Some people say customer loyalty is a myth, but it exists! Others say it is a thing of the past but we disagree. With the right amount of effort and dedication, customer loyalty can be earned and even retained. Even in a world made small with almost limitless options thanks to vast, ever-expanding connectivity, consumers will reward companies that consistently deliver a great product and quality service.
Don’t believe us? You need only look as far as Apple for proof. Such avid fans are dedicated apple consumers that their dedication has spawned a book entitled, “The Cult of Mac” which analyzes that same fanaticism. Meanwhile CultofMac.com is an independent site dedicated to bringing breaking apple news to apple fans. Embracing the below practices may not earn you quite that rabid of a consumer base, but it never hurts to make an effort to ingratiate yourself to the customers that are the lifeblood of your business.
Relationships matter, act accordingly
As humans we all place value on relationships and interactions, even fleeting ones. It follows then, that no one ever likes to feel any relationship or action exists simply to further the needs (read: sales et al) of one party. Let customers know that whatever work you do with them is about more than a bottom line.
Hold genuine interest
This goes hand-in-hand with the above, but is an important point in its own right. In any of your professional businesses, take the time to develop and display a genuine interest in those you are working with – be they consumers or co-workers. Take time to notice the little things, like tastes and preferences, and ask relevant questions about wants, needs and opinions.
For most of us, trust is something that we bestow upon others when we feel secure with them, when it has been earned. We trust in those we feel are upstanding, honest and reliable; striving to be all of the above in your business dealings encourages your customers to trust you. Most people would also agree that it’s safe to say that trust is a key factor in loyalty, perhaps even a building block of loyalty.
Admit when you can’t do something
As business owners we always want to deliver what our customers need from us, but you should never make promises you can’t keep. Being open with customers and working with them to get past any limitations or making a recommendation of someone you genuinely feel can help them will show them that meeting their needs is your first priority, even if it means more work on your part, or even sending them elsewhere. That is a person we would take our business back to time and time again.
Free your mind
Chances are you’re in the business that you’re in because you have a knowledge of and talent for that business, but don’t let your expertise shut others out. Make yourself open to suggestions from customers who have specific needs that need to be met, even if what they envision isn’t the perfect solution. By listening, you may be able to help them improve on it.
Give competitors credit where credit is due
Okay, okay, we already kind of addressed this one, but it bears repeating. A willingness to point your customers to competitors or indicate instances where competitors might better serve them lets them know that your concern really is for them. It may mean giving up an opportunity now, but the gesture will not be forgotten.
Ditch the sales pitch
Treat others as you want to be treated – remember that golden rule? Well, it applies in business too. When you are speaking with your customers, speak with them as you would want someone in your position to speak to you – have a conversation, answer questions, provide information, but don’t be pushy.
You’re a professional, act accordingly
Let your knowledge, expertise and passion shine in every interaction with your customers; those are all marks of a professional who is genuinely dedicated to their field. Just remember to keep that professional polish up front and center with your customers as well.
Never compromise your integrity
This one is pretty simple: do the right thing, no matter what.
Have fun with them
Make the experience of working with or purchasing from your company a fun one for yourself and for your customers. Just because it’s business, it doesn’t have to be boring. Take care of what needs to be taken care of, but instill a little joy into the process as well.