Customer Experience News & Trends

9 ways to increase customer loyalty

Successful salespeople resemble evergreen trees. Their customers are like the needles the trees hold throughout the year. But only about 10% of all salespeople are considered “evergreen.” 

Stand strong

Evergreen salespeople stand strong against economic storms and produce profits year-round. They focus on building and sustaining strong customer ties. Their customers remain loyal and enthusiastic.

Shedding customers

About 40% of salespeople are similar to deciduous trees. They shed customers like the leaves that fall every autumn. In a frustrating cycle, they try to recruit new customers to replace the ones that inevitably leave.

Barren trees

About 30% of salespeople resemble barren trees with no sustainable customer relationships while another 20% are like wilting trees – their customers remain in place but there is no strong connection.

Customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is hard-won and mostly driven by the quality of the salesperson. The ultimate question is how can salespeople determine what their customers value most so as to satisfy their expectations. If salespeople don’t take the steps necessary to capture the customer’s loyalty, they can be sure that a competitor will try to.

Seeking new customers

Don’t make the mistake of seeking new customers while ignoring your regulars. Focus instead on the steady, reliable customers who drive your profits. New customer acquisition is important, but not at the expense of present customers.

Rekindle past evergreen relationships

Learn why previous loyal customers left you so you can figure out ways to win them back. Maintain your reactivation program and avoid a one-time or “start-and-stop operation.” Use multiple contacts and methods such as email, phone calls and cold calls to deliver your reactivation message effectively.

Never take customers for granted

Never take customers for granted. Some salespeople talk about owning a customer or having a territory wrapped up. Then they’re shocked when a loyal customer suddenly shifts to a competitor. It’s what we do for customers now, not last year that counts.

Never assume

Never assume you really know your customers. One of your key roles is to gather information continually about customers. What’s happening to them? What changes are taking place? What problems are they facing? What difficulties are they encountering in the marketplace? What are their opportunities? What internal changes are taking place?

Never stop selling

Never stop selling your company. In order to create customer loyalty, your customers must “buy” your company. Keep selling them on your quality and service. A major task for salespeople is to do everything possible to cause customers to want to do business with their companies on a long-term basis.

What creates customer loyalty?

Great prices, quality, product features and benefits, and service are components of customer satisfaction. But salespeople are the driving force in generating customer loyalty. A recent survey shows that customers who felt their salespeople stood out from the pack were 10 to 15 times more likely to remain loyal.

Developing loyal customers

Here are tips for developing loyal customers:

  • Demonstrate a “we’re here to solve your problems” attitude. Satisfied customers want a positive response when they run into problems or have questions. You may not always be able to answer their questions or meet their deadlines. But you can usually negotiate a compromise if your attitude is positive.
  • Focus on building individual relationships. Customers should feel they’re doing business with you and not just your company.
  • Make it easy to do business with you. Avoid loyalty killers such as “But that’s our policy.” Communicate your flexibility whenever possible.
  • Come up with new ideas for your customers. You have experience and knowledge. You know what’s happening in your industry and you know your customer needs. Make a serious effort to share your thoughts.
  • Make realistic promises. When the competition is tough, it’s easy to over-promise, but it’s far better to be realistic. Nothing undermines loyalty faster than broken promises.
  • Don’t be afraid to say, “We can’t do it.” This is not the same as saying, “We can’t help you.” It’s being honest. Don’t stop there. Try to help the customer get what’s needed, whether you sell it or not. It’ll build confidence and credibility for you and your company.
  • When you make a mistake, admit it right away. Don’t try to cover it up with excuses. The customer knows what’s going on and the experience will cast doubt on your credibility. Once you admit the mistake, start talking about solving the problem.

Adapted from: Evergreen, by Noah Fleming, a though leader in strategic marketing and customer loyalty.

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