Hundreds of thousands of businesses in the United States pay lip service to customer service and building customer loyalty. In truth, very few businesses deliver at a high level. In a business climate where customers can choose to order now from their smartphone or walk into your store, how you build customer loyalty will be the foundational success for your business.
There are things a business can do to help make its odds of success increase dramatically; all it requires is just a little thinking and planning to make all the difference in the world. Here are ten things a business can do to increase its chance of success.
- Hire good people and train them well. Long term, there is no better investment a business can make than in hiring good people and training them well. This process is not based on finding the cheapest way to hire or train. It takes talent and effort to find the right people. Your employees are your business.
- Keep employees informed. Keeping employees in the dark and not updating them on situations, products, or changes is a fast way to lose customers. Communication is critical for building customer loyalty.
- Customer service is everyone’s job. Create a culture where everyone is responsible for customer service and its outcome. When everyone is part of the solution, amazing things can happen.
- Keep your promises. One of the best ways to win customer loyalty is by keeping your promises. Do what you say you will do. Following through wins customers.
- Learn your customer’s name and use it. The most important word in the English language is a person’s name. A business will win a customer’s loyalty by remembering his/her name and calling the customer by that name when he/she comes into the business. Look at credit cards and checks for a person’s name and use it.
- Protect your customer’s time. Who wants to stand in long lines or wait for someone to figure out how to operate a cash register? Show customers you value their time by making it quick and easy to pay out. Time has become a precious commodity; protect your customer’s time.
- Surprise, delight, and excite a customer. Almost everyone enjoys a pleasant or enjoyable surprise; something a little extra that is out of the ordinary. I recently stayed at a national-branded hotel and when I checked in, they upgraded my room for no additional charge – a pleasant surprise.
- Allow your people to solve problems. Building customer loyalty should not be micromanaged. Good employees will make the right decisions – give them the power to help you keep customers.
- Say thank you. These are two powerful words that we are losing today. Saying thank you to people, I hope, is not a dying art because it does make a difference. Saying “thank you for your business,” “thank you for shopping with us,” or “thank you for stopping by” makes a big difference in keeping customers.
- Ask your customers. Ask your customers, through surveys or random questions, about their experience. Find out what your customers are thinking and what they want to see in your store. You might be surprised by the insight.
These are ten simple things a business can do to build customer loyalty, but they are hard to execute. Be the business that truly makes a commitment to customer service.