If you are in the business of customer service and customer support – take note: It’s Customer Loyalty Month. What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it’s a great time to take a personal and company-wide inventory of just how well you are treating and servicing your customers. How would you rate your customer loyalty? Could it be improved? Chances are, it could. We have five tips to help you not only improve customer loyalty at your company, but to make your customers happily loyal to your brand and company.
Customer Loyalty Tip #1: Your customer’s problems are your problems
If your attitude toward customer service is that your role is to mitigate damage, or to simply put out fires and move on to the next problem, Customer Service Month is a great time to re-think this thought process.
Customer concerns are no small issue, and if your customer has a problem with your product, service, or the way a problem was handled, consider this your new problem – it’s not just a problem happening to someone else, but it’s an issue that now affects you directly. Does this thought-shift change how you’ll handle the problem? It should. Unhappy customers tend not to be loyal customers for long, so consider how you can possibly solve their problem in a way that you personally would be pleased with. Ask yourself – if this happened to me, how would I want the problem solved? What would be the best possible outcome in this scenario? How would I want the company to respond to me and solve this issue? As much as it’s in your power to do so, act and treat that customer accordingly.
Customer Loyalty Tip #2: Don’t reinvent the wheel, especially when it comes to discounts and rewards
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J.C. Penney was once one of the titans in department store sales. In 2012, sales fell by 25% and the former Apple Stores’ leader Ron Johnson, who was hired to spiff up the stores and increase sales, was fired. Among Johnson’s cited failures was that he alienated customers, decreasing customer’s “loyalty engagement levels” to a new low of 70%. (Competitor department store Kohl’s has a level of 84% and Macy’s is at 82%. At 65%, a brand is said to be on its way out.) One major flaw in Johnson’s strategy was eliminating the discounts that customers had relied on – Johnson instead rolled out “everyday low pricing.” With the brand in peril, Myron Ullman, J.C. Penney’s re-instated CEO, is desperately bringing back the deep discounts in hopes that he can lure customers back and once again regain the loyalty of customers who relied on Penney’s tried and true formula. Lesson learned? When it comes to rewarding customers, don’t reinvent the wheel; customers appreciate offers, discounts, and rewards.
Customer Loyalty Tip #3: Remind your customers why they should be loyal
When considering customer loyalty and how your customers feel about your service and brand, never assume that customers remember or even know the large and small ways you are providing service. Keep your brand and service top-of-mind through e-newsletters, personal emails, or even phone calls (depending, of course, on the type of service you offer and the number of customers you have). It’s not arrogant to point out the ways you are helping your customers – it’s simply a good practice. Highlight your rewards, make sure customers know how they can easily contact you if problems arise, and even pick “customer testimonials” to drive home the point that your service is making a difference for other people, as well.
Customer Loyalty Tip #4: Take a tip from a ballpark
If you live in or around the Bay Area and have season tickets to the Giants baseball team games, chances are, you are feeling the love from the organization. To help increase customer loyalty and ensure that fans will come back for repeat seasons, the Giants organization assigned personal representatives to each season ticket holder to ensure that the fan is happy with his or her experience. Yes, you read that right — every person who has a season ticket has the personal phone number and e-mail of his or her very own customer representative. Season ticket holders can sell seats for games they can’t attend, ask questions, or even file complaints if something such as their scanned ticket didn’t work when entering the park. It’s personal service at its best, and it’s just one way that the Giants have managed to keep their fans wildly loyal.
Customer Loyalty Tip #5: Treat your best customers like they’re relatives
Do you send birthday cards to your grandmother, aunt, and/or siblings? How about your customers? If not, why not? When it comes to customer loyalty, if your business involves more personal relationships with customers, make sure you write down their birthdays, anniversaries, and important life events. Send a card, hand-written or personally signed, if possible, and be sure to thank your customer along with your note of celebration or congratulations. Your customers will remember this nice touch.
Now get out there and start building loyal customer relationships!
We hope that during Customer Loyalty Month you put in extra effort to remind your customers just how much you appreciate their business. Post our 5 tips up in a visible place, and practice them, year-round. With persistent attention to your customers, you’ll start to build not just loyal customers, but happily loyal customers.