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Building Customer Loyalty

We're in the midst of the holiday season hustle and bustle, which is often when businesses reach out to their loyal customers with holiday cards, gift baskets, or other festive treats. And while this effort is certainly worthwhile if done thoughtfully, how do you take care of your loyal customers the other 11 months of the year?

Remember, a loyal customer can offer a lifetime of value to your business. The more products and services your customers use from you, the more likely they'll come to depend upon you and the less susceptible they'll be to the competition's offers. Loyal customers are also your best form of advertising, whether it's through actual referrals or through testimonials you can use on your website and in other marketing materials.

But building customer loyalty doesn't happen overnight. It takes effort. Follow these tips, and you'll have an even more loyal customer base 12 months from now.

Focus on Customer Relationships:

  • The key word here is relationship. Change your mentality from "completing a sale" to "starting a relationship." Don't look at your customers as dollar signs. Look at them as what they are: real human beings with real needs. How can you help them?
  • For so many businesses, the greatest portion of marketing and advertising dollars is spent on winning new customers. Suddenly, it's all about the conquest, not what comes afterward: nurturing the relationships. Balance the allocation of marketing dollars between acquiring new clients and taking care of existing ones.
  • Keep in mind that selling additional products to existing clients is easier than selling new products to new clients. Focus on selling more to existing customers. This will involve truly understanding their needs, which leads us into our next strategy.

Conduct Customer Analysis:

In order to sell more to existing customers, you need to understand those customers better. In order to do this, you need ongoing customer analysis.

Client Satisfaction Surveys
Many companies conduct satisfaction surveys. They ask the customers how satisfied they are with certain services, the company's responsiveness, and the professionalism of the staff--all good information. But what satisfaction surveys don't tell you is how your clients perceive your company and its products or services. Like it or not, the old adage is true: perception is reality.

Client Perception Interviews
Perception interviews will tell you:

  • About your company's strengths and areas for improvement
  • The value a client received from working with your company, what business improvements they expected to experience, and what they actually experienced
  • The problems or challenges the client was facing when he or she sought your services
  • Where they typically find out about services or products like yours--is it referral, yellow pages, Internet, or something else?
  • What they think you need to do to reach more companies
  • Other areas or problems they think your company could help them with if only you offered the solution.

By taking the time to conduct a client perception interview, you're not only learning information you can use to market to customers, you're also sending a message that their experience and input matters. The best client perception interviews are anonymous and conducted by a third party, such as a marketing firm. This way, the customer feels free to "let it all hang out." You'll be surprised at how eager your customers will be. Clients we've worked with have never had one of their customers say no to participating.

Implement these strategies today and watch your loyal customer base grow even stronger next year.

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We'd be remiss if we didn't take this opportunity to thank our valued clients, many of whom read this newsletter, for the wonderful working relationships they provide us each and every day. We wish everyone a fantastic holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!