I will take a loyal customer over a satisfied customer any day. Every time a customer phones you or sends you an email you have an opportunity and a choice. Let me ask you, what choice do you make?

Do you create a lasting impression with your customer? –  A frequent, memorable impression? Do you really? Name a few examples. Here is a thought: today’s customers are price conscious, smarter, with leaner budgets and solicited by companies at every turn. Potential customers who have not received good service from your competition are more demanding, harder to satisfy, less forgiving and less loyal. For you and your business this is your opportunity to show them what good service looks like, and maybe, just maybe, create a new loyal customer in the process.

There is nothing better than getting unsolicited referrals from customers on a regular basis-we love this!  Try this – treat every customer as though they were your favourite celebrity, favourite hero, friend, neighbour or your grandma. How else should you think of your customer?

Here are some stats to think about in reference to an angry customer:

Kim Richardson
Kim Richardson

91% who leave never return.

96% who leave will not tell you the reason why they left.

80% will continue to do business if the problem is handled quickly and to their complete satisfaction. However, if the incident is really bad they will leave and tell everyone…..for years!

What are you and your team doing to create return business? What are you doing to build loyalty? How do you get it? How do you create a loyal customer? It is easier than you think. Simply, if you’re going to get loyalty you have to give loyalty. Like earning respect, earning a friendship or earning someone’s unconditional love, you earn loyalty. We live in a society of “What have you done for me lately?”  We are only as good as the next thing we do, not the last thing we did. We must never stop working to make our customers feel valued and appreciated – In other words, to keep them loyal.

Relating to our customers, the definition of loyalty must be practiced daily, executing a solid set of goals and objectives, principles and actions. It is not rules and regulations and company policies. Don’t get me wrong, policies and company regulations and rules are important but do not use them as a compass to guide you towards loyalty, for you will surely get lost. Sometimes rules have to be bent, and exceptions made, to ensure a happy (which equals loyal) customer.

From an investment perspective we spend far too much money on finding a new customer and not nearly enough money and time on maintaining and utilizing our current customer base to create (and keep) more loyal customers.

If you don’t own the company where you work think about your pay cheque. Your president, CEO or owner of your company does not pay your wages. He or she is just a conduit for funds. Your customers pay you! The boss just writes the cheque. To put it in the boldest, simplest terms – your kids eat because your customers buy.

This is how we create loyalty with our businesses. We understand what customers like and how they think.

This is what our customers want:

1) Value-” I want to know the product or service I am purchasing is at a fair price, and that I will be supported throughout the length of my ownership”.

2) Communication- “Let me know what I need to know when I need it.”

3) Attitude- “Be happy, eager, willing and prepared to meet my every need.”

4) Reliability – “Be consistent, be there when I need you to be there.”

5) Tangibility- “You need to have a professional image and it needs to relate to high quality and high performance.”

6) Assurance- “Deliver your service when you say you will and have a great understanding of what you are delivering.”

7) Empathy- “Understand me and my needs. Give me your commitment”.

8) Exceptional Service- “I vote with my money and you win the election every time I choose your company to provide the product or service I need. You win again when I recommend your company to friends, colleagues and other businesses that I do business with”.

This holiday season is a perfect time to start. Extend warm wishes to your long-time customers and show them you value their business. Create some loyal customers because satisfied customers will shop anyplace. Loyal customers will fight before they switch – AND they will proactively refer people to do business with you.

And on that note, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

 About the Author

Kim Richardson is the Chairman of the Allied Trade Division for the Ontario Trucking Association. He is a loving husband, proud father and grandfather, and friend or acquaintance to many in and out of the trucking industry. He loves and lives in Caledonia and is involved in a few businesses; KRTS, The Rear View Mirror and TransRep. For more information, contact Kim atkrichardson@krway.com or 1-800-771-8171 x 201.

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