April is Customer Loyalty Month, a great time for companies to take inventory of the best practices, processes, and metrics around how they're engaging with customers across the enterprise in an effort to boost their loyalty. Here are five action items to help increase your company's customer loyalty in 2014.
1. Listen to customers
The power of customer feedback should not be underestimated. Listening to customers uncovers countless ways to differentiate and innovate. Once you've mined customer interactions, aligned insights with strategy, and accessed or created key resources for data, investigate how you can use what you learn to create advantage.
Question: Are you sharing customer feedback collected on the frontlines with the rest of the organization? Do you have strategies and processes in place to act on the insights and to incorporate them into marketing and engagement strategies and new product development?
2. Get with the program
Rewards and loyalty programs are everywhere. In fact, the average American belongs to 18 different loyalty programs, and yet 77 percent of loyalty programs that focus on awards alone are failing within the first two years.
Focusing on points is a fatal flaw to the majority of loyalty programs. Instead structure an experiential program that fosters an affinity with the goal of delivering ongoing incremental value to customers.
Question: Is your company shifting the paradigm of its loyalty program from a transactional-based to a relationship-driven that delivers real bonus for the consumer and the company over the long term?
3. Be proactive
Companies that use proactive service can differentiate themselves from competitors, and strengthen customer loyalty. Proactive customer service represents an opportunity to provide customers with relevant and meaningful support based on an understanding of their interests and anticipated needs.
For many businesses, the default approach to customer service is to respond to problems as they arise. This reactive method might satisfy the customer, but it won't surprise or delight them. Instead, imagine if you could solve problems before customers had to call you. Or even better, if you could address issues before they even became aware of them. This proactive approach to support is not only possible, it's profitable. As for feedback, listen and provide self-service options for customers. This can result in considerable dividends down the line.
Question: Are you turning your customers into advocates for your brand by investing in a proactive customer service approach that anticipates their needs and responds to issues in real time?
4. Get emotional
Companies like Zappos and Apple built their brands by creating emotional bonds with customers. At Zappos, for instance, every call is perceived as a way to make an emotional connection with a customer by capturing their hearts and minds. Customers become engaged in a personal way and are positively impacted at every level of their experience with the Zappos brand.
Question: what's your emotional competency? Are you making emotional connections with your customers?
5. Become frictionless
According to Don Peppers, "friction, to both the physicist and the consumer, is the enemy; it is an absolute waste, with no redeeming attributes, and the less friction generated, the better."
For businesses, the existence of consumer friction represents opportunity. Every time an organization can reduce the friction in its customer's experience, it's adding value and eliminating waste. Eliminating friction will ultimately propel an organization into becoming omnichannel, enabling seamless and personalized service in any channel and at any time.
So identifying and eliminating the kinds of friction your customers encounter can be very beneficial when it comes to gaining a competitive advantage and improving a customer's loyalty and lifetime value.
Question: Do you have a plan in place to help break down silos and eliminate any obstacles that get in the customers' way when they interact with you? Are you pushing the boundaries on creating a frictionless enterprise with the goal of creating brand loyalty?