The short answer is yes — of course it does. Customer loyalty is an asset every business should develop, whether they’re part of the Fortune 500 or based in a home office. Why? It’s simple; loyal customers do more that just supply repeat business — they also provide valuable word-of-mouth advertising.
Unfortunately, customer loyalty can be challenging to both build and measure. Factors such as pricing and convenience may be partly responsible for repeat sales, so it’s important to determine why your customers are coming back before you assume that they are truly loyal.
Ask & You Shall Receive
Post-sales feedback is a great way to ascertain why your customers stay — or why they leave. It can be done via email or telephone, but should always be brief and to the point. Ask questions like:
- Are you pleased with the service you received?
- What did you like most about working with us?
- What would you like to see improved?
Customer feedback points out what you’re doing right, and also provides ways for you to improve your products and services. It also shows your customers that you care what they have to say. If you go so far as to implement their suggestions, they may even develop a sense of ownership in your business and become more loyal to your company.
Turn Unhappy Customers into Loyal Ones
If your service falls short and a customer wants a refund or adjustment, act quickly to correct the problem. You need to do more than just apologize — actually resolve the problem in order to make a connection with your client.
If your customers have a difficult time finding a solution to their problem, they won’t be saying positive things about your business to their friends. However, if you view each customer complaint as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship, deliver cheerful and prompt resolutions, and show genuine concern, customers will come back time and again, regardless of their previous troubles.
Give a Little Thanks
There’s something inherently nice about a sincere thank you — and customers are rarely expecting it. Take a little time to send a handwritten thank you note to your customers to let them know that you genuinely appreciate their business. They’ll remember your thoughtfulness when recommending your business to others.
It’s also a good idea to reward customers who make referrals. Freebies, discounts, or small gifts will boost loyalty and encourage them to spread the word. Furthermore, you’ll have a convenient way to measure the effect of word-of-mouth advertising.
Keep In Touch
Follow-up requires a lot of effort, but it’s incredibly important to growing your business. There are many ways to follow-up with your customers, but here are three that are sure to make a positive impact:
- Remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions; offer up a gift or discount if you’re feeling especially generous. If you’re among the few who remember a customer’s special days, they’ll never forget you.
- If your customers are local, consider getting together over coffee or lunch. Ask about their family, hobbies, and other important aspects of their life. Take the time to get to know them in a non-sales environment.
- Check in on their well-being. If a customer mentions they’ve been ill, call or email periodically just to find out how they’re recovering. When you show customers that you really care about them on a personal level, they’re yours for life
The plain truth is that it takes far less time and money to sell to an existing customer than to a cold prospect. By listening to customer feedback, expressing gratitude when it’s due, and connecting on a personal level, you can build loyalty that not only keeps customers coming back, but also results in a steady stream of referrals.
Recommended Books on Customer Loyalty:
- Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It, How to Keep It
- Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless: How to Make Customers Love You, Keep Them Coming Back and Tell Everyone They Know
- Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving
- 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers, and Make a Lasting Impression
- The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty
- 12 Secrets to Getting Repeat Customers
- How to Foster Loyalty and Get Repeat Customers for Your Online Business
- 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete With the Big Boys
- How Great Managers Capture Profit Pools
- What Works on the Web? 12 Lessons From Successful Home-based Online Entrepreneurs