you have ever had a credit card that you have paid on time every month for years, pay off the entire balance monthly, but missed making a timely payment once while on vacation, you know what I am talking about. Between late fees, interest charges, an automatic increase in interest rate, freezing your card without so much as a phone call, you are left with a pretty bad taste in your mouth. With common practices like this, it isn’t too difficult to stand out and demonstrate that you really care about your customers.
3. Teach your employees at every level how to interact with customers.
I have seen both entry level and executive level employees blow it when it comes to creating value with customer interactions. Spend the time to define the experience you want to provide. Make sure that employees at all levels have been trained and coached on creating the right customer experience.
4. Service failures will happen. Have your service recovery process defined in advance.
Make sure your entire team is skilled at service recovery. Be great at fixing problems, and fix them fast. When customers experience a problem but have a great experience with resolving it, their loyalty is stronger than someone who has never had an issue. Make sure that you have a disciplined approach to handling customer issues, escalating them as they become more difficult, and that it includes keeping your customer informed of how you are diligently working on their issue.
5. Get to work protecting your most valuable asset.
Make customers one of your priorities for 2011. Pick up the phone and talk to your most valuable asset! If you need help creating loyalty disciplines in your company, give us a call. In any case I would love to hear your creative ideas for creating and increasing loyalty.
Start Planning NOW for your Success!