Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Posts tagged "loyal customers"

I enjoy my cable TV, Internet, and phone service through one provider.  It’s called bundling and usually saves the customer money.  The company we use for these services gave me an incentive to switch to them.  It saved me quite a bit of money.  Then, after a year, that sweet deal went away.  As expected, I started receiving my monthly bills at the “normal” price. Continue reading

You may remember the last Shepard Letter article about a woman who told me that because her company cut her pay by 30%, she would cut her effort (to the customer) by 30%.

This article sparked a number of calls/emails from readers who wanted to discuss doing business in tough economic times.  The discussions centered around “fear based” issues as a result of the economy, such as how to keep customers loyal, avoid price reductions, manage employee morale during layoffs and more.  What follows is my overall response to some of these conversations.

This economy gives us an opportunity.  Now, more than ever customer service to both customers and employees (internal customers) is paramount to the success of any company. With customers tightening their spending, this is the chance for vendors to prove to their customers that they value their business in good times and bad – and that the relationship is more important than the sale.

The same goes for employees.  The potential for apathy, even anger, from an employee is high as employee morale potentially slips due to layoffs, wage cuts etc.  Management must create an environment that fosters loyalty, both inside and outside of the company, in spite of the tough decisions they have to make.

A big point that is made in “The Cult of the Customer” is that employees and customers live in parallel worlds.  What is happening on the inside of the company is felt by the customers on the outside.   The book shows how to design a strategy that leads both customers and employees through five distinct cultural phases – from “uncertainty” to “Amazement.”  The bottom line is that great service must be experienced by both customers and company employees.  Companies and their employees must be operating at a high service experience level, regardless of the economy.

Here are just three simple lessons from the book that will help you deal with some of the above questions and concerns.  Don’t be fooled by their simplicity.  They are powerful and can help build a strategy to create loyal customers, even in tough economic times.

1.        Treat employees like you want the customer treated – maybe even better.  (This is one of my favorites and I’ve been preaching it for a long time.)  It starts at the top.  Be an example of the behavior you want employees to exhibit to their customers and their fellow employees.

2.        Recognize that a satisfied customer (and employee) is not a loyal customer.  This is a big mistake many companies make; thinking that they want satisfied customers. “Satisfactory” is a rating – and an average rating at that.  Loyalty is more of a bond, even an emotion – a feeling that a customer or employee gets from consistent positive customer experiences and a feeling of confidence about the company.  Focus on being better than satisfactory – better than average.  Be so good that customers and employees become loyal.

3.        Recognize that all of the advertising and marketing dollars don’t mean anything if an employee doesn’t treat the customer in a way that is consistent with your brand promise. This can be tricky in tough times, which is why controlling employee morale is so important. Employees should be an extension of all of your marketing and advertising efforts.  When they deliver on the promise and create an amazing customer experience, customer confidence goes up, which transforms into customer loyalty.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these strategies.  They are powerful and can help build a strategy to create loyal customers, even in tough economic times.

One of the main topics in my speeches has been being an expert and having knowledge of your business. I always preach the benefits of expertise – how clients and customers will seek you out as a source of information. The goal is to have knowledge of your products, industry, etc., and to also be perceived as “the Source” of information about anything relating to what you do and sell.
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