It’s still the beginning of the new year – keep it happy!
Next week, on Feb 1st, I will celebrate my 25th year of being in business. That I’ve made that milestone makes me happy. So as I’m packing up to head out to a few speaking engagements I thought I might once more cover some of the basics of why we are all here – why I’m in business and why you are in business– to make customers happy and invite them to stick around and become loyal to our product, our service or our cause.
The customer experience you deliver makes or breaks customer loyalty. With so many choices today, it’s the quality of the experience –how you repeatedly make your customers feel at each and every touchpoint– that will determine whether or not they’ll come back, purchase more, and refer their colleagues and friends to you.
It’s all about your customers’ perceptionof the value you deliver, both tangible and intangible.
You may think you know the kind of customer experience you’re delivering, and that your customers share your views. You may think that because your customers stick around and don’t complain that they are loyal. In fact, you may be mistaking customer inertia for loyalty. It’s easy to do.
Remember that loyalty is a genuine emotional attachment
that occurs when your customers appreciate the value of your product or service, as well as the way you deliver it. When they repeatedly feel powerful, positive emotions in dealing with you they’ll choose you above your competitors – even if they have to go out of their way or pay a bit more. When they align with your values and get the attention they crave, they will help you build your business. When they feel good about doing business with you they can become evangelists, spreading your story fast.
Yes, strong customer loyalty pays. It puts your business into a profit-building cycle in a number of common sense, drop-to-the-bottom-line ways:
- Loyal customers usually buy more – and are often willing to pay more. This creates a steadier cash flow.
- Loyal customers refer others to your business – saving you the marketing and advertising costs of acquiring customers.
- Loyal customers are more forgiving when you make mistakes – even big ones (especially if you have a system in place that empowers employees to correct errors on the spot, then loyal customers become even more loyal!).
- A loyal customer’s endorsement can surpass the most extravagant marketing efforts. Think of how low-budget films become blockbuster hits thanks to positive word of mouth.
- Thriving companies with high customer loyalty usually have loyal employees – and loyal employees save you money in a variety of ways. You don’t have to spend money attracting, hiring and training new employees, and you have knowledgeable people at all levels of the organization serving the customers and each other. And those employees get very smart over time – in a culture that values them and their contributions, they can be responsible for countless system improvements – and millions in savings.
- Loyal customers understand your processes and can offer suggestions for improvement. Their feedback can help with R&D efforts as well as improvement efforts.
- hriving companies with high customer and employee loyalty are generally known to outpace their competitors in innovation. In addition, their happy cultures support continuous learning. In today’s market, if you’re not continuously learning and innovating, there’s no question that you’re falling behind.
- Profits, profits, and did we say profits? An increase in your retention of customers can boost your bottom line profit 25-100% depending on your fixed costs. An increase in employee happiness can cut health costs, accidents, absenteeism and increase productivity and performance, adding to that bottom line boost.
Go ahead, take my New Year’s suggestion and make this the“Year of Customer Happiness.” Invest in your culture, your people and your customers!
Keep ‘Em Happy!