25 October 2015
Let’s talk about customer loyalty. There’s a great lesson in this from television. In Episode 4 of Season 1 of the Andy Griffith Show, new pharmacist Ellie Walker incurs the wrath of Emma, a long-time customer of the pharmacy, when Ellie refuses to hand out Emma’s “special pills” without a prescription. Ellie wins Emma back as a loyal customer by providing “concierge service” afterward.
We’ve all heard the truism that for every one person a happy customer tells about their positive experience of you, a dissatisfied customer tells ten people (or 100, or 1000) about their negative experience.
Said another way, it is more costly to win an angry customer back than it is to invest in keeping them happy and loyal in the first place.
What business owners fail to do is seize opportunities to provide “concierge service” to their current customer base. What I mean is, think of ways you can provide unexpected value to your customers in order to retain their loyalty, even if you make a mistake later. I’m not talking about giving them discounts. I’m talking about providing value that they didn’t expect from you. I think this is a great way to reduce the risk of losing customers.
Here’s a short article from Help Scout that summarizes nicely some immediate steps you can take when dealing with dissatisfied customers.
I have my own take on customer loyalty. From a Learning perspective:
- Include a customer loyalty or customer awareness module in all of your new employee orientation.
- Make explicit the link between each employee’s specific job duties and the role they play in providing customers with a positive experience of your company.
- Hold regular roundtables with your customer service team, and discuss actual customer services cases so that everybody on your team can be “on the same page”.
From a Quality perspective:
- Product or service “defects” are within your control to manage. Any business of any size can take action to reduce defects. And remember, investing resources here is cheaper than the cost of losing customers or trying to win them back.
- Make your initial contact with customers “error proof” as far as providing value goes. In process improvement circles, this is known as “poka-yoke,” a Japanese term for mistake-proofing. Think of the value of making certain a customer’s first experience with you is error free.
What success stories do you have regarding customer loyalty? Share them with us, we’d like to hear about them. Leave a comment below.