Five Tips in Building a Loyal Customer Base

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  • Monday, December 26, 2011
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  • Jennifer C. Jimenez
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  • Attracting a new customer is more costly than taking care of those you already have. As the market competition becomes more intense, businesses who do not know how to build a loyal customer base get kicked out. Below are the five  important tips in making your customers happy.

    1. Have a customer-centric approach.

    Most entrepreneurs, salesman and marketers commit the mistake of putting their products at the core of business. While products are important, your business will survive and grow only if there is a demand--- the customers' need for it. Instead of highlighting your products, take the perspective of a potential customer and ask yourself, "What benefit will the product give me?"

    Sometimes, the customer will want to buy the product not just because of the quality but because he trusts those people he transact with. Being honest, sincere and courteous in providing assistance will give them the impression that you are more interested in helping them find what they need than  in getting their hard-earned money.

    1. Identify a core competency and use it to your full advantage.

    A thriving business will most likely encounter a lot of competitors. To be able to take the larger pie in the market, pinpoint a competency, that thing that you do best. For instance, if you are starting out as an owner of a pizza store, you should decide whether you will focus on producing the best-tasting pizza or delivering pizza the fastest in your community. Then commit your resources into that competency. Once the market recognizes and attaches that competency into your business, then integrating complementary competencies will work to your advantage.

    Focusing your resources in one competency will be more productive than distributing them thinly in various competencies.

    1. Take the long-term perspective.

    You should always aim to provide customer satisfaction. This will help win the customer's goodwill and go back to you in the future. Aside from the lifetime purchase value that you will have because of that loyal customer, you may also gain more customers as he or she refers you to his or her friends who might also be convinced to transact with you.

    Case in point: A customer complains to a manager about buying a defective product. The product defect was found out when the customer got home. Obviously, the customer demanded that the product be exchanged or his money be returned. Unfortunately, the company's policy is No Return, No Exchange. Having been informed of this, the customer asked that he be directed to the manager.

    The manager, having found out the customer's dilemma, agreed to take back the defective item and exchange it with a good one. He even offered that the money be returned. He also apologized for the inconvenience the defective product caused the customer and explained that the company policy rules out defective items.

    The result? The customer was appeased and changed his mind about taking back his money. Furthermore, he decided to take a bulk order of the product so that he can sent it out as gifts to his friends. The customer was very grateful that he patronized the store ever since.

    Lesson: "Be willing to lose a battle in order to win a war."
    -H.J. Brown

    1. Always deliver more than what you have promised.

    The expectations that the customer set upon your products or service depends upon the promise or claim you made. It is a challenge to promise something that will uniquely set your business apart from the competitors, but you must always find ways to deliver more than what is expected.

    A bookstore, for instance, can give free bookmarks and a coupon listing the current bestsellers and interesting must-haves to every customers who purchase books. That will suggest to the customer other books that he might want to read and help him become more comfortable reading the book he just purchased. It will also help the store advertise not only the most well-read books but also the other less popular books available on the rack.

    1. Follow-up.
    This applies more to the high-end product and service providers. The post-sales transaction is as important as the actual sale but this often goes neglected. A lot of customers feel that they are coaxed into buying something that they do not really need or are deceived once they feel frustrated at the purchase later on. Doing a follow-up makes customers feel important, rather than just being a plain part of business transaction. This usually entails a lot of benefits.

    A car salesperson, for example, will benefit more if he will visit or call the customer asking him if everything is alright regarding the car that was just purchased. Sometimes, it only takes a little more assistance for the customer to be totally satisfied with their purchase. A car buyer might just be confused of the car's specs and does not know how to operate on some parts, but not really unhappy about purchasing the car.

    Doing a follow-up also gives you an opportunity to sell more to the customer. An interior designer, who asked his customer regarding the house design a year after he rendered service might find out the customer's other needs. For instance, he has more chances of knowing that the house owner wanted a renovation and that his service might be wanted again.

    An IT service provider who calls the client a year after installing a system might learn that the company needs a team who can maintain the system and install necessary system add-ons.

    Bonus Tip:
    Be consistent but always give room for innovation.
    Any brand or business entity must be consistent with the message they deliver in the public. Your mission, vision, goals and strategies must be strongly linked to create a strong impression in every stakeholders' mind.

    Stakeholders refer to the people with whom the company interacts with may it be through employment, product, service, profit or the geographical area of certain branches. Stakeholders include the company stockholders, employees, customers and the communities affected by the company.

    Consistency encompasses the way your deliverymen conducts service along their routes, how the receptionist greets the potential customers, how the managers treat his subordinates, and many more facets that entail projecting your company or brand's image. Every single employee must be strongly committed to your brand that they become your personal brand ambassadors.

    This topic will be expounded more as we go through the topic of HR management. As you will see, your employees can strongly affect the way customers view your product or service. Thus, taking good care of them will not only make your customers satisfied, but also boost your profits.

    Since the employees are the one who interact with the customers directly, tapping their ideas for creative and practical solutions will be a less costly and motivating means of innovating. However, certain steps must be done to reinforce a workplace ambiance that encourages out-of-the-box solutions and participation. I'll delve on this topics further in my future posts.