facebook google plus twitter
Webucator's Free Customer Service Tutorial

Lesson: Attracting Loyal Customers

Welcome to our free Customer Service tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Customer Service Training course.

There are all kinds of customers, motivated by a number of different things.

  1. The price-conscious customer is motivated by price and makes purchase decisions based on markdowns or discounts.
  2. The impulse-buying customer has no real need for something, but will buy based on what sounds good at the moment.
  3. The needs-based customer has a specific need and will usually just make the purchase and leave.
  4. The meandering customer wanders in and out with no specific need or want.
  5. The loyal customer comes to your business first for any of the products or services your company offers. While loyal customers account for less than 20 percent of a business's customers, they account for more than 50 percent of sales.

In this lesson, we will discover how to attract more loyal customers to create repeat business.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn how to create memorable service.
  • Learn how to develop loyal customers.
  • Learn how loyal employees impact customers.

Create Memorable Service

Great customer service is service that exceeds the customer's expectations and becomes memorable enough that the customer talks about it to others.

Continuously exceeding the customer's expectations will help create memorable service. Once a customer has experienced great customer service, he or she will expect that kind of service in the future, and if it continues to happen, that customer is likely to talk about it. Talking about it is likely to bring in more customers who will also be expecting great service.

Service Above and Beyond

There are many ways to exceed customer service without costing the company a lot of money. Many of these opportunities to impress your customer with excellent service cost nothing more than time.

  1. Take that extra step with your customer. If there is an opportunity to help a customer even if there is no immediate profit in it, take the opportunity. The customer will remember it and not only return to your company when he or she needs your product or service, but will tell others about the service.
  2. Follow up with your customer. Take the time to call or email the customer after the service has been completed to make sure everything is ok. Offer further service, but do not use this opportunity as a hard sales call.
  3. Offer something extra. If you have to cancel or change the customer's request, offer an incentive as a way of apology. For example, If you have to change a scheduled meeting or event with your customer, offer him or her a free service or product as a way of making up for the inconvenience.
  4. Train your staff properly. Make sure you and your staff have all the knowledge and information needed to answer questions and make decisions that will please the customer.
  5. Be sincere. Service that is perceived to be insincere or phony will turn the customer off quicker than poor service will. Let your customer know you mean it when you provide customer service.

Memorable customer service occurs when customers walk away from your company feeling that they have been treated like they are special.

Great Customer Service Examples

You can find examples of great customer service online, but how often do you actually hear your friends and colleagues talk about great customer service? People are usually more apt to complain about poor service than they are to rave about excellent service. What we need to do is to create more excellent customer service opportunities so our customers have more positive experiences to talk about.

  1. Problems can be opportunities. If a customer has a complaint or problem, take it as an opportunity to not only resolve the issue, but to go an extra step and offer additional service or incentives. For example, if a customer complains because his or her latest invoice is incorrect, fix the problem and then offer the customer a discount on the next invoice to make up for the inconvenience.
  2. Have a lagniappe handy. A lagniappe (from Louisiana French pronounced "lan-yap") is a small token or gift given by a merchant to a customer when it is least expected. Some examples of lagniappes are when the baker adds a 13th donut to an order of a dozen donuts or the receptionist handing a client a long-stemmed rose as she leaves the salon after a makeover. Lagniappes can also be bonuses or unexpected services.
  3. Treat customers like VIPs. When customers enter your establishment, acknowledge their presence and offer to assist them. Listen to them carefully and be ready to accommodate their needs.
  4. Surprise your customers. Continually look for ways to surprise your customers by doing something unexpected. For example, in a car rental company, the customer will be expecting a clean vehicle, with a full tank of gas. The customer won't expect a small welcome kit on the dashboard with a local map and coupons for a local coffee shop.
  5. Respond quickly. When a customer contacts you with a complaint or problem, respond immediately and have a process in place to provide quick resolution of the problem. Do not make customers go through a long process, especially if it involves providing a refund for a defective product or unsatisfactory service.
  6. Be proactive. When creating products or service packages for your customers, anticipate their needs ahead of time and be proactive in providing them. For example, a photography studio could include discount coupons to a local hair salon in its bridal packages.
  7. Get to know your customers. Learn their names and what kind of products or services they purchase. Offer related services or products when appropriate, but do not hard sell them. Follow up with them in a timely manner to make sure they have enough of the product or to see if they need more of the service.

Create great service experiences for your customers consistently and they will become loyal customers, returning to purchase more of your product or service. They may also bring their friends with them.

Check for Understanding: Create Memorable Service

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

In this exercise, please respond to the following questions:

  1. Which of the following can be considered great customer service practices?
    1. Following a customer around the store.
    2. Ignoring a customer who needs attention.
    3. Talking to your friends and co-workers while customers wait.
    4. Smiling and acknowledging a customer the moment he or she arrives.
  2. When providing memorable customer service, it is important to remember to:
    1. Be consistent.
    2. Be sincere.
    3. Be funny.
    4. Be proactive.
  3. An example of memorable customer service is:
    1. A store giving a customer a coupon for 50% off their next purchase along with a full refund for a defective product.
    2. A hotel restaurant that does not serve from the lunch menu until after 11:00 am providing a boxed lunch at 7:30 am to a guest who is going to be out of the hotel for lunch.
    3. A drugstore pharmacist who offers to deliver a prescription to a home-bound customer during a severe winter storm.
    4. A bus driver who gets off the bus at a stop during a rain storm and opens an umbrella over a rider between the stop shelter and the bus.

Solution:

  1. D. Smiling and acknowledging a customer the moment he or she arrives.
  2. A, B, and D.
  3. A, B, C, and D. All of these are examples of memorable service.

Develop Loyal Customers

As mentioned in the previous section, loyal customers generally make up around 20 percent of the customer base, but provide around 50 percent of the sales revenue. It is important, therefore, to develop those loyal customers, giving them reason to come back and to bring their friends. The following techniques can be helpful with respect to creating loyal customers:

  1. Reward loyal customers.
  2. Survey customers.
  3. Involve loyal customers.
  4. Keep in touch with loyal customers.
  5. Thank loyal customers.

Reward Loyal Customers

Ways companies reward loyal customers include:

  1. Sending birthday greetings with small gifts or incentives.
  2. Providing punch cards that offer a free product or service after purchasing a certain number of products or services.
  3. Setting up a reward point system that gives the customer a free product or service after earning a certain number of points.
  4. Sending a "we've missed you" greeting card with an incentive if you have not seen them in awhile.

Short messages or small offerings like these will let your customers know you value them and their loyalty to your company.

Survey Customers

Ask your customers what they think about your company and/or service. This can be done quickly and simply by asking just two questions:

  1. Would you recommend us to others?
  2. Why or why not?

Both positive and negative responses will provide valuable information for training purposes. If the customers say yes, the reasons they provide will help you determine what you need to do to continue to provide good service. Negative responses will let you know what you are not doing effectively.

Involve Loyal Customers

Ask your loyal customers for their input when considering making changes to your product line or service offerings. Customers will like feeling like they have a say in some of the business decisions you make. By considering customer input, you could also avoid making a potentially damaging decision.

Keep in Touch with Loyal Customers

Target your messages to customers appropriately by sending the right messages to the right customers at the right time. Do not overwhelm them with multiple messages, but do keep in touch by providing helpful information that is customized just for your customers. Find an acceptable balance between sending too many messages and too few.

Thank Loyal Customers

Use any business transaction, no matter how large or small, as an opportunity to thank your customer and show your appreciation for their patronage. Some other ways to thank your customer include:

  1. Support local charities. When your customers see you support the same charities they do, they will appreciate your company more.
  2. Get involved in the community. It can be surprising how much you can get in return for giving back to the community.

Check for Understanding: Develop Loyal Customers

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

In this exercise, please respond to the following questions:

  1. Which of the following may not be a good way to keep in touch with your loyal customers?
    1. Customizing messages so they meet the immediate needs of your customers.
    2. Sending an email blast to your customers once a week.
    3. Targeting your messages to the right customer at the right time.
    4. Surveying customers to discover how they feel about your company.
  2. Rewarding loyal customers will let them know you value them and their loyalty to the company.
    1. True.
    2. False.
  3. Read the following scenario and answer the questions after it. Two customers walk into a furniture store at the same time. Two sales people are standing near the sofa display talking to each other. The first customer walks to the mattress display and starts looking around. The second customer heads to the sofa department. Both of the sales staff walk away, one following the customer into the mattress area and one going to the office where the phone is ringing. One customer is engaged immediately in a discussion about the mattresses and the other is left standing there for over five minutes while the second sales person answers the phone call.
    1. How do you think the second customer is going to react?
    2. What could the second sales person have done to make the second customer feel more welcome?

Solution:

  1. B. Sending an email blast to your customers once a week.
  2. True.
  3. Answers to both questions will vary, but the discussion should include having the second salesperson acknowledge the presence of the second customer, excusing himself or herself to quickly answer the phone, and making arrangements to call the phone customer back.

How Loyal Employees Impact Customers

Employee loyalty is more than just staying with an organization for a certain period of time. Employee loyalty also means:

  1. Wanting to stay with the company.
  2. Being committed to the success of the company.
  3. Believing that working for the company is the best option for them.
  4. Not actively looking for a new position outside of the company.

Customer loyalty is tied to employee loyalty through the customer experience. Employees are the company to the customer and if there is a lot of employee turnover or if employees are obviously not happy at work, their dissatisfaction will be reflected in the customer experience.

Measuring Employee Loyalty

Job satisfaction surveys can provide information about how satisfied an employee is at work and can be useful in learning about employee perceptions of the company, their loyalty level and how to improve employee morale.

Employees will generally fall into three groups or levels of loyalty. Those three levels are:

  1. Loyal.
  2. Indifferent.
  3. Insecure.

Loyal employees are obviously the most desirable. However, in addition to being loyal, employees must perform consistently and productively. An employee can be loyal to the company, but not be a productive worker. In order to ensure the employee is productive, there must be performance measurements in place. The ultimate result is a productive workforce that is committed to the customer.

Indifferent employees take the middle road when it comes to commitment to the company or the customer. They will do just what is required, with no thought to providing the extra touch, to get their job done. This segment of the workforce will need extra training and attention in order to move them to the loyal employee segment.

Insecure employees are vulnerable. They will not be productive or committed to the company without encouragement or incentive. Companies will want to minimize the percentage of insecure employees by turning them into loyal employees or encouraging them in their search for employment elsewhere.

Employee Job Satisfaction

There are some things you, as an employee, can do to create and maintain satisfaction in your job. The happier you are at work, the more committed you will be to the company and your focus on the customer will be more positive. Follow the suggestions below to increase your state of well-being at work:

  1. Take responsibility quickly for your errors. Owning up to your mistakes sooner rather than later will actually enhance your relationships with your colleagues because the problem won't have time to escalate. Not taking responsibility just creates additional problems.
  2. Acknowledge your colleagues. When your colleagues do something that makes your job easier, or makes the workplace better, recognize that and let them know you appreciate them. Recognition and praise is an excellent motivator, even among co-workers.
  3. Continually work toward creating a positive workplace. It is difficult to work in a negative environment, so keep your attitude positive, and share that attitude with your colleagues.
  4. Keep your promises. Trust is a valuable component in a positive, supportive workplace, so do not break that trust by not keeping your promises.
  5. Encourage your co-workers. Support your co-workers when they need a boost. Help them by encouraging continued education or training if they feel they don't have the skill set to do something. They will respect and appreciate you in turn, making the workplace a more positive environment.
  6. Understand what motivates or stresses your co-workers. Recognize your co-workers' communication styles and adjust yours to best communicate with them.

In order to create loyal customers, a business first needs to create loyal employees. Satisfied employees who are committed to the company will take good care of the company's customers; unsatisfied employees may not. A company can't have loyal customers without first having loyal employees.

Check for Understanding: How Loyal Employees Impact Customers

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

In this exercise, please respond to the following questions:

  1. How does taking responsibility quickly for your errors improve employee loyalty?
    1. When problems don't have time to fester, everyone involved can move on quickly.
    2. Once errors are acknowledged and corrected, workplace tension is lessened.
    3. A workplace without tension is a healthier environment to work in.
    4. Employees are happier and more loyal when they have healthy environments to work in.
  2. What can you do to help insecure, vulnerable employees become loyal employees?
    1. Find out why they are insecure and do what is necessary to remedy that feeling if possible.
    2. There is nothing you can do, you might as well let them go.
    3. Give them all a raise.
    4. Give them all a three-week paid vacation.
  3. Read the following scenario and respond to the questions that follow: When Susan arrived at work one morning, she was surprised to see her co-worker Paul yell something into the phone and then slam it down. She asked him if that was a customer he was talking to. He said, no, it was his ex-wife asking for more money. The phone rang again, and Paul answered it with a curt greeting and proceeded to talk quite rudely to what was obviously a customer.
    1. What should Susan do at this point?
    2. How can Susan support Paul and help him improve his attitude?

Solution:

  1. A, B, C, and D.
  2. A. Find out why they are insecure and do what is necessary to remedy that feeling if possible.
  3. Answers will vary, but should include the tone that Susan heard and what she thinks the customer heard. Susan should mention that she would be happy to take the next few calls for Paul if he wants.