Building high value customer relationships is the primary basis of any healthy organization. During the past five years I have had the opportunity to discuss with many senior leaders what they do to build customer loyalty and many said that it was the hardest thing going on in their company. As an executive consultant I’m often presented with challenges that are what I call ‘One-Offs’ which means they are isolated to one situation, but I’ve been hearing many different leaders voice this same concern.
Customer loyalty is a simple term that refers to the depth of the relationship and connection customers have with the business. The deeper the relationship the longer it will last and the more mutually beneficial it will be for both the customer and the company. Companies that have the strongest loyal customers are usually the healthiest.
But as time passes customers can get the urge to consider alternative sources for a variety of reasons. Why is this happening with such high frequency? Here are four reasons:
1. People inside your company are not working as one team.
Everyone in your company can give you useful insights and suggestions. Gone are the days that everything comes from research and executive committees. Really, who cares where the idea comes from as long as it comes? If you encourage people to become involved and celebrate their successes they will contribute more and your customers will know and appreciate your company’s singular focus.
2. Everyone in your company should know your customers on a first name basis.
For much larger organizations this is not always easy given their large number of customers. However, leveraging new technologies can provide everyone in the company with a substantial amount of information about a customer, including their first name. This is not optional; rather, it’s a new requirement that you and your full team should aspire. It’s not just for the sales team to do, but also for everyone actively involved in delivering value to your customers. Regardless of your company size, the more you know about your customers the more your customers will want to know about you.
3. Measuring important metrics is lacking.
Most organizations know their spending metrics but few know the actual value their customer feels from them. A lot has been written on Marketing ROI but still, very few companies actively track and analyze their customers’ engagement connections. For example, do you know the depth of engagement they feel with your company? At full throttle your company should know the marketing spend for each customer and also the immediate value the customer feels. This will allow you to make adjustments on the fly based on actual data metrics and results. Things to track include awareness, appreciation, feedback suggestions, quality perceptions and overall satisfaction. These measurements should be ongoing each month or quarter, not conducted once every five years or more, as so often is the case.
4. You’re communications are not aligned with your organizational strategy.
What you say to a prospective customer in an elevator should be the same thing you say to an established customer and that’s what should be found on your website. If this is not the case, you may unknowingly be sending mixed messages into the market that are diminishing your credibility. Every good, long-lasting customer relationship begins with trust. Trust builds customer loyalty but it is a two-way street.
During many years of consulting I have found that the degree of loyalty a company feels toward its customers is generally the degree of loyalty customers feel about them. The more you invest in your customers the more they will appreciate your efforts and the more loyalty they will show you over the years.