Some Points on Developing Customer Loyalty
The August issue of the Quill has several articles on the need and reason for developing customer loyalty. Now let’s begin to look at some of the concepts involved in the customer loyalty development process.
A point of connection is every time a customer or potential comes in contact with you, your employees or your firm. It may be personal, as is the case with employees; or it may be physical, like the appearance of your building. To develop loyal customers, every point of connection must provide a positive emotional experience. Let’s look at two examples of these emotional experiences
Automotive Repair and Customer Loyalty
An acquaintance of mine owns a used car and repair shop in a nearby town. Looking at the business from the road, you see a scattering of used automobiles arranged haphazardly on an uneven grassy lot. The repair shop itself is located at the back of the lot in a building which appears to be an old barn. What kind of emotion does the physical appearance of this business have on the trustworthiness of the cars they sell and the quality of the repair work they do? Years ago, when smoking was allowed on airlines, it was asked that if the ashtrays were dirty, could you trust the engine maintenance?
Recently, we needed some work done our very reliable car. We returned to the dealer from whom we had purchased the vehicle and asked that they investigate the problem. After several hours sitting in a soft seat in a clean and air-conditioned waiting room, the service manger returned with his findings and an estimate to repair. In order for me to understand the issue, he asked me to follow him out into the shop where the car was on a lift. The repair shop was perfectly clean, the state-of the art equipment was impressive and the technicians all wore clean uniforms. Even though it was not inexpensive to repair the car, being in the environment of that shop left me with the trust needed to make me loyal to that dealership. They did a great job the first time.
The Supermarket and Customer Loyalty
Checkout in a supermarket can provide a wide a range of emotional experiences. In some stores the checkout clerk never looks up or makes eye contact. They perform the mechanical task of scanning the items, telling you the total, and taking your money. Seemingly their interest is somewhere else. No customer loyalty is being developed here.
My favorite supermarket provides a very different experience. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want their name. They greet you as it’s your turn in line. They ask for your buyer’s card and may call you by name after that. They may ask you if you found everything you wanted or carry on a light conversation. They may even ask if you would like to have them help with the groceries to the car. The other day I was in line and the man ahead of me left his credit card on the counter. The customer was already out the door and into the parking lot when the clerk saw it. The clerk reacted quickly by picking the card and chased the customer into the parking lot returning later, his mission accomplished.
These are just two examples of how a firm or organization can develop loyal customers, clients, patients or members. We often hear about customer service projects where front-line employees are trained to be helpful and friendly with customers. But these two examples show that training front-line employees is not enough. Would that dealer repair shop lead you to a trusting relationship if only the service manager was trained? Would that sales clerk have been trained to rush out the door to help a customer? Not really! Customer loyalty is the product of total planning, not just a training program. Firms, professionals and organizations use customer loyal development programs to build the long term relationship which provides increased revenue, increased profit and greater employee satisfaction. Investigate the possibility of a customer loyally program by contacting us.