So many companies are going about the “customer loyalty” thing all wrong. Realizing the importance of loyal customers is just the beginning.
Conventional Wisdom says…
For a long time, companies believed that loyalty programs were simply offering volume discounts. They would give us cards that we would get punched every time we visited their store and after ten punch marks, the next was on them. Sorry, but having to carry your paper card around for months at a time so you can give me a 9% discount just didn’t seem worth it. Besides, I usually lost the card somewhere between the 8th and 10th punch marks. If you believe this works, you may be right but it certainly isn’t loyalty your building. Nope; you’re building a client base of bargain shoppers and alienating those repeat users that don’t want to participate because of the hassle, feeling they are being overcharged.
Frequent User Discounts Does Not Equal Loyal Customers
Offering volume discounts does work but too many company owners and CEOs believe this is how to build customer loyalty. Actually, customer loyalty is not earned through frequent user programs. Generic programs tend to make your customers feel less than special, more part of the general user group.
What is Customer Loyalty
Loyal customers are created by their experiences with your staff and product/services. It is a feeling they get when they think about your company. They feel like you care about them; not the money they spend. Customer loyalty is powerful for two reasons. Since none of us are perfect, it is your “Get Out of Jail” card. If you’ve done an excellent job of building loyalty with a customer, they will forgive you if you are less than perfect on an occasion. Also, loyal customers are salespeople for your company. Loyalty is confidence in your product or service. If they have it, loyal customers will brag about you to their friends and business associates.
Fill ‘er Up
I believe that every customer comes to your company with an empty cup of loyalty. Over time, and through interaction with your team, the cup is filled. For some customers, loyalty flows freely while other more discerning customers will take a long time. Either way, your ability to keep that customer after a service issue correlates directly to the amount of loyalty you’ve built up. Similarly, the more loyalty in their cup, the better your chances of them introducing you to a new customer.