May 1st is National Loyalty Day, which was first observed in 1921 as a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States. It’s nice for citizens to show their commitment to their country as it brings people together for a common cause. Can the same be said for businesses? How many loyal customers set aside time to re-affirm their commitment to their cellphone or TV provider? While they may not have a specific day to observe loyalty, consumers are making that decision constantly. Every day is Loyalty Day for business!
Businesses are faced with daily loyalty challenges as consumers have more options than ever. Better price from another supplier? They’ll consider switching. Disruption in service? They’ll consider switching. Product delivery late? You get it. It’s a constant battle for all organizations and isn’t contained to just one day per year. So how can they build a loyal customer base who will stick with them year after year? One approach is to start with outstanding customer service.
Consumers know which companies deliver great service and those that don’t. They stick with great service companies because they make their lives easier and have a relationship. Here are five tips on creating meaningful customer experiences that build long-term customer loyalty:
- Use their love language. Personal relationships are much more successful when each other’s love language is spoken. Each party receives communication in a way they understand and appreciate. Customer service relationships should operate on the same principle. Understand how your customers prefer to engage with you, whether via self-service guides, virtual assistance, live chat, mobile, or a combination. Furthermore, within that engagement, study the nuances that are specific to the channel – for example, customers engaging through mobile chat will be using short, simple sentences to communicate because of the small typing space, and would appreciate the same in response due to less screen space for reading on the go.
- Always remember a face. Don’t you feel important when someone remembers your name and something specific about you? When your customer calls your 800 number or comes back for a subsequent purchase, let them know that you remember them and appreciate their loyalty. Offer them personalized offers or deals that are relevant to their history. Showing them generic ads or content they have not shown interest in can turn them away. A good memory (made possible with customer data) makes your personalization efforts more meaningful.
- Talk about the weather. OK, maybe not. But real-time, location-based customer data should give you a good picture of where your customer is, and you can support or market to them accordingly. If your customer is in Boston in the middle of a snow storm, perhaps an apparel company would offer a special on scarves, or a telemedia company would proactively offer a free streaming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for a snowed-in family hunkered by the fireplace. Help the customer understand that you know what they are going through at any time.
- Be a good listener. People know you value their words when you ask them polite, probing questions, listen to their answers, and respond appropriately. In customer relationships, agents should actively listen to what’s at the core of their customer’s issue or search. And whether interacting through live chat, virtual assistance or self-serve guides, customers should be able to voice their opinion through surveys, customer forums, or social media. Pay attention and take the opportunity to improve.
- Be consistent. Customers don’t care if one engagement with your business was on their lap top and another is on their smartphone; they consider both to be part of the same interaction. Your customers’ omni-channel world-view expects nothing less than to receive the same engagement across all the channels they use. Eliminate those silos to present one consistent face to your customers.
Does your company deliver on these customer service skills? If so, great! You may be ready to set up your own Loyalty Day. If not, apply these engagement rules and start building customer loyalty worthy of celebration every day.