Date Added: August 2005
For most companies, customers are the number one priority. Valuable, loyal customers are hard to come by, especially when companies do not fully understand their customers' needs. Research noted that 59.6% of companies disclosed that the role of their customer was not well defined within their organization.1 In order to gain and maintain loyal customers, companies must invest energy into realizing what customers want.
Companies need to proactively identify customer value. By recognizing customers' value, a company ultimately can completely meet the needs of that customer. This can be done by developing a customer profile that pinpoints customer qualities and wants.2 Firms must be dedicated to understanding the behavior of its customers. Through a Voice of the Customer process that combines customer needs and behaviors, organizations can develop a competitive advantage and create loyal customers.
Obtaining this pertinent customer information can be time consuming, but is vital. An independent third party representative may be an alternative choice in gathering and analyzing data on your customers. Choosing a third party may also be beneficial to ensure the best results, as customers may be more willing to share honest, constructive feedback with those that do not have a direct link to your company. After evaluating what your customers want, you will be in a better position to sustain - and grow - those customers.
Some customers will never be loyal. This particular group of customers may be continually searching for the lowest price, or are unsure of what they value. Either way, these customers may not be the correct target audience, and some may wish to shy away from attempting to attract this unprofitable segment.
Conversely, there are customers that are completely dedicated to specific products or services. These types of customers are rare, yet not unfeasible to reach. Only 43.5% of companies are truly committed to customers.1 To get a customer to commit to your product/service, you must first show a commitment to them.
Focus intently on following up with the customer after the sale. Customers want complete service. They are more apt to conduct business with a company that exhibits outstanding customer service, rather than one with the lowest price.3
Five strategies to build customer loyalty are:3
Companies that believe in loyalty are more likely to provide customers with more positive experiences. Do not give the customer an excuse to look to your competition.
Obtaining customers is difficult - it takes an investment to gather loyal customers. Once a company has achieved a successful Voice of the Customer process, it is imperative not take these customers for granted. Organizations must continually focus on these customers - they are the most important aspect for continued business success.
1 Strativity Group. "2004 Global Customer Experience Management Study." www.strativitygroup.com
2 Gaffney, John. "Holding Out for a Hero." 1 to 1 Magazine. May/June 2005: 18-21.
3 Compton, Jason. "Locking Out the Competition." 1 to 1 Magazine. May/June 2005: 30-34.