Do you know who your loyal customers are? And do you treat them accordingly?
Loyal customers expect a loyal business in return
Customer loyalty is a 2-way street, did you know that? Maybe you think customers return to you time after time because you assume you have the best product range, but actually customer loyalty is a strange animal that often has less to do with the latest normal purchase but more with the unwritten promise, or expectation of what you’ll do in the future when the next purchase comes around.
Obviously customers return because they do like your products or services, but being a returning customer also creates the, often unspoken, expectation that when something goes wrong, or when you as a company have to make some kind of Solomon judgment about customer A or customer B, you’ll come through for the loyal customer…
This assumption or expectation is far from illogical, after all, I have given you my business and trust time after time. This loyalty needs to be reciprocated, this is not a deliberate or economical thing, this is just an emotional feeling of what is right. This can be as simple as being among the select few to receive an invitation to a private sale in your favorite shop, but it also matters when your 50th online delivery doesn’t arrive, or your go-to hotel has only suites left when you arrive and it turns out they accidentally overbooked all the standard rooms of which you reserved one.
In those cases, as a loyal customer you expect them to reciprocate your repeated trust by trusting you and doing the right thing by you and give you that last suite at the rate of your standard room, or by resending your order without fuss or extra costs, after all if the previous 49 deliveries went without trouble, you deserve that benefit of the doubt this time. When we consider ourselves to be loyal customers, nothing delivers a more negative experience than being treated as a liar, cheater, or just a walking, talking wallet good for nothing besides dispensing money. Nothing makes us drop brands or companies faster than coming to the realization that we don’t matter at all to them.
Do all your employees know who these loyal customers are?
The only question, if you care about going that extra mile for your loyal customers, do you know who they are? And in this case “you” means everybody in your business or company that has a customer facing job, from the shop attendants to the reception desk staff to the call center people…? And assuming and hoping you have more customers than everybody can memorize, do you have systems in place to make sure that everybody can easily find out or be warned that they are dealing with a loyal customer?
Trust as a business driver
As a business you can only establish trust by doing the right thing for, at the very least, your loyal customer. This in no way means that you need to be gullible or naïve, but just that all things being equal, cutting your loyal customer some slack or choosing him over a one-time customer makes a lot of economic sense. After all, in real life, we cannot simply assume the good intentions of all the people we deal with. We look for relationships we can trust, and so a preference for dealing repeatedly with people who have reputations to lose by ill-treating us seems far from irrational – in fact, it is the very basis on which almost all inter-personal dealings rest.
So there’s a moral lession in this to not only look at the economy of doing business but also to value the relationship aspect of doing business. And make sure that your internal Customer Engagement Management systems and processes allow the identification and acknowledgment of this relationship company or business wide.