A key part of running a company is securing brand new customers. However, making sure these customers have a good experience and want to come back time and time again is perhaps even more important. Here we look at some simple ways companies can inspire customer loyalty.
Develop high quality products & services
Keep a close eye on what your competitors are offering. If your competitors start offering a new innovation, you could be left behind if you do not follow suit. Better still, your company could be the first to offer a particular product innovation or service, allowing you to really stand out from the crowd. Always consider how you can improve an existing product or service to add extra value.
Explain how things work
Depending on the industry you operate in, it may be appropriate to produce a user guide, manual or similar document that is given to customers when they purchase products or services. Let the customer know how they can get maximum value from their purchase.
Be honest about your limitations
What level of service you can provide to your customers depends on a number of constraining factors, such as your company’s financial resources; your staffing levels; the knowledge, skills and experience of your staff; the size of your company premises; your location; and more. So it is important that when you make a promise, it is something you can deliver. It is tempting to promise the world to potential new customers, but if you can’t keep these promises, customers are likely to become aggrieved.
Train your staff in customer services
Ensure your staff know what represents good customer service. If you aren’t in a position to provide customer service training yourself, then consider external training providers. The training might cost money in the short-term, but the costs could be more than recouped as satisfied customers keep coming back.
Reward staff for good service
Your staff are probably primarily concerned with turning up, doing their hours and going home, picking up their salary every month. Providing financial or other rewards to those who go the extra mile with customers should mean that they also become motivated to treat customers well.
Address customer wants
Providing excellent customer service means responding to what the customer wants. If your customers want any of the following, for example, then you need to seriously consider providing it:
- Retail premises and/or a telephone customer service centre that is open outside of usual office hours
- The ability to make enquiries via email, your website, social media etc.
- The opportunity to buy online
- Deliveries to customers’ home addresses
- The chance to make payments via different methods
Keep customers informed
A customer may be much more likely to buy from you again if you regularly remind them of your existence. You can send out company newsletters or similar via post and/or e-mail, and you can invite customers to follow your company on social media sites, where you can also make announcements about new products & services, special offers etc.
Note that the law requires you to give all customers the opportunity to opt out of receiving communications, and to comply with any such instructions immediately.
Introduce a loyalty scheme
Can you encourage customers to return by offering them special deals? One way this can be done is via a loyalty card scheme or similar.
Ensure you have a top notch complaints procedure
Even in the best run companies, things will occasionally go wrong, and customers will make complaints and air their grievances. Whether you believe that their complaints are justified or not, clearly someone who in their mind has cause to complain is much less likely to provide you with repeat business.
In some cases, a single grievance will put a customer off your company for life, regardless of how well you might have treated that customer over the preceding months and years, so everything should be done to prevent complaints.
But other customers might welcome the fact that you have handled their complaint well, and in doing so you might be able to restore their trust.
Your company should have a documented complaints procedure. In some industries, this is a regulatory requirement, but in any case it is certainly good business practice to have a procedure in place.
Sometimes giving an apology and assuring the customer you have put the matter right will be enough.
If you have seriously disadvantaged a customer, then an appropriate course of action could be to make an offer of compensation, which might be a cash sum, or the opportunity to make a free or discounted purchase. Even if you believe you are in the right and the customer is totally wrong, any sort of goodwill gesture that might make them feel better about your company, and could benefit you in the longer term.
Monitor your suppliers
If you rely on other companies to supply goods and services, make sure you closely monitor the quality of each supplier, and take action where issues are identified.