Building customer loyalty means paying attention now and later.

Building customer loyalty means paying attention now and later.

The other day I visited Nimble’s blog to check out what was new. A recent article, “How To Build Customer Loyalty And Increase Revenue,” caught my attention.

In particular, this statistic from 2004, shared by the Nimble article author, Ross Keating:

67% of people cease trading with a business because of perceived indifference.

Keating added this comment in his article, “they (customers) did not know if the business loved them or not!”

I’m not sure where the statistic comes from but it rings true to me. Mr. Keating’s take on what this means fits with this oft-quoted maxim, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In business, customer service isn’t the only thing that is important. Quality, value, pricing, availability, accuracy, location, meeting deadlines, keeping promises, usefulness and a myriad of other things are important to customers. But customer service is the icing on the cake and, really, it’s the stuff that holds the cake together too.

Most of us, if we have a choice between two products or services that are pretty much equal in all respects, are more likely to choose to do business with the individual or organization that provides and is known for great customer service. And great customer service is much more than a smile! It includes everything about the products and services we are buying as well as how we are treated.

Certainly, pricing and all the other stuff is important, but how we are treated is equally important. Most of us won’t trade one for the other … for instance, lower pricing but rude service. Some will, many won’t.

But customer service and customer loyalty go beyond how customers are treated in one-off encounters. If we really want to build a loyal customer base it requires taking care of the immediate needs of our customers as well as staying on their radar long term. So they don’t forget about us when they do need what we have to offer in the future.

Paying Attention To Your Customers

For businesses that may only do business with each customer a few times a year (e.g. local garage, garden nursery, yard services) or every few years or longer (e.g. automotive sales, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, web design services), delivering good service when we’re face-to-face with the customer is not enough.

We have to find ways to stay top of mind so that when our customers need our type of services again in the future, they think of us.

This is where tools like social media, e-newletters, cards for special occasions, annual phone calls, loyalty programs, etc. come in to play. These can help us stay on our customers’ radar, providing them with a reminder that we value them and haven’t forgotten about them, even when we don’t necessarily interact face-to-face or by phone that often.

Building Loyalty Is a Long-Term Commitment, Not a Quick Fix

When my husband and I bought our first house the real estate agent I contacted was someone I had known for years. She had been a friend at one time but as the years went by our lives went in completely different directions and our friendship waned.

But, with her realtor-friend hat on, each year she phoned me and sent me a calendar that had her image, contact details, etc. The phone calls were usually brief and sometimes a bit awkward. But, they reminded me she was ‘out there’ as did the desk calendar she provided yearly.

When it came to buying a home she was the first person I thought of – even though her service area was in a completely different area from where we were buying.

I didn’t contact her simply because she had stayed in touch over the years. I also knew she was a top realtor and very good at her job. But, I would have completely forgotten about her if she hadn’t made the effort to stay in touch with me throughout the years. If she hadn’t stayed in touch, she would not have been the person I called when we were ready to buy. Her regular phone calls and yearly calendar, kept her on my radar and top of mind.

On the flip side, is the realtor that sold us the house my husband and I currently live in. She gave us a lovely gift on the day we moved in to our house. We haven’t heard a word from her since. In fact, as I write this article I can’t recall her name! What are the chances of us contacting her if we ever decide to sell our home? Slim to none!

Keep Your Name Top of Mind To Help Build Loyalty

But realtors aren’t the only ones that need to keep their name in front of their customers. Each of us in business needs to pay attention to our customers and find ways to remain on their radar in a positive way … even if they may only need what we have to offer infrequently.

If we don’t show an interest in having them as customers, someone else will. Or, they’ll forget about us and actively look for someone else who wants their business.

Taking good care of our customers when we’re doing business with them today is critically important. It makes the difference between a good reputation and a not-so-good reputation.

But, if we hope to have customers return to us in the future, or even think about referring others to us over the years, we have to make sure they know we value them as customers and look forward to helping them again in the future, not just today.

Updated from the original article first written in 2015.