Customer loyalty has much more to do with delivering on the everyday service promises than with the dazzling one-off experiences a corporate marketing team may execute twice a year. That is not to say those extra efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated, but if the customer service team keeps the client on hold for 10 minutes, or the airlines are chronically late while losing your luggage, all the fancy reward programs won’t salvage the relationship.
Everyday services are the reason we have customers to begin with. They expect to pay for those services, and in return, receive the prompt attention and quality of service that has been advertised. The customer shouldn’t have to email or call three times for a price quote that the supplier claims can happen the same day. Competitive pricing doesn’t mean the same product or service will be found tomorrow for 50% less. And on-time delivery doesn’t mean the order arrives a day later than promised.
To increase customer loyalty, there are a few basic things to remember:
- Build correct expectations. Everyone’s expectations are different, even for the same service. Approach each client as a unique individual.
- Over-deliver: Attention to detail; consistent, accurate follow-up throughout the entire purchase cycle; and proactive attention to customer needs before they are ready to purchase are all ways to surprise and delight without the fireworks.
- Correct problems quickly. Excellent service doesn’t always mean flawless service. When problems arise, move quickly to minimize the impact on the customer.
- Reduce their effort. The work they must do to get their problem solved should be nominal. Whether the problem is the initial purchase, or the unexpected product flaw after delivery, every customer should feel like they are your only priority until the problem is solved.
- Stay consistent. Your level of service should be the same when business is slow as it is when the phones are ringing off the hook. Your staffing challenges should never become your customer’s problem.
Bottom line, our customers shouldn’t be expected to work or worry about the everyday services they come to us for in the first place. Deliver what you promise, and your company will reap the rewards of improved customer retention – loyalty, repeat business and positive promotion.
(Image via Hugh MacLeod at Gapingvoid.com)