Building a Loyal Customer Base
You really have to do more to build a loyal customer base. Most good customer service starts with a friendly, welcoming attitude followed by listening to your customers and then giving them what they want. While these steps produce good service, good service is expected by most customers. It’s not the great service that will separate you from the competition. Great service requires that you take more initiative.
Reactive service (meaning just sitting back and reacting to clients as they come to you) involves responding to customer’s interests, questions, and complaints. Let’s take complaints as an example since that is the most common thing that stimulates a reaction. A customer complains, and you take care of it. That’s good and research suggests that when the customer sees you as trying to deal with a complaint, they are more loyal than customers who never complained in the first place. The problem is that most customers don’t complain about little things, they just leave. So no matter how good your reactive service is it won’t produce lots of loyal customers.
What are needed are proactive efforts on your part…
Proactive service means that you take the initiative in reaching out to them first. You offer them something before they ask for it or even offer something they weren’t going to ask for. At a restaurant you might give regular customers a free glass of wine. As a service provider you might provide extra personalized information after you deliver your service. As a banker you might visit a customer’s office without trying to sell them something. You can also take the initiative in deepening your relationships with customers. Invite them to a party at your house or to a charity event.
Create a welcoming environment for them at your business. Have a fresh pot of coffee and some cookies out on your counter all the time. You’ll be surprised how many people will remember that and come back. Offer then a soft drink or a bottle of water. Or simply ask them how their day was or about their family. You won’t believe how you can get a potential customer to open up by just asking them a personal question before you talk business. Find out what you have in common, and talk about that first; this way you are not just building a customer base, you’re building relationships with customers who, if they like you, will continue coming to you even though someone closer sells the same product for less money.
Be proactive in building relationships with your customers in ways that make them feel special, and they’ll reward you with loyalty and friendship.