Keeping Customers Loyal:
The Human Side of Doing Business
By Joe Calloway
The Acme Widget Company needed to increase revenue and profits, so
they undertook an initiative to attract new customers. They
launched a new advertising campaign and offered special deals to
first time buyers. They were initially delighted to see a
significant and immediate increase in new customers. Their joy was
short lived, however, as they saw revenue and profits actually
The Acme Widget Company made a classic business blunder. As new
customers came in the front door, existing customers were leaving in
greater numbers through the back door. They had violated one of the
most important rules of business: never take your customers for
Even a small reduction in customer defections can significantly
increase profits. Because your fixed costs don’t change much
regardless of how many customers you have, the retention of existing
customers is vitally important in maximizing profit. Creating and
strengthening customer loyalty must be a top priority of any
business if it is to grow and prosper.
Merely “satisfied” customers won’t cut it in today’s marketplace.
Countless studies have shown that satisfied customers will defect in
a heartbeat if they think they can get a better deal somewhere
else. You’ve got to create completely satisfied customers
whose loyalty can’t be swayed no matter what your competition offers
Here are ten essential tactics to keep customers loyal:
1) Take a big picture approach. Demonstrate how your
product or service can help them accomplish their big picture,
2) Speak their language. Don’t use your industry
jargon, use theirs. Show them that you have a depth of
understanding about their business that your competition just
3) Be a source of intelligence. Dedicate yourself to
finding new information and insights that can help your customers
4) Know who the customer is today, not yesterday. Your
customers constantly change. You have to know how to serve your
customers’ current needs, not their needs from a week or a month
ago. Stay current on changes in your customer’s situation.
5) Point out what an incredible deal they’re getting. What
are you doing for your customers that provide value, but that they
may not know about? Let them know what you’re doing that goes above
and beyond the expected.
6) Make it the first six weeks again. The first six weeks
of any relationship are magical. Everyone loves everyone. Gestures
of appreciation are made on a regular basis. Then it starts to get
old. We don’t try as hard anymore to make a great impression. Go
back to that first six weeks. Make it magical again.
7) Make them tell you how to be better. Don’t ask your
customers if they’re happy. Ask them how you can be better. Make
them tell you. They will appreciate that you are making the effort
and you will gain some information that can lock in loyalty.
8) Find out who’s trying to break you up. Your competitors
are always trying to steal your customers away. Find out what
they’re whispering in your customers’ ears. Match or beat any value
that your competition if offering. (That doesn’t mean you have to
beat their price. You just have to beat their value).
9) Continuously audit your “easy to do business with” factor.
Look at every touchpoint you have with your customers, including Web
site, telephone calls, invoices, or anywhere else you interact with
your customer and see how you can be easier to do business with.
It’s the number one rated factor in business-to-business buying
10) Have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart “thank you” session.
Don’t discount the significance of expressing appreciation to your
customers. Get in your car or on a plane, and tell them in person
how very much you appreciate their business. It could prove to be
your best insurance against defection to a competitor.
In a business environment in which margins continually shrink, the
competition gets better, and customers become smarter and more
demanding every day, the fight to retain customers becomes
critically important to your success. While always working to grow
through the acquisition of new business, never let your focus waver
in terms of keeping the customers you’ve already got.
Remember that customers tend to leave because they didn’t like the
human side of doing business with a provider of a product or
service. Be sure that you are competitive with price and quality,
and always be vigilant about that human side of doing business.
Maya Angelou spoke a great truth with these words: “People will
forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people
will never forget how you made them feel.”
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