Six ways to quickly create customer loyalty.
Customers want it all! With many competitors in the marketplace offering the same value, you cannot afford to NOT deliver exactly what they want!
What, exactly, do customers want? They consistently expect you to deliver five components to their buying process – quality, selection, service, a good price, and a positive shopping experience. They want to leave your place of business thinking, believing, and telling others about the positive experience, they had. In truth, that is what you should also want for them because every time a customer speaks or thinks of you positively, it reinforces their decision to shop with you again. If their experience is consistently strong, they will even become immune to your competitors’ advertisements that boast lower prices.
How can service providers ensure a great shopping experience, where all five conditions are met? This is a tall order, especially when we consider that, at least in retail, our contact with the customer can be as short as one minute. The answer: we must create a great experience by ensuring what I call loyalty moments. A loyalty moment is the result of taking a potentially negative or benign encounter and transforming it into a strong, positive, and lasting impression that will guarantee your customer will return to your place of business to buy from you again and again.
Following are six ways to create “loyalty moments:”
1. A customer approaches while you are busy with another customer.
Loyalty moment: You must, must, must acknowledge that you see the approaching customer. Just nod, focus for a second and smile, or say: “I’ll be happy to help you in a moment.” Breaking the focus from one customer to acknowledge the new customer – even for a second – creates a welcome helpful feeling and it does not compromise the quality of service you deliver to your first customer.
2.A customer complains and is nasty.
Loyalty moment: let the customer vent; think of a two-year-old having a tantrum. There is no point in interrupting the tantrum, or attempting a logical exchange. However, when the customer finishes venting, state with sincerity: “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I’m sorry you had that experience.” You could then follow up with: “Is there anything else that you’d care to discuss?”
For your own protection, don’t take the customer’s nastiness personally. Make sure you tell yourself: “This is not about me; this is a person who has no better way of coping with stressful moments than to vent and rage.” Then, turn the stressful moment into a loyalty moment by not defending, justifying, or getting emotionally ‘hooked’ yourself. Turn the full force of your charm and helpful attitude onto the next customer who is sure to appreciate you! Every encounter, no matter how negative, can be a learning experience, and always contains a higher story where even the most difficult of situations contains a valuable lesson.
3. Show interest. Be curious.
Loyalty moment: Customers are happy to have you be curious about their interests. I was shopping at a garden supply center recently, and an especially bright teenage employee was helping me to take my purchases to my car. On the way to the parking lot, he created significant loyalty moments by asking simple questions, such as: “Is gardening one of your summer hobbies? Do you find planting and gardening relaxing? What vegetables do you like to grow? What are your favorite flowers? Have you been gardening long?”
This young man acted as if he were already a Vice-President of Customer Service for a Fortune 500 company, and I was charmed and impressed with his style. I’m a firm believer that “How we do one thing is how we do everything.” Because of the way he treated me, I feel certain that this young man is headed for the top. And, when he gets there, it will not be by accident, but by design.
4. Increase communication skills.
Loyalty moment: After you have helped a customer, they usually say: “Thank you.” The service person usually responds with: “You’re welcome.” You can take the opportunity to transform that expression of thanks into a loyalty moment. Instead of the simple reply: You’re welcome say with enthusiasm and energy, “It was a pleasure to help you, and I hope I have the opportunity to help you again.” This communication process work especially well in a call center when you add, “…and when you call back, I hope I’m the one to take your call.” The person will hang up feeling special, even though they may have waited a few minutes in the queue before talking with you.
5. Turn a simple request into a memory of being seen.
Loyalty moment: A customer asks for directions and with enthusiasm, you direct them to the area in question. A few minutes later you see the same customer. Approach the customer and ask: “Did you find what you needed – and, can I help you with something else?” This is a great example of being proactive by offering help before a client asks.
6. De-stressing yourself enhances clients’ shopping experience.
Loyalty moment: Consistently creating loyalty moments creates job security and builds your reputation. You create a wonderfully positive work atmosphere when you help contribute to create happy customers, and when you become a positive person with which to work.
Employees are categorized as either a ‘top ten per-center,’ or the opposite – someone who needs a lot of attention and supervision to get the job done. Your customers and supervisors will certainly relate their positive experiences with you to upper management, and this earns you a great reputation where you are seen as a top ten per-center. Management knows which employee goes the extra mile just as well as those who get by doing the bare minimum.
Being good enough or just getting by is not good enough in today’s marketplace. Be the best you can be, and then go a little further with every customer you meet and the results will show. Remember: “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”