Converting customer’s loyalty into economic advantage.ID_26954_Loyalty

 

The story. Every business has them. You know what I am talking about. The story about an unusual experience a customer had, over the top customer service, out of the box thinking that solved a customers problem.

My ‘story’:

I called my dry cleaner to see if they could stay open an extra 15 minutes as I was running late but needed to pack for a business trip. The clerk couldn’t accommodate me but later that evening, the owner showed up at my door with my order in hand. What made this more amazing is that the address on the ticket was our home but we were under construction and were living in a rental. Yet somehow the owner tracked us down. (Thanks Mark at Park Sheridan).

The challenge facing every business owner, where a SOHO or a large enterprise, is to turn their most loyal customers into promoters, those people who will eagerly spread the word.

Here are 3 steps to turn this love into profits. (Note this article was inspired by Bain’s Insights.)

Step #1: Learn more about your most loyal customers:

 

Every business has a core group of loyal customers, the ones who love you and/or your product or are appreciative of your service. They are the ones who sing your praises. But how much do you really know about them?

Many businesses have learned (or should have) to listen to customer dissatisfaction and deal with it directly. But how many work equally hard to understand their most loyal customers? What do they love? If its your product, what exactly do they love? If their loyalty comes from your service, what element or process impacted them? In other words, what are the real reasons they have become so enthusiastic?

Don’t hesitate to ask your ‘promoters’ these questions. Email a brief survey (please, please, please keep it brief- no more than 5-7 questions), make it personal (not a Dear Customer) and thank them for taking it. I recommend making the questions binary (1-5 responses) with only one open ended question at the end where your customer can (optionally) share an experience, recommend an improvement, etc.

Step #2: Tune your offerings to meet your promoters needs:

 

Getting to know your promoters will uncover your strengths and our weaknesses in your service or your product line. It might reveal unmet needs your customers didn’t articulate which, if addressed accurately can set you apart from your competitors. Banks are offering mobile banking; LEGO added smaller, easy-to-assemble add-on kits and Starbucks added a lighter blend. A small business has the flexibility to make changes quickly bit and since your customers are not all the same, tailor your offerings to meet different groups. This takes time and constant review and analysis but  will pay off if some of your loyal customers purchase one additional item or refers one new client.

Step #3: Help your promoters spread the word:

 

The story. Every business has them and the challenge is to provide your customers a platform where they can share them. Maybe a Facebook page (if Facebook is the right channel for you), a Pinterest board, testimonials to put on your site…….you know where your customers live online so be creative.

You have built a business and with hard work and some luck have built a loyal customer base. These promoters provide a necessary foundation for your growth. But that growth doesn’t come automatically- you need to identify who your promoters are, what they love about you and give them a platform to share that love.

Love make not make the world go around but channeling your customers love will have an impact on your bottom line.

 

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 Marcy Hoffman has over 25 years of business development background identifying market trends and building innovative businesses and serves as a consultant to startups and small businesses, helping them crystallize their objectives and build a solid marketing approach.