As I always say, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. And turning those customers or clients into raving fans that keep coming back is the key to having a successful business. So, in that spirit, the CarolRoth.com contributor network of entrepreneurs and experts have provided their best tips for creating customer loyalty in business. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar insights, but I kept the concepts separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Promptly Return Calls
When a customer or potential customer takes the time to contact your business via phone or email, a prompt response (at least within 24 hours if not sooner) immediately creates trust and loyalty. Even if the response is brief and notes that you are unable to respond in full until later, the customer will appreciate knowing that you have received their message and intend to give it attention.
2. Hit a Home Run
Too many people miss opportunities to hit home runs. After doing business with someone, following up every now and then with an actual thank you card and a box of chocolates in the mail is a massive home run. We're in the game of trust points and emotional impacts. Loyalty is bred from home run human connections. It's no secret that the humanization of business is happening right now. Anything human wins. Real, solid, meaningful heart to heart stuff will always be king.
3. Relationships Matter
Relationships are important in business and are one of the best forms to create customer loyalty. Non-promotional contact is helpful in remembering/recognizing clients. We send fun mail outs- hand written cards with a coffee card to "take a break on us", a book they might enjoy, or a hand written note keeping in touch. We offer a complimentary follow up program to help clients maintain success after our training event. Building a relationship is the first step; maintaining it helps create loyalty.
4. There is No YOU in Customer
Understand that what you sell or provide is not what is important to your Prospect or Customer/Client. What IS important to them is what you can do for them. What problem can you solve? What need can you meet? What pain can you alleviate? What cost can you reduce? This is advice I give small business owners in all my workshops and both my books and they thank me later for changing their viewpoint.
5. Speak Their Language
When you dig deeper into who your clients are, you'll get vital insights into their unique language. This is huge. Certain words make your clients light up and others fall flat. Talk to leaders about order, strategies, and productivity. Teachers speak of training, courses, and methods of study. Most entrepreneurs speak their own language. If this matches their clients' terminology, everything flows, but if the clients have a different mental framework, then a disconnect will hold you back.
6. Superhero for Hire
I create customer loyalty by being a superhero. Many small business owners try doing it themselves to save costs and find themselves in trouble. That's when I fly in like Superman and save them... for free. "No need to thank me, ma'am/sir." It usually only takes a few minutes to fix the error, and I've shown them by example, not by selling, the true value of hiring a professional. Yes, many times I never hear from them again, but when I do, they are a customer for life.
7. Become a Clipping Service
Go out of your way to do more than you need to do.
Do small things that will stick in your customers' minds. I find that links to articles of interest to my clients work very well. Most of my clients are too busy to spend a lot of time on the internet. I always pass along links to articles or books that may interest them. This positions me as someone who is in the know.
This isn't hard to do -- just keep your best customers in mind as you surf the net or read business publications.
8. Fail Them!
Okay, don't go out & fail your customers intentionally, but according to a study conducted by customer experience company AboutFace, there is a brief window of opportunity following a service failure where clients can recover their trust and actually leap from a state of disappointment to a state of loyalty. Take that feedback and use it as an opportunity to improve your service offerings, showcase your ability to listen to your clients & potentially turn a disgruntled client into a loyal one.
9. Listen Up, Fool
Listen. Listen to your customers.
Don't make this more complicated than it needs to be. In an age of social engagement, all you need is a Twitter account, a Facebook page, or a LinkedIn group- and an exec that cares enough to check in for a minute every day to find out what people are saying.
10. Nourish Your Peeps
If you want to build a fan base of peeps that will follow you everywhere, the key is empathy. Like everyone else, your customers want to be understood and know that your service or product meets their needs. So, take the time to get to know the problems your customers are trying to solve and make sure your marketing approach and in-person interactions speak to those. Once your peeps know that you really 'get' them, they will be there for you and spread the word far and wide! Luv those peeps!
11. Make it Hard for Them to Go!
My one best tip for "Creating Customer Loyalty In Business" is build a genuine relationship with them that will make it difficult for them to desire to go anywhere else for business. By showing the customer that they come first, are sincerely valued and that they are being given loyalty, it should warrant a mutual response. In my humble opinion, in a world where business is not always based on genuinely caring and integrity, I believe that these qualities will separate one from all of the rest.
12. Build a Brand Legend
To turn a customer into a brand evangelist, you must change how you think. Sales are the result of how people perceive you, gained through marketing & experience. The story you tell must match the experience people have with your firm. Everything you do must contribute to building a personality that customers can rely on to be consistent & ethical in attitude, offering & execution. It’s about building a legend, an iconic brand that explains who you are, what you do, & why anyone should care.
13. Give Them More Than Expected
Deliver beyond that job quote and make fans for life! Free advice and helpful tips are one way to do this. As a copywriter who helps businesses market themselves, I often guide clients to publicity opportunities I hear about, which lets them know that I am thinking of them; offer a free service that is part of your contract as an unexpected gift (don't charge for something they have contracted for); and refer them as often as possible to others in your network when appropriate.
14. Give More, Charge Less
If you want your clients to come back again and again, do one simple thing; give your clients more than they expect at a fee that is less than they expect. How do you do that? Take fewer assignments, complete them more thoroughly and quickly than the competition, and stay in very close contact with your client during an assignment by telling the client what you are doing, what progress you are making, and what "G-2" you are picking up in the assignment that would be useful to the client.
15. Takes One to Know One
A customer's loyalty to your company, as well as your products or services, is directly proportional to the loyalty you show them. The avenue called business is a two-way street. Show your customer that you care about them personally and that you offer quality at a fair price; that is the foundation for a lasting relationship. Take the time to understand the customer. What sets them apart? What do they value? Why should they turn to you? If you can answer these questions, you become a hero!
16. Under Promise, Over Deliver
People like to promise the world and then often have trouble meeting their commitments. Only promise what you know you can deliver. There will be times life gets in your way. Personal, family, work, or tech issues will all trip you up. You need to make sure you can deliver even when life interferes. Then, when life is not tripping you up, you will be able to deliver more than what you promised. When you over deliver, you will WOW your client. They will feel they are getting more bang for their buck.
17. Make and Keep Great Promises
Customers and clients love big bold promises that make their lives better and keep their costs down. Don't be shy about upping your promise-making. Just do two things: 1) be sure that the promises you make are relevant to your customers and 2) be sure to keep them--down to the last details. Kept promises become your word of mouth and your brand. Make great promises and then make your business best at what your customers want most.
18. Only Ever Be Awesome!
How can your customers not love you if you're always awesome? Normal or average will not increase loyalty or create fanatics. Consider this, the word "ordinary" = the Greek or Latin word "idiota" which means ordinary or layman and is also the origin for idiot.
Just ask yourself before you deliver, "Is this awesome?" Your customers will take care of the rest.
19. valUed cUstomer Service
Customer service with a Capital "U" is important in our sleepwear on-line store. We correspond with our customers, we deliver on time, we stand behind our products, we wrap our products like a gift, and we do everything that can make our customers feel like they have had an excellent buying experience.
Our goal is for our customers to tell their friends and family about our great and helpful garments and what a pleasure it was doing business with us!
20. Make it PERSONAL!
Put that special touch on at the end of your business activities. Recognize businesses and their personnel by name, allow them to be the first to take advantage of special offerings and discounts, recognize them for contributing to your businesses' success and check to see if they are pleased with the services/products you offer.
21. Caring is the Secret
When it comes to building loyalty and converting clients into raving fans that sing your praises far and wide, nothing is more powerful than consistently demonstrating that you care.
Care about the outcomes your clients have received from their purchase.
Care about the ongoing success your clients gain and offer to help them gain more every step of the way.
Care about special times in clients' lives. Show your appreciation in thoughtful, tangible ways.
Caring has power. Use it wisely.
22. Go Above and Beyond
Go above and beyond of what is expected of you. The extra effort will pay off in the long run by not only keeping the clients you have, but in the referrals they give you.
Most of my business was built on referrals. I very rarely go looking for new clients or consulting jobs. People always find me through word of mouth and my "raving fans".
What I do is no different than any other PR agency out there, except that I give clients the extra attention they need and deserve.
23. Make Them Feel Special
For my really good customers, I issue a special discount voucher using their name as the redemption code. I also let them know that the code is exclusively for them, but they could reward deserving friends or family with their code.
24. It's the Little Things...
Everyone loves to be remembered and everyone loves a surprise gift.
I make a point to watch for items of interest specific to my clients' lives, and then I let them know what I run across.
I have an exotic "grab bag" for in-person consultations. These items are always well chosen and of great quality.
People remember kindnesses - and gifts - and they remember positive experiences. Everyone walks away from me with a jaunt in their step that wasn't there before. I enjoy the view!
25. Don't Get Careless
Treat your customer at all times as if it is your first contact with them, while at the same time welcoming them "back into the fold".
Selwyn D. Goodwin of Selwyn
26. Customers are People Too!
Show that you care more than your competition. Repeats spend 33% more than new ones. They leave because they took a competitor’s “better” offer, which says “We Care”, or they felt like a number. Show appreciation from a Thank You as they leave, to coupons, bonuses and outright gifts. Share knowledge freely (to a point, if that’s your biz). Surprise me! A hand written card is huge, so long as it’s authentic. If you use a call center, empower your reps to solve the problem on the first call!
27. Pro-active Customer Service
If there is an issue with a customer order, be pro-active and reach out to them before they reach out to you. And, pro-actively communicate with them about the status once you have spoken with them or corresponded with them. Having an attitude that you care is refreshing to customers who live in an age of automated computer phone menus, outsourced call centers without the authority to solve many problems, and customer service reps that often don't seem to care.
28. The Domino's Effect
One of the best ways I have found in creating loyal customers is to be loyal to them. When Domino's said they would deliver in 30 minutes or less or you got your money back years ago, they did everything they could to deliver on their promise. It should be the same in our businesses. Do what you say you're going to do, do more than your customers expect and if they are dissatisfied, rectify the situation and accept responsibility. Then, do like Domino's again- ask if they are happy and repeat.
29. Don't Lag with Lagniappes
A lagniappe is an unexpected gift. Giving them to your customers for no reason at all can turn fans into fanatics, as far as loyalty is concerned. To illustrate: my business involves training. So, on occasion, I will offer a half-day session at no charge to an existing client. The upside, of course, is that if they like the freebie, they are likely to order the full-day course and pay the usual price.
Marlene Caroselli of CPD
30. The Secret to Customer Loyalty
The number 1 secret to gaining customer loyalty is to stay in contact with customers once a month. This can be done by email, a friendly card in the mail, a phone call, a gift, etc. People are loyal to businesses they like and feel that the business cares about them. The best way to show that you care for your customers is to stay in touch with them on a frequent basis and let them know that you care about them and appreciate them. Do this and your customer loyalty will skyrocket.
31. Be the Best at What You Do
Creating customer loyalty boils down to two things. First, give them a level of personalized human contact customer service that is unbeatable. But, just as important is offering a product or service that is uniquely different from everyone else. Even if it costs more, it will be fine. What bottom line keeps people coming back is that your product or service cannot be equaled by your competitors. As the saying goes, "build a better mousetrap and the world will come beating to your door!"
Clear, factual & prompt communication establishes the foundation for a relationship of trust & value. Each customer interaction should focus on the customer & their needs. Listening is often the most important part of communication, and in the case of customer relationships, it conveys interest & concern for the needs of your customer. Customer communication can require patience on the part of your representative. With this in mind, select your customer service personnel with care.
33. Make an Impact That Matters
In today's recovering economy, organizations are mainly focused on key business issues such as profitability, productivity, efficiency and competitiveness. The best way to keep clients coming back for more is to demonstrate that your product or service had a significant, positive impact on one of these areas. Use statistics and metrics to demonstrate your value and prove that your client's bottom line is better off because of your business relationship.
34. Under-promise and Over-deliver
For those providing services, "serve" and serve well, delivering what was promised and more, by extending your alacrity to clients. Loyal clients are the lifeblood of service businesses and connecting with/to them in a personal way enhances loyalty. We work as least as much from person-to-person as we do in business to business.
For those providing products, the same rules apply: keeping promises and delivering quality builds trust and is paramount to building loyalty by virtue of trust!
35. How to Attract Loyalty
Only offer products, services, books, advice or whatever that really makes life better.
36. But I Have Promises to Keep...
Clients become raving fans when they know they can count on you, and they learn to count on you through your CONSISTENCY. Consistency is crucial. It means always putting out your best product, whether you write articles or create websites. It means keeping your commitments, staying on schedule and within budget for every project - and never missing a deadline. It means communication and service that they can rely on. Consistency is the key to success.
37. Lemons to Lemonade
"Oops" happens. When it does, your employees will reveal your primary focus.
If "Profits First" is the company culture, they will make excuses, blame the customer, and delay resolution until they have your permission to fix things, making your competition look good.
If they KNOW that customers are the first priority, then the decisions they make when the chips are down will win loyalty in a way that may never have happened if the experience were without flaw.
38. Learn Your Client's "Likes"
Take time to learn your client's "likes" and that client will keep coming back. Good personal customer service means taking the time to speak with your clients to understand their needs. Call when a new item is available. Adjust hours that work best for them. We know when the last time the client made a purchase was, to remind them that it is a good time to make a new purchase. The personal touch results in repeat visits and additional sales.
39. Know Their News
Set-up Google alerts for your top clients and prospects, so you are certain to stay abreast of the latest happenings in their businesses & in their lives. It's a great way to learn about promotions, awards, mergers, etc. But, it shouldn't stop with finding out the info. Use this information to send congratulatory notes (hand-written ones work best) or small gifts, as appropriate. Clients & prospects love it...plus, it's a lot of fun and helps solidify the relationship.
40. Loving Your Customers
The best way to keep your customers is to do what you say and a little bit more. Think of how many times you have been disappointed this past week and you'll understand what I am saying. Be on time, ask the right questions, compliment your customer, and think about how you could do it 1% better the next time.
41. Stay True to Your Word
My 'service motto' is under-promise, over-deliver - but to add to this, I would say remain true to your word. I have made the mistake of under quoting on projects - but I do not make the customer pay for that; it's a learning experience for me and building trust based on integrity that matters. Do what you say you will and customers not only stay, but provide word of mouth sales for you too!
42. Increase the Customers Revenue
Make your clients some money. For my clients who own a business, I find them new customers or new suppliers - and help them increase their revenue or bottom line. If you have retail customers who buy large ticket items, but they don't own a business, then help them raise funds for a charity they support. Or send out a press release on their charity's behalf. Clients & customers become extremely loyal when you increase their cash flow.
43. Engage Customer Loyalty!
Develop amazing loyalty with an informal Customer Advisory Board and host periodic events serving simple food/beverage. Invite all of your customers or a random sampling. Use both pre-written questions and directed discussions to gather their input (divide into small groups if needed) about your service, products, what they like, what they would like to see you offer, test the waters for any new ideas you have, etc. Reward attendees with a discount or freebie and make the event fun and casual!
44. Loyalty Needs TLC to Flourish
The cornerstone of customer loyalty is caring. Caring means how you treat a customer. If all you do is respond to their inquiries or complaints, you will not build loyalty. You must actively demonstrate you care about them and want them to be pleased. The best way to demonstrate that you care is to exceed their expectations and to proactively stay in touch. Don't just meet their expectations. Stay in touch with e-mails, birthday cards, and occasionally stopping in.
45. Make a Connection
1. At 1st meeting, I try to size up the preferences of my guests, remembering their name (first & last & spouse if applicable),
2. Listen to them and take notes on what we discuss, so that I can show my genuine interest in them later by mentioning or questioning them regarding our past discussions,
3. Keep my customer data base handy, so if a past guest calls, I can pull up their info and recall them and their details. We all like being remembered. It's the same process we follow when making new friends.
46. The Golden Rule!
As my Mother always said, "Treat others as you would expect them to treat you". I always listened to my Mom and learned early on that customer loyalty comes from the customer feeling that their business is important. There are no big customers or small customers, rich customers or poor customers -- there are only customers whom have entrusted me with their business and taken a leap of faith that I will work as hard as I can to make sure they succeed.
47. Hand 'Em an Oar
As a bootstrapped, organically grown start-up creating mobile apps for small businesses and mobile lifestyle guides for communities, I've learned that the best way to retain customers is to invite them in the boat with you and hand them an oar. And then, make sure that they know how grateful we are. Our clients have all forgiven the occasional error or some functions not being available yet, because we've built a relationship, one client, one city at a time.
48. It's About the Client, Stupid
I once had two salesmen call on me; they were competitors. The first one asked me out to dinner, promising to show me a really good time (ewww). The other one called before he came from a coffee shop and asked me what kind of bagel I liked and how I preferred my coffee. The second one got the job. His product was great, so I used his firm repeatedly. This guy sent me flowers for my Birthday. He made me feel like an individual, not a sale. You are selling to people, not to companies.
49. Keep in Touch
Satisfied customers are easily swayed away by referrals, geography, and coupons. In order to create loyal fans, you don't have to be the best, you have to be the the brand that your customer is thinking about when they are ready to buy. Staying in touch keeps your customers thinking about you. Stay top-of-mind by contacting them with invitations, interests, & introductions - rather than sales pitches. Send hand-written note cards in the mail, because they will be shared, displayed and saved.
50. Listen Effectively
When it comes to customer loyalty, combine effective communication with customers and effective listening with professional networks and outside vendors. Solicit feedback to positively move forward in business. Stay open-minded to service existing and new customer needs. For example, a number of clients requested bedding to help with a bad back. I listened and created a package especially for them. By servicing one client's needs, you can recognize that others often have similar needs.
51. Feed Them!
We have a parent who has come to our school for years and never said a word to me or his child's instructors. Three years ago, we began Student Appreciation Day with live music, a clown, games, giveaways, prizes and FOOD! I gave him and his family a hot dog lunch and he hasn't stopped talking to any of us since. At least once a year, give the people who support your business a meal and a good time as a way of thanking them for being a part of your business. It's fun, it feels right and it works.
52. Loyalty Starts with YOU
Loyalty starts with you. By this, I mean stay true to your organization's voice in all that you do and make sure that all customer interactions are true to your brand. Customers are loyal to people and products they trust more than corporations. Show your customers that "you" care and interact with them in a way that is true to your organization's culture. We make sure that our voice carries into every interaction.
53. Let Them Eat Cake!
If you handle clients with this attitude, you can count on them running to someone else! Sure, dealing with clients can be demanding and if you can sneak in a few extra bucks or skimp on a production, it seems like this "extra" covers working for the "pain in the butt". But sooner or later, the client will pick up on this attitude and be out the door! I always give "PITA" clients more than they expect - and they come back wanting more. And they become easier to work with too!
54. Make Them Look Good!
To me, building raving fans in business is all about doing what you promise and making your clients look good within their companies and to their clients each and every time you interact with them. By making sure I understand what their objectives are and what the end goals need to be, I can manage the project accordingly. So, when the project arrives on time, on budget & exceeds the goals of the organization, your customer looks good and I can almost guarantee they will become a raving fan!
55. Client Loyalty in Business
Maintain your integrity... Keep your word and walk the talk!
56. Earn Trust
Earn trust. Customer loyalty is built upon trust. Your customer must feel that you delivered a product or service with their best interest first, your sale second. Next, you must demonstrate that you truly care by checking in as to how they are enjoying what you sold and if they care to share feedback. Should a problem arise, be swift to correct it. All of the client needs, wants and deep down desires come first. Plus, your attention to details will build great word of mouth and client loyalty.
57. Loyalty is the Key to Success
To have loyal and raving fans, a business must treat their customers as number one. They should also respect their customers' time for appointments, which means little to no waiting time for anything, unless you are very explicit upfront on this issue. If you make a customer feel that they are important to the success of your business, they will usually share this information with others, either in person or on Social Media. Respect is the key to having those raving fans that always come back.
58. Creating Customer Loyalty
Be yourself & be entertaining. Use personality in your marketing & be outrageous. If that means dressing as George Washington for a GW Day Sale, do it. Your competitors never will, but your customers will be entertained and appreciate it.
Also, don't worry about turning some people off. You can't, nor should you try to be all things to all people. If you aren't repelling some people, you're not being outrageous enough! Have fun and show your customers that it's fun to do business with you!
59. Fill Their Needs, Not Yours!
Let the client tell you what he needs and then, fill that need. I once interviewed twenty restaurants and caterers, clients of my PR client, a wholesale bread bakery, on how they liked working with this bakery. Every one said they would use no one else because not only did they like the owner and staff personally, but the products were also top quality and delicious, no order was too large, too small or too difficult, and the bakery even delivered seven days a week.
60. Customer Loyalty for Life
Communication is more important than anything. Our clients get weekly updates that tell them about our extensive work completed on their behalf. Within a month, our clients feel special and see firsthand how much we do for them. Within three months, they know of no other company that does as much work for them. Your customer should feel like they are the only customer. They don't want to know about anyone else. Each Monday morning they are reminded of how special they are and never forget it!
61. Money Talks...
As a realtor, my best business comes from customer referrals. What has worked for me is the lure of gifts. For the first referral, I give a lovely picture book of Vancouver, signed by the author. For the next referral, it's a gift card to a favorite restaurant. From then on, the money flows-I send them checks. One client is on his 4th referral to me in less than a year, so yes, money talks.
62. Build Trust and Confidence
As it pertains to creating raving fans, there may be sexier pieces of advice but none as important. Without trust in a person/organization and confidence in their products/services, little else matters... Anything that can be done to build trust and confidence also creates lasting customer loyalty. Whether it's a little thing like returning a phone call or email promptly or a big thing like making your client look brilliant, you're always either building trust and confidence - or losing it.
63. Secret Social Media Trick
I love to give my high end clients and favorite customers a shout out on Facebook. They love the recognition and always reciprocate. I have gotten several referrals this way.
64. Get Results!
In order for your clients to become raving fans, give them what they want/need. Get results for them and they will refer. Don't be arrogant enough to believe that you deserve a referral. Be humble enough to put your client first before your needs. Walk your Talk! Apologize for any slippage in customer service and let that apology come from you - not someone on your staff. Be approachable! Connect! It's amazing what happens with client loyalty when you listen to the needs/wants of your clients.
65. Solve Their Problem!
Always remember, your clients don't want to buy your product, they want you to solve their own problem. If you can be the person who listens, understands, re-frames and solves their problem for them, they will come back. If your product doesn't solve their problem, don't keep pushing; rather, recommend another solution. That's the final test that shows them that when they come to you, they won't get any product shoved down their throat and you really just want to help them solve their problem.
Eva Schiffer of Net-Map
66. Honor Your Commitments
I always keep my word and do what I say I'll do.
67. Under Promise - Over Deliver
Never promise more than you absolutely know you can deliver, and then do your utmost to deliver more than you promised. Nothing in my experience has gotten more customer loyalty than customers getting more than they were promised.
68. Remember Me, PLEASE!
The power of a phone call: A recent phone call I made brought a client to say "Wow, I can't believe you called (said 3 times!). People don't call any more just to talk, this is great, I rate a phone call." The power of a gift: A business gift, like a funny pen or note paper, purchased from the clearance area of a big box office supply store rates smiles, showing off, and may bring you a photo of clients that says "world's #1 Coach". Loyalty doesn't cost a lot. It's in the niceness of life.
Loyal customers become fans when you wooo them with authentic service. Treat each interaction with your customers like a first date. Impress, engage and electrify them. Keep the relationship new with special offers, thank you's and discounts. Don't tell them they're special, show them they're special. ALL THE TIME!!!!
70. Go the Extra Mile
Always try and exceed your customer's expectations. If they can leave your site feeling that they have truly gained something from visiting or purchasing from you, they simply won't be able to resist the temptation to return.
71. Keep 'Em Interested!
We need to keep our product in the public eye and using Facebook has been a good tool to help us do that. One of the ways we use our FB group is to have contests where the prize is a copy of our book and/or swag with our logo. Make each member who contributes feel special by sending them free gifts such as bumper stickers. It's a small price and creates fan loyalty that has tremendous ripple effects. And remember, give your customers the personal attention they deserve!
72. Be All That You Can Be
There are a lot of gimmicks for bringing customers back—and I won't say that I haven't tried some of them! But the bottom line is this: deliver what you say you will deliver when you say you will deliver it, follow up, and ask for input... these are business basics that are still the best way to instill customer loyalty. Be all that you can be in your business and they'll recognize it. It really is that simple.
73. Wow Them on Two Fronts
Build loyalty? That's easy: Wow them on two fronts. If you provide either a product or service that does more and costs less than the customer had hoped--AND provide a customer experience that exceeds expectations, you've just created a fan.
74. Trust Years to Earn
It's amazing how most everything has become so non-personal. How do you develop trust in this digital age? Many seem to follow the advice of giving something away for free, which makes you an "expert" or "authority". Customer loyalty will always be grounded in delivering a solution to a very specific customer challenge. This can be done by listening!
75. Write it Out!
My number 1 tip to create customer loyalty is to send hand written "Thank You" cards after large orders or important meetings.
76. Repeat Customers Key 2 Success
The great wealth of America has been built on the strong lifetime value of customer bases. Business is based on repeat usage. Only in the last few years have CEOs really come to grips with lifetime value metrics and an understanding that not all customers are created equal. This is still a huge challenge for large retailers and mass marketers. Understand your customer base/demographics and create programs that target those unique audiences, such as private sales and special events to unique groups.
77. Get Them to Tell Stories
Satisfying a customer isn't enough; you need to delight them as often as you can--to do something that gets them telling stories about you. You can sell a beautiful gown and they'll be happy, but if you call to see how the event went, they'll talk about you. You can have your clients sign perfectly prepared papers and they'll be satisfied, but if you bring a coloring book and crayons for Tommy to "sign" while they're signing, they'll talk about you. Don't just satisfy them--delight them.
78. Send a Thank You Note
Saying thank you to your customers goes a long way in building customer loyalty. Saying it is nice, sending a personal thank you note is even better. It means a lot to people in this age of emails and social media to get a piece of mail with a stamp on it saying I appreciate your business. Go that extra mile and send a personal handwritten thank you note.
79. Acknowledge Achievements
I like the printed and mailed newsletter featuring several customers and milestones in their personal lives, such as a new house, a baby in the family, a graduation, a military rank advancement, a grandchild's sports or academic achievement, etc. People like to read about themselves and their families, and they will share your newsletter with many others. Acknowledging other business owners and giving them a good plug is also valuable. If it fits your demographics, I recommend newsletters.
80. Show Some Appreciation
A customer appreciation program is the most unique way to keep customers loyal and create a strong word of mouth buzz at the same time.
Send clients a personalized chocolate bar, wrapped in branded gift wrap and ship it to them in a box with a customized thank you note card inside.
A little appreciation can go such a long way. Not only will you retain the customers that you send your appreciation package to, but you will most likely gain new ones from simple word of mouth.
81. Breaking Up is Not an Option!
The best ways to create customer loyalty:
1. RESPECT: Acknowledge your respect for the client's needs and the efforts they put into the work they are doing.
2. LISTEN, OBSERVE: Ask open-ended questions and then stop, watch and listen to the client's responses. Reflect back to them what you think you heard them say.
3. VALUE: Offer discounts for pre-paid services and referral incentives.
82. A Customer is Family
The best way to keep our customers coming back is outstanding customer service. We involve our customers in every step of the buying process, ensuring it is their decision and not our push that gives them the opportunity to buy our products. We treat each client as a family member and familiarize ourselves with every aspect of their business needs, in order to give them the best possible solution. It isn't about turning a dollar today; it's about keeping a customer for life.
83. Earn it!
Loyalty is earned. Here are 5 simple steps:
1) Ask - Probe for questions before the sale; meet the real need!
2) Follow Through - Build trust by over-delivering...on time!
3) Follow Up - Check back after the sale. Get feedback on your performance!
4) Build Relationships - Use newsletters, blogs, workshops, and even simple things like birthday cards to establish you firmly in hearts and minds!
5) Provide more excellent service than anyone else!
EARN loyalty and become the "Go-To" choice!
84. Owner Escort
Have the owner or manager offer a tour of their restaurant or shop and always bring their purchases to their car.
85. Keep on Selling…
If you fail to continue to SELL to your customers, they'll fail to continue to BE your customers. The best way to make yourself invaluable to customers is to keep selling to them. Of course, it must be in their own best interest, but odds are you need to make more offers to them, not less. You should be looking to solve customers' problems consistently. Only when you're regularly helping them will they truly value their relationship with you. The more you sell, the happier they'll be with you.
86. Feel Their Pain
When customers complain, feel their pain. Ask for more information and let them vent. Then turn their pain into pleasure. Become the hero who solves problems and you create extreme loyalty. Customers will sing your praises and send you referral business. Don't make customers jump through hoops to get problems managed. Reform your system so that issues get resolved with ease. Be passionate about getting problems handled in the most painless way possible, even if it means managing it yourself.
87. Celebrate & Stay in Touch
The best way I've found to create customer loyalty is to acknowledge and celebrate your customer personally. As a professional organizer and coach, I send personal greeting cards to my organizing clients to say "good job", "thanks" or "hi". I include before/after pix of client space for space organizing clients and send gift cards as a way of saying thanks for referrals. Clients love a real card in the mail. As a distributor, it's a biz write-off.
88. Personality Perks Perhaps?
The key to happy customers that keep coming back (and sending you all their friends) lies within their personality type! If you can quickly read their personality, you will know exactly what they need from you to both create a great first impression and keep them loyal! For example, those "Dominant" types want you to be brief, be brilliant, and be gone!
89. Facilitate Problem Solving
Your customers come to you because you or your products solve some type of problem or create an opportunity. Take it one step further; don't stop at just your product as a solution. Become a master at facilitating questions and conversations. Get others to think by asking them action oriented thinking questions: "How might you approach a problem such as this?" "How might you go about changing that?"
By working with customers in this way you do something no one else does! Priceless Value!
90. Wish 'Em Happy Birthday!
One great way to increase or retain customer loyalty is finding a mechanism to collect your customers' birthdays and then send an actual greeting card via snail mail. If your budget allows, you can also send them some other trinket such as a cap, pen or mouse-pad with your company's name and logo inscribed on the trinket (of course). Most people are happy to share their actual birth month and day, though some will frown from revealing their birth year.
91. Keeping Customers Loyal
Customer service starts with positive employer/employee relations, but it doesn't necessarily end there. Provide quality service by going above and beyond what is expected. Example: the produce clerk who checks the shipment in the back to obtain the freshest product for the customer. Even so, mistakes sometimes happen, so create customer loyalty by apologizing and do service recovery by giving the individual something of value for the inconvenience.
92. Empathy = Loyalty
Caring about your clients/customers is the way to go.
I work with a lot of small businesses. In order to build customer loyalty within my own firm, we not only work very hard to help them grow their business through marketing, but also we actually refer business to them personally.
This produces intense loyalty because our clients know that we really do care about the growth of their business and we're willing to refer our own friends/family/network to them.
93. When in Doubt, Offer Value
Start off with a great service and be willing to walk a few extra miles. Devise special offers just for clients. With the next invoice, send along a special discount voucher. Take a look at what your competitors are doing to please clients and do more. Offer an incentive for making customer referrals if they are pleased with your service. This is easy to do today with tools like Referral Key where you can establish a dollar amount.
94. Give 'Em What They Want
Honesty. Real, true honesty. I can't stress that enough. With everything that has happened as a result of the economic meltdown, consumers have lost their faith and trust in the business world. Show your customers that they can actually trust you. Be transparent. Be ethical. Be exactly what it is they think the world is lacking.
95. Be Sure to Pardon the Turkey
We have a longstanding tradition of "pardoning the turkey." On every major holiday, we go out of our way to help customers because we know that it's an easy way to achieve instant delight. Leave the Thanksgiving football game for 5 minutes, answer a customer question, and enjoy the raving fandom for the next 10 years. It also puts a big smile on your face for the rest of the holiday celebration!
96. Always Tell the Truth!!!
Keeping Customer Loyalty is a fine line in Business. It always has been. Nowadays, it's even more important. There are so many lies about everything going around the planet. Do not be one who is in that group.
Customers can tell when someone is lying. Most of the time, they will let you know and they will tell everyone. Keeping your customers and getting referrals is the key to a great business.
Mark Twain said, "When you tell the truth, you do not have anything to remember."
97. Give More Than They Expect
My one tip is to over-service your clients from time to time. You can't do this all of the time or you set an expectation of giving away freebies and there is no added-value.
But at least once every 12 months, I give my clients something extra; I'm not talking gifts here, I'm talking about giving some of my valuable services to them at no charge.
However, I also set the tone by sending them a $0 invoice which shows the value of what they received. This way they can appreciate my service.
98. Dazzle Your Customer
Dazzle your customer with "blow them away" service. I called the AC repair service at 9:30 p.m. The repairman came at midnight and climbed into our attic. He did not charge me after I had been told by recording twice to be ready to pay. "The guy who services your unit on a routine schedule should have caught this." The next day, they repaired and painted the entire family room and kitchen ceilings. There were no charges. Talk about great customer service.
Mitch Carnell of SPWC
99. Thirsty Beer Drinkers Buy Beer
Segment your market. Aim for a narrower range of customers. LexisNexis = law books, Divorce Store = discount divorces, T.J.Maxx = designer bargains. Already have a large customer base? Get them to self-declare their passions in a survey (with a valuable prize). Feed the hunger they already have. Green customers? Plant a tree for each purchase or donate 5% of that customer's sales to Greenpeace. Political activists? Donate to a PAC. New parents? Offer biodegradable diapers. Pocket the profits!
100. Honesty is the Best Policy
Be honest through both the good and the bad -- and make sure that you under-promise, over-deliver and establish a real relationship with your clients.
101. Send a Newsletter!
Hands down the best way to build client loyalty is by getting your clients to know, like and trust you more. The most effective way to do that is through a PRINTED (not emailed) newsletter mailed to them each month. Among other things, your newsletter should contain these two very critical elements— a story from you that allows them to get to know you better and a bit (not a lot) of helpful advice to prove your expert status. Beyond those elements, it should be fun and light reading.
102. Treat 'Em Like Your Grandma!
If we treated all of our customers the way we would want our eighty-six year old Grandma to be treated, our customers would love us.
Be a good listener.
Go above and beyond.
103. Be a Rockstar
Looking for loyal fans to fawn over your business? Become a rockstar--of service, that is. The Joe may taste about the same in two shops, but if one has a friendly barista who starts my day with cheery conversation, I'll be back for a refill. And the dry cleaner that hems a cocktail dress in just one day instead of a week-- and then asks how the party was-- has won my heart. Unexpectedly delighting your customers starts with the little things you didn't have to do. Rock on!
104. Leave Them Laughing
If they always have a good time being with you (it's not about being business all the time), on a real life person to person basis, so that they relate to you as no different than they are, with all of the same kinds of things that we all go through, you will develop a kinship. They will WANT to spend time with you and coming back to you all the time to do business will be their excuse to do so.
Get them to know you as a person and you to know them as a person - you will bond.
105. Be Helpful, Smile, Say Thanks!
When I am doing a delivery for a client, I try to follow their directions exactly, to unload the item, and place it exactly where they want it.
I remember to smile and to compliment them on their new house, their back yard or the view that they have!
And I always tell them how much I appreciate their business! They really do tell their friends, because I get calls beginning, "so-and-so told me about you."
106. Creating by Connecting
Act as an honest broker between clients wanting to sell out of need and those wanting to buy real bargains. In these tough economic times, cash flow can be a problem and having cash can present great opportunities. Your clients will appreciate your help on both ends. We have done this for years for clients. We act with honesty and confidentiality. While we never charge our clients, we have built loyal customers and gained new ones.
107. Be Helpful
Go out of your way to start conversations with potential customers. Answering comments and emails goes without saying. But seek out conversations through social media and Q&A sites. Be helpful in answering peoples' questions and solving their problems.
108. Listen! Reward!
Make sure you listen to your customer often & act on it as much as possible; more importantly, tell them about the changes & improvements you made based on their complaints & compliments. Also, when you see a repeat customer, do acknowledge and reward that repeat business to turn them into raving loyals.
109. Power Up!
The Conference Board says 55% of Americans hate their jobs. 8 of 10 customers stop buying at a company because of rude, discourteous employees. Engage employees and increase customer loyalty through daily 15 minute Power Huddles. Praise, award, train, encourage and share. Have fun, be creative and enthusiastic. Employees will fire up and serve customers better. Research shows that a 5 point improvement in employee attitude leads to 1.3% gains in customer loyalty and a .5% lift in sales growth.
Do you know another tip that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!