What You Need to Know to Take Your Customer Relationships to the Next Level
Maintaining a steady customer base is crucial to growing a business. And a key factor in achieving that goal is improving customer satisfaction, loyalty and engagement. In fact, research shows that:
- Best-in-class companies are more than 8 times more likely than Laggards to increase customer satisfaction.
- Best-in-class companies are more than 26 times more likely than Laggards to increase customer retention.
But the question is: Where do you start?
One place to start is by knowing and understanding the differences between customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and customer engagement in order to understand where your customers are today, and how and what you can do to take them to the next level.
For example, at the foundation level, customer satisfaction, a customer is simply evaluating the experience(s) that they have with a company (i.e. deciding whether or not it’s worth it to do business with the company again). By repeatedly fulfilling a customers expectations at this level, a company can move its satisfied customers up the relationship ladder into the loyalty group. Then, once that stage is achieved, the company is able to move the customer up to the final level: engagement.
Below are a few ideas on ways to improve your customer relationships at each level as well as move your customer relationships to higher levels:
- Ensure your product and service delivers as advertised/expected
- Be responsive and reliable, and treat your customers fairly
- Pay attention to your customers’ wants and needs, and meet them
- Provide your customers with good customer service; offer helpful, knowledgeable service, and be courteous and friendly
- Ensure your company’s policies are customer-friendly
- Make sure your facilities are clean
- Address and resolve your customers’ concerns and issues in a timely manner
- Understand and improve the customer experience; analyze what is and isn’t working; improve what isn’t
- Exceed customers’ expectations and build opportunities for repeat business
- Provide more special treatment to loyal customers; Empower your employees to better and more successfully serve your customers
- Create a two-way dialogue with your customers by providing them with an open communication channel to provide their feedback
- Gather customer feedback to improve your company, products & services; take action to improve your business based on that feedback; adopt technology to help you manage large volumes of customer feedback
- Properly train your staff & reinforce the message that the customer comes first through your actions
- Identify the specific business attributes that drive customer loyalty; allocate additional resources to the areas of your business that have the greatest impact on your customers’ loyalty.
- Reward customers for their loyalty
- Manage, measure and grow your customer loyalty
- Know the specific factors that motivate and drive your customers to do business with your company and continue to build on those
- Learn to see your business through the eyes of your engaged customers. Understand how and why your business connects with their values
- Use customer feedback to improve your business
- Manage, measure and grow your customer engagement
Customer loyalty facts
- Typically only 25-30% of a firm’s clients are completely satisfied – Such low satisfaction means that 70% or more of the firm’s clients may be open to pitches from competing firms. (Earl Sasser of Harvard Business School and Merry Neitlich of Extreme Marketing)
- 70% of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint in their favor. (Eastbridge Consulting Group)
- Loyal customers who refer others generate business at very low or no cost. (Earl Sasser of Harvard Business School and Merry Neitlich of Extreme Marketing)
For more information on this topic:
Look for more info on this topic in Chapter 2 of Engagement: Winning the Battle for Customer and Employee Hearts & Minds eBook