Have some New Year's resolutions regarding
career or business success? In today's high-speed, competitive market,
you'd be crazy not to—and even crazier not to keep 'customer loyalty'
front and center of your intentions.
Former Dell CIO Jerry Gregoire alluded to the critical importance of
achieving customer loyalty when he said, "The customer experience is the
next competitive battleground." Amen! The customer experience makes or
breaks customer loyalty. With so many choices today, it's the quality of
the experience—how you repeatedly make your customers feel at each and
every touchpoint—that will determine whether or not they'll come back,
purchase more, and refer their colleagues and friends to you.
It's all about your customers' perception of the value you deliver, both
tangible and intangible. You may think you know the kind of customer
experience you're delivering and that your customers share your views.
You may think that because your customers stick around and don't
complain, they are loyal.
In fact, you may be mistaking customer inertia for loyalty. It's easy to
do. Remember that loyalty is a genuine emotional attachment that occurs
when your customers appreciate the value of your product or service, as
well as the way you deliver it. Because they repeatedly feel powerful,
positive emotions in dealing with you, they'll choose you above your
competitors—even if they have to go out of their way or pay a bit more.
Yes, strong customer loyalty pays. It puts your business into a
profit-building cycle in a number of common-sense ways:
1) Loyal customers buy more—and are
often willing to pay more. This creates a steadier cash flow.
2) Loyal customers refer others to
your business—saving you the marketing and advertising costs of
3) Loyal customers are more forgiving
when you make mistakes—even big ones—especially if you have a
system in place that empowers employees to correct errors on the
spot. Then loyal customers become even more loyal!.
4) A loyal customer's endorsement can
surpass the most extravagant marketing efforts. Proof of the
pudding: A low-budget film can become a blockbuster hit thanks to
positive word of mouth (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Mega stars and
publicity blitzes can't prevent high-profile films from tanking
(Alexander the Great); the 'word on the street' is more powerful.
5) Thriving companies with high
customer loyalty usually have loyal employees—and loyal employees
save you money in a variety of ways. You don't have to spend money
attracting, hiring and training new employees, and you have
knowledgeable people at all levels of the organization serving the
customers and each other. And those employees get very smart over
time. In a culture that values them and their contributions, they can
be responsible for countless system improvements—and millions in
6) Thriving companies with high
customer and employee loyalty are generally known to outpace their
competitors in innovation. (Think Gore-Tex, Southwest Airlines (the
twenty-minute turn-around), Progressive insurance. . .) In addition,
their cultures support continuous learning. In today's market, if
you're not continuously learning and innovating, there's no question
that you're falling behind.
7) Loyal customers understand your
processes and can offer suggestions for improvement. Their feedback
can help with R&D efforts, as well as improvement efforts.
8) Profits, profits, and did we say
profits? An increase in your retention of customers can boost your
bottom-line profit 25-100%, depending on your fixed costs.
Based on these benefits and more, I urge
you to make this the "Year of the Customer"; you'll be much more likely
to achieve your New Year's business resolutions.
. . . . .
Brandi is Publisher of the Customer Care Coach™—a weekly training
program on mastering "The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care."
She is the author of "Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep 'em
Happy, Keep 'em Loyal and Keep 'em Coming Back" and "Building Customer
Loyalty—21 Essential Elements in ACTION". She writes a free email tip
on customer caring. You can sign up at