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Protecting a key business asset – customer loyalty

03 Sep

Protecting a key business asset – customer loyalty

  • Posted by tonyw

Nothing ever gets easier, does it?

In a world where competition has intensified and the attention of your customer or client is increasingly eroded, how do you keep that most precious of assets – a loyal customer? I’m talking here about the individual consumer or business that contributes above-average income and profit to your company, on a regular basis.

Business is tough enough without the worry that even previously satisfied customers can be easily seduced away. That’s the cost of marketing digitalisation, though. There are an ever-expanding number of opportunities now where your customer can now be reached by your competitors. Even if they weren’t intending to! And the seductive power of an apparently amazing deal can be hard to resist.

The ease of starting a new business has made for a much broader level of competition. Despite chronic staff shortages and the attractive salaries on offer, many talented (and some not so) people decide they want to run their own companies. It’s so easy to get started. Just get a domain and register a new business online for less than £100. And, bingo they’re in business! Another competitor arrives on your doorstep.

There are several ways to protect your business from the erosion of customer loyalty. But the first and most important one is that you must understand the needs of your loyal customers better than your competitors do. Then you must fashion your offer (service or product) to provide a superior experience in comparison to theirs. And you must make sure that this remains the case. No time to rest on your laurels. Vigilance is the key. People’s needs change and so it’s vital to check that you are still the preferred choice, and if not, why not.

Of course everyone is susceptible to a crazy price offer. And there’s not a lot you can do about that except make sure that you constantly provide a superior experience, not only “in use” but at every touch-point along the way. I’m talking about customer service, website, social media and delivery. Once your client has had a poor experience elsewhere, just like Arnie, they’ll be back.

The next step is planning. Making sure that the execution of your promise matches the strategy behind it.  For this you’ll need to drill down into customer buying behaviour. For example, understanding customer purchase frequency and then meeting that in good time and via the right channel. Knowing customer preferences and delivering to those expectations means spending time analysing customer data. And of course, that means capturing it in the first place.

Then it’s a matter of maintaining customer engagement – at the right level and rhythm, while encouraging your loyal followers to give you feed-back, positive or otherwise so you always stay close by and able to resolve a problem before it becomes an issue.

And finally, here’s an oft-quoted but nevertheless useful mantra to adopt. “Always try and exceed the expectations of the loyal customer”. This way you’ll tend to stay ahead of the pack, and protect that key asset in the process!

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