Creating customer loyalty
Repeat customers. The final, and yet arguably the most important stage in the customer lifecycle.
Sales people are continually looking for new customers and new business, but if the statistics are to be believed there is much more value, and less cost to a company, in retaining current customers.
The most obvious thing that comes to mind when you think about loyalty (in business terms) is the many different types of customer loyalty programmes companies offer. Supermarkets, petrol stations, coffee shops, in fact the majority of retailers have some type of programme in place. I’ve got a wallet full of cards – instead of keeping me loyal to one retailer I collect cards and use them all. And I suspect I’m not alone in this. So these programmes, rather than creating loyalty as the name suggests, are really used by the companies to collect information about your shopping habits.
If you’re looking to create real loyalty in your customers you need to look deeper than just giving them a card. Customer service is the key, developing your company and brand to reflect your customers values and ethics, and being loyal to them in return.
In a service industry such as a hotel, bar or restaurant, excellent customer service should already be top of your agenda, but all businesses need to concentrate on their customers’ expectations and how they can exceed them.
Talk to your customers or rather give them the opportunity to talk to you. Find out what they want, how they want it and when they want it – and then provide it (the way they want).
Not all customers are the same. It is easy to slot them into categories, and sometimes this can work, but it isn’t always wise. It is worth treating them as individuals, personalising your approach and tailoring your service as much as possible. They will appreciate the effort and if this means you can provide exactly what they’re looking for its likely they will stick with you.
3. Keep them informed
Stay in touch with customers; emails, phone calls, meetings, social media – there are many different ways to do this, but it’s important to keep them informed about your company (as well as learning out about them).
4. Be reliable & consistent
Meet your commitments. If you’ve promised to deliver a product or service by a certain date make sure you do. And continue to do so as long as the customer wants it. Any customer who knows they can rely on a company will come back, if they can’t – they’ll look elsewhere.
5. Create a customer focused culture
Excellent customer service shouldn’t be left only to those in the customer service department or on the shop floor. If you want to create customer loyalty the whole company needs to be involved.
6. Solve problems
When a customer has a problem with a product or service, listen to them and find out how you can help. People understand that not everything goes to plan all the time, but it’s how you deal with the difficulties that will make a customer return.
7. Go the extra mile
Provide customers with that little extra. It doesn’t need to be expensive; just spending some time listening to a customer and paying attention to their needs, leaving a handwritten note in a hotel room, walking a customer to the room/shop etc. that they’re looking for instead or pointing or telling them...
8. Encourage feedback
Asking customers about the products or services you’re providing is essential – it can lead to new ideas and product development, new customers, and of course help you find out what problems or concerns your customers are having. Without this information you won’t know what needs improving or changing.
9. Be open and honest
If you are having difficulty providing a particular service or delivering a product on a specific day let the customer know – and explain why. Not knowing or being told what is happening is very frustrating as many travellers will know if they’ve had flights delayed or cancelled.
10. Create employee loyalty
Employees who like the companies they work for are usually happier in their work, and this will show in their attitudes and behaviour towards your customers. Empower employees, provide training opportunities, listen to their concerns and work with them to ensure you have an engaged workforce.
Loyal customers will return, they’ll spend more, and they’ll tell others about their experiences. Positive word of mouth marketing is the best you can get, and it is definitely worth the effort spending a little time reviewing your customer service practices, developing your company and encouraging repeat customers.
At Leisuresec we understand the importance of customer loyalty. We have worked with a number of clients for many years and are always striving to continue this trend. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch.