Customer Loyalty -- Is it Your Company's Priority?
By M. Dana Baldwin
Most companies advertise their loyalty to their customers,
but how many really are as loyal as they profess to be? What specific actions
have they committed to which will build true customer loyalty? How is customer
loyalty really measured?
Where does building customer loyalty start? Upon reflection,
it should become obvious that to have loyal customers, one needs to have a
loyal staff. What actions has your company taken to establish a positive,
reinforcing, committed attitude within your staff? What are the components of
building staff loyalty?
Staff loyalty should start with having an atmosphere within
the company that encourages loyalty, low turn-over and continuing education or
mentoring of many key employees. Starbucks works very hard at building employee
loyalty so that their employees will make their customers feel special and
appreciated. This involves training and setting an atmosphere in which the
employees feel valued, and feel encouraged to pass on their positive attitudes
towards the customers.
How often does your company listen to your customers? Do you
regularly ask your customers how well you are meeting their needs and
preferences? Does your company ask your customers -- certainly your best
customers at a minimum -- what else you could do to provide even better service
and satisfaction? Are there unmet preferences that should be addressed, in
order to build an even deeper relationship between companies and their
customers? Are their complaints well received, and, more importantly, acted
upon in a timely manner? Make it easy for customers to complain, but only if
you really intend to do something about the complaints. Response time
guidelines should be established in order to keep the problems at a low level
of intensity, because we all have had problems escalate when it takes too long
for a response to be made.
Another part of listening to your customers is how well you
act to improve your ability to meet and/or exceed your customers' rising
expectations. Are you really responsive? If you are, you likely are perceived
as providing good service to your customers. If not, why not, and what needs to
be done to change this approach to building customer satisfaction? Are your
first contact employees -- those who your customers first encounter when
contacting your company -- well-trained in understanding customer needs and
preferences, and in responding to these needs and preferences in a consistent
and responsible manner, within the confines of what is possible for the company
to actually do for the customers? Are they well-equipped to respond both
verbally and in writing? Is their grammar good enough to represent the company
positively, and do they have the resources within the company they can contact
in order to resolve whatever the customers requests, in a timely and
Finally, how do you truly measure customer loyalty? It is very easy to measure loyalty by accepting what each customer says. The true measure is found by examining what each customer actually does. A customer's buying behavior, not their expressed attitude, is the real measure of their loyalty. By examining what each customer actually does, you can tell which are truly loyal, and, using this approach as a guide, you can determine which customers really value your company and the relationships you are building.
© Copyright 2011 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., -- Reprint permission granted with full attribution.Dana Baldwin is a Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.
He can be reached by email at