International Customer Loyalty Month rolls around twice a year—April and again in October. That always somewhat baffled me that we would identify two months out of twelve in which we want to focus, celebrate, and create customer loyalty. Creating customer loyalty should be a continuous effort by every organization in today’s chaotic and competitive environment.
Times have changed drastically from the days when loyalty was dictated by habit and/or family tradition.
- We drove a particular car because our folks had always driven that nameplate or maybe they manufactured that particular model nearby and this was our way of supporting a local job provider. Today, we must search for the very best value for our dollar considering longevity, gas mileage, and the possibility of that manufacturer even being in business in the future. No more loyalty.
- We voted for one political party or the other because our parents and grandparents have always voted that way. It was family tradition or maybe even a regional situation. Today, you evaluate the beliefs and promises of both parties and both candidates in hopes of deciding which candidate will best benefit you and your family. Sadly, you may even consider which candidate may do the least harm. No more loyalty.
- We used to send our children to the university we ourselves attended. Would you even consider an alternative? It was out of the question! Today, there are many factors to consider. Location, curriculum, cost, and quality are just a few of the many critical considerations which must be weighed before making a decision. No more loyalty.
Today, loyalty must be earned with each and every customer contact. It can no longer be taken for granted. Loyalty and confidence come from your customers experiencing consistent levels of great service—every time they have any contact with you—whether it’s on the phone, face to face, or via mail or online experience. Delivering great service once isn’t difficult. Doing it consistently is a much greater challenge.
Some think customer loyalty is about a lifetime of excellent service. To an extent, that may be true. However, the true key lies in how it’s delivered. Customer loyalty is about the next time—every time. Today, customers have more choices than ever before. You’d better be taking the time to evaluate exactly what you’re doing to insure that your customers will return next time or what you may or may not be doing that could possibly drive your customers to seek better service elsewhere.
April and October should NOT be Customer Loyalty Months. Customer service and loyalty should be our focus EVERY month! We must strive to exceed expectations twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—and sometimes 366! 24/7/52! If a loyal customer makes a decision to go elsewhere for any reason at all—there’s a strong possibility they won’t return to give us a second chance. Can you take that chance?