In the world of business, customer loyalty and referrals mean almost everything. When you have loyal customers, you have customers that stick and will begin referring their friends and colleagues. That is the most valuable form of advertising, and one that money can’t buy. In a global market dominated by social and referral media, there is arguably nothing more helpful to a business’ bottom line than positive online reviews. Customer experience guru, Shep Hyken shares the tips he imparts with his clients to create customer loyalty and referrals.
Customer Loyalty: Will Customers Recommend Your Business?
by Shep Hyken
T he term “loyalty” usually brings to mind a long period of time … in other words, a lifetime customer. However, when I teach the concept of loyalty, I like to change the focus a bit. Don’t worry about a customer’s actions years in the future, focus on now. Or, more specifically, the next time. Customer loyalty is about ensuring a customer will come back to your business the next time, every time. Consider the following, what I call The Loyalty Question:
Is what I’m doing right now going to get the customer to come back the next time he or she needs whatever it is that I sell?
If you concentrate your efforts on the here and now – and the next time – the future will take care of itself. If you consistently perform in a way that will keep customers coming back, you will ultimately end up with loyal, lifetime customers.
In these modern times, however, with technology and social media, customer service strategies are constantly changing and evolving, and this one is no exception. In light of today’s technology-driven social world, we can now put a new spin on this question. I refer to it as The Evangelist Question:
Is what I’m doing right now going to make the customer want to leave a good review on social media sites?
In the past when we talked about customers as evangelists for business, it was mainly in reference to the recommendations they would offer in face-to-face interactions. Today, customers can voice their opinions – good or bad – about a business in an instant on social media for the whole world to see. An important tool in business today is evangelism via the Internet – positive reviews on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and websites like Angie’s List, Urbanspoon and Yelp.
And, a positive review gives you the answers you hope for to both the Loyalty Question and the Evangelist Question. The customer is willing to return, and he or she is pleased enough to freely offer positive reviews.
You might be tempted to think that this concept is limited to retail businesses selling directly to the consumer. However, B2B must not write off the concept as there are avenues in which industry magazines and conferences, as well as bloggers, will effectively “review” your company.
Social media has evolved rapidly and become a part of most people’s daily routine. As people “talk” on these channels, they share experiences with those in their circle of friends and beyond. It would be foolish for a business to overlook the importance of using social media to its advantage, so how can you ensure your company is portrayed in a positive light? Most importantly, do a good job! Create a customer experience that is so good it makes your customers want to share it with others, online and by word of mouth. This will not only evangelize for your business, but also create loyal customers who continue to grow in number.
Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees.
To learn more about Shep’s work, books, and speaking engagements, contact him here!
Did you enjoy this week’s story? Check these out!