In last week’s posting, we began counting down the top 12 strategies for building a successful customer loyalty program in 2012. In part 2 of this series, condensed from Driving Retention and from Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It How to Keep It by Jill Griffin, we continue our countdown of the top 12 action steps you can take to implement a customer loyalty program.
#6: Get Responsive and Stay That Way. More and more, customers are coming to expect round-the-clock customer service. Review all customer touch points and identify any area that produces a responsiveness bottleneck. Prioritize these areas, with highest priority given to those affecting the most customers.
#5: Aggressively Seek Out Customer Complaints. 90% of customer complaints are unarticulated and manifest themselves in negative ways: unpaid invoices; lack of courtesy to your front line service reps; and above all, negative word of mouth. With social media, an unhappy customer can now reach thousands of your would-be customers in a few keystrokes. Head off bad press before it happens. Make it easy for customers to complain, and treat complaints seriously.
#4: Serve First, Sell Second. Today’s customers are smarter, better informed and more intolerant of being “sold” than ever before. They expect doing business with you to be as hassle-free and gratifying for them as possible. They believe you earn their business with service that is pleasant, productive and personalized; if you don’t deliver, they’ll leave.
#3: Know Your Loyalty Stages and Ensure Your Customers Are Moving Though Them. A loyal customer cannot be created overnight; they become loyal to a company one step at a time. By understanding the customer’s current loyalty stage, you can better determine what’s necessary to move that customer to the next level of loyalty.
#2: Practice the 80/20 Rule. All customers are not created equal. When it comes to customer loyalty, the 80/20 rule is alive and well. 80% of your revenue is generated by 20% of your customers! A smart company segments customers by value and monitors their activities closely. Rank your customers by actual revenue generation, then rank your customers regarding lifetime value (you will probably have to calculate a formula to do this). Compare the two lists and make sure you are investing in customer appreciation programs that target high-ranking customers on both lists.
#1: Build Staff Loyalty. It’s a fact: any firm with a high level of customer loyalty has also earned a high level of staff loyalty. It’s darn near impossible to build strong customer loyalty with a staff that is in constant turnover. Why? Because your customers want to buy from people who know them and their preferences. To build loyal staff, hold regular meetings with staff and ask these questions: What makes our company a good place to work? What can be done to make it an even better place to work? Take action on what you learn.
Here’s to a loyal customer base in 2012!