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There is a big difference between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Customer satisfaction is always an opinion, assessment, snapshot. It’s the answer to the question, looking back in time, “Are you happy with what we have done for you?” Have we met your expectations? Have we fulfilled the conditions of satisfaction? In fact, the traditional definition of customer satisfaction has been “meeting customer expectations”.
But there is an assumption in organization’s pursuit of customer satisfaction that has been proven false. It is not always true that a satisfied customer will also become a loyal customer. Today many organizations can “meet customer expectations”. Satisfying customers has become the norm, a minimum for staying in business. But satisfaction does not mean the customer will be loyal!
So what is customer loyalty, and how do you earn it and keep it for your organization?
Customer loyalty can be demonstrated with nine different behaviors. Each of these behaviors can be useful and valuable for your organization.
1. A loyal customer comes back.
This is obvious. A repeat customer is a loyal customer.
2. A loyal customer buys more.
More frequently, more volume, more of their total purchasing in your category. You get more of a loyal customer’s “share of wallet”.
3. A loyal customer buys your premium items, your higher priced or higher value offers.
A loyal customer is more likely to buy the bundle, get the whole package, sign up for the longer term agreement.
4. A loyal customer is more likely to refer or recommend you.
Loyal customers answer high on the NPS question: ”How likely are you to recommend our company to your colleague or your friend?”
5. A loyal customer is not only likely to, but actually does make recommendations.
Loyal customers score high not only on intention (“How likely are you to…”), but also in actual referral behavior. Loyal customers make deliberate recommendations to friends and specific referrals to their colleagues, neighbors, community members, and business partners. Loyal customers tell other people about you, and make the effort to tell you about them. Loyal customers make introductions happen. Loyal customers make the connection.
6. A loyal customer speaks highly about you in public spaces.
Loyal customers give you compliments in writing, over the phone, and face-to-face. This is positive and uplifting for the morale of your team.
Loyal customers also you compliments on websites, in blogs, newsletters, newspapers and other social and community networks.
7. A loyal customer defends you when you are under attack.
Everyone makes mistakes. When your company makes an error, many upset customer will complain or even flame and attack you in public online spaces. Many of your satisfied customers will remain silent. But a loyal customer will speak out in your defense, make comments to balance the feedback, and even refer a complainer to you personally to help get an issue resolved.
8. A loyal customer gives you constructive feedback when you fall or fail.
Most people will just walk away when you make a mistake, and then tell others, but not tell you. But a loyal customer wants you to recover and succeed. They will give you the constructive feedback you need to improve.
9. A loyal customer offers competitive intelligence and insight.
They will take the time and make the effort to tell you what other organizations are doing, what they are offering, and how they are improving. Loyal customers will help you stay up to date on what’s happening with your competition, your industry, and your market.
10. A loyal customer treats your staff and company with respect.
With your staff, loyal customers are courteous, encouraging, and respectful. They give compliments, appreciate efforts, and forgive occasional problems. With your company property, loyal customers protect you; they don’t damage or steal what is yours. After all, loyal customers are planning to come back, and they want things to be nice for them again the next time.
So it’s abundantly clear that customer loyalty is much more than customer satisfaction.
But how do you go about earning customer loyalty? Well it won’t happen by satisfaction alone. You need to do more than merely meeting expectations.
To develop a deep and loyal following, you must become a service provider who understands what your customer values, and constantly takes new action to provide that value, and then increase that value over time.
You must do this proactively, always looking for new ways to help your customers get more value from your service and become more successful. This is something that must be created and demonstrated over time. And this requires that others in your organization to work closely and effectively with you.
This is why A CULTURE OF UPLIFTING SERVICE is so important. With everyone working together; internal service providers giving better service to external, customer facing service providers. So that external service providers can provide better and more valuable service to your paying customers.
Doing that consistently and widely throughout the organization produces customers (and team members) who are not just satisfied with what you have already done, but are truly loyal. They are delighted with what you have done and are confident about what else you can and will do for them in the future.
Customer satisfaction or customer loyalty?
Which do your customers really want? Which do YOU really want?
And what will you do to earn it?
Let us know in your comment below…