Where Do You Build Customer Loyalty?

October 22, 2010

Creating customer loyalty must be, at least in part, related to having a customer’s experience with and of your organization be a positive one.  What are those experiences and where do they happen for your customers?  Are your counter personnel highly motivated and educated to provide outstanding service that “wows” your new and existing customers?  Is your website easy to navigate?  Does your shipper deliver your product undamaged, on time, all of the time?  Each of these points-of-connection is an opportunity for your company to create a positive experience for your customers.  They are opportunities for you to create loyal customers…or customers for your competitors.

I recently had occasion to look at my own interactions with an organization that I do business with.  Someone asked if they should become a customer of this organization and, without hesitation, I said no.  Now understand, I am currently a customer, and probably will be for some time.  The organization’s business model dictates that unless I choose to throw money down the drain I will stick around.  So they haven’t lost me as a customer, but they didn’t gain the person that sought my opinion.  What did that cost the organization?  And how many more times am I likely to dissuade someone from becoming a customer?

I became a detractor as a result of a succession of less-than-positive experiences that combined to color my overall opinion of this company.  These experiences occurred at points-of-connection…the website, a phone call to the office, and reading the monthly invoice.  I have to admit that the severity of one of the experiences created a halo effect that had me look for less than expected results with other experiences with this company.  The website uses some pretty common navigation tools and methods but I found myself thinking there should really be a simpler way to get the information I wanted from the site.  So I contact the company, explain my problem, and describe what I believed to be a reasonable solution.  I was not thanked for being a customer or offering an improvement (regardless whether the suggestion is acted upon I think customer interaction of this type should be welcomed and acknowledged) and as far as I know nothing ever happened as a result of my call.

The delivery of service by this organization has been somewhat spotty.  I have placed an order and gotten no response.  No follow up.  No return phone call.  Nothing.  My order, for all intents and purposes, disappeared.  In addition to not having my order fulfilled, I spent valuable time seeking the service and placing the order.  To add insult to injury I received my monthly invoice that clearly spells out my monthly fee. 

The “final” straw occurred when I contacted the company to advise them of this experience.  Rather than speaking to a person I was routed into voicemail.  As there were no options to get to a live person, I left a message that has, as yet, not been acknowledged.  So I am still a customer (member) but if not for money already tied up with this organization, I would have taken my business elsewhere.  I am not what I would consider a loyal customer though I am and will continue to be a customer for some time.  And I am certainly not a satisfied customer.  Why?  A combination of less-than-satisfactory experiences have combined to have me advise prospects of this company to not become customers.  How many of your customers would refer their friends or acquaintances to your company?  How many little experiences with your company erode your customer’s support and willingness to give you more of their business?  Are you even conscious of the points-of-connection with your company…and the value they hold?

Any (and I do mean any) experience that your customers have that they associate with your company serve as points of connection.  These points of connection are your company’s opportunity to create loyal customers.  To the best of your ability you must know what those points of connection are and manage them so that customers have positive, referenceable experiences. Those experiences are critical to your creation of loyal customers and profits.

For information about how your organization or company can improve customer loyalty contact a Loyalty Solutions partner:

Bill Griffith / billgriff9@att.net / (586) 431-9311

Ocie Irons / ocie@ironbridgedev.com / (248) 231-2210

Jeff Johnston / jeff@goaladvantage.com / (248) 891-1560