How to Build Customer Loyalty the Old Fashioned Way

8455371254_9ea8f8b9ef_zIn the current world of one-click solutions, and instant information at our fingertips, solving customer concerns through human interaction can seem a far cry from the instantaneous results we have come to expect. For this reason, quality customer service must reach beyond mere efficiency; it must become a completely unique and personal experience in which the customer feels he or she is the number one priority, is being heard, and has his or her needs being met. The principles of customer care that have always garnered loyalty and satisfaction are more indispensable now than ever.

When a customer feels well cared for, a relationship of trust is established and they are far less likely to walk away when they hear of a negative experience, or have one themselves. According to global management consulting firm Bain and Co., a 5 percent increase in retention yields profit increases of 25 to 100 percent.

Either way you cut it, knowing how to properly treat customers and handle their concerns not only grows your business, it creates lasting loyalty.

Here are a few things to consider, or reconsider, about building customer loyalty:

Be Genuine

Though traditionally using a “corporate voice” has been equated to professionalism, there is greater value in authentic communication with customers and employees.  Without compromising correct grammar and language usage, authentic communication gives employees the opportunity to give empathetic, effective, personalized customer care, which in the end is what we want from a professional.

Instead of aiming for eloquence or mastery of a rote script, remember that your customers are human beings desiring to speak with another human being. Be genuine, respectful, and considerate while handing their concerns and you’ll earn their trust and respect in return.

Say Sorry

Everyone makes mistakes, and you will undoubtedly make your fair share, so it is best to plan for them now. When things go wrong, apologize quickly and compensate your customers for the inconvenience. Be candid about the steps you intend to take to rectify the situation and do so quickly, politely and by providing a realistic timeline for correcting the problem.

Thank your customers for bringing the issue to your attention. They have shown you trust in bringing it to you. Recognize and validate their concerns and be tactful when handling sensitive situations. 70% of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint in their favor.  So in the end, your efforts to repair your relationship will pay off with increased loyalty.

 Be Reliable

Forbes recently identified unreliability as the number one career-limiting habit, and with good reason. The cost of unreliability is the loss of trust, which is tricky to earn back in any relationship, and may cost you a client. A good rule of thumb is to under promise and over deliver. If expectations are set at a reasonable level, aim to exceed them. When it comes to your warranties, shipping dates, and other services, give yourself a little wiggle room. Then when your customers have their needs met before the promised deadline, you’ll leave them impressed, satisfied, and more loyal to you.

With the rapid innovations in customer service, it is important to remember the impact that human interactions can have on the bottom line. A repeat customer will spend 67 percent more than a first time customer. Therefore, being genuine, reliable, and responsible with company errors can hugely impact your revenue and inspire your customers to remain loyal.

Photo by Noelene D/ CC BY

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