Here’s how to have real customer loyalty

Just about every company wants more loyal customers. Many think the way to increase loyalty is with bribes. Not real bribes of course – bribes are bonus points, frequent flier miles, and any other program that pays customers to continue doing business with a company. These programs seem to work because people use them.

But there’s a big difference between someone who stays with a company because they want to and someone who stays because they get paid to.

Think of it this way (to paraphrase Jeff Gitomer):

Would you want your best friend to be your friend because they want to or because you pay them?

Real customer loyalty comes from helping your customers accomplish what they want. It means knowing why they came to you in the first place. And it means knowing what you’re willing and able to do for them.

If you really want more loyal customers, you need to create an alignment of message between three groups of people:

1. Those who manage the organization (management)
2. Those who do the work of the organization (employees)
3. Those who buy the product or service produced by the organization (customers)

The message that needs to be aligned is simple: It’s what to expect from the organization.

It tells customers what experience they should expect when they are customers.

It tells employees what experience they need to deliver to the customers.

It tells management how they need to allocate resources to help employees deliver the right experience to their customers.

When these three groups all understand and agree on the message, then everyone is working and thinking toward the same goal. They’re all rowing in the same direction. And the organization benefits from having a lot more resources working together. Customers, employees and management become partners rather than adversaries (or strangers).

There’s a much greater likelihood they will accomplish their goal.

The first step in attaining this organizational nirvana is to start talking to your customers. Reach out to them. Find out why they do business with you. What do they want from you (or your industry or profession)? What brings them back to your company? What do they expect (as opposed to what they want)?

Gather your employees around and create a list of 10 ways your organization (or store or branch or division) can find out what keeps your customers coming back. Then start doing these things. Take notes and keep a record of what you learn. Then you’ll have something to work with as you begin to create the right message.