While successful businesses have always been about price, quality, and customer service, what can an organization do to guarantee that a particular customer will keep coming back? With so much competition out there and everyone trying to outdo each other, building customer loyalty is not an easy task.
No matter how you address it, customer loyalty emanates from excellent customer service. Consumers want their shopping experiences to be completely effortless and done to perfection. In other words, the easier and better a business is able to make one's shopping experience, the more the consumer is likely to return.
As an example, today I was doing a hefty grocery shopping run since my son was coming home from for the holidays. At checkout, the cashier asked me if I had found everything I needed. I told her I couldn't find chocolate chip muffins, and within the "blink of any eye" an associate came over to me and asked if I would like him to see if the bakery section had put the muffins out (the bakery had been making them when I started shopping)? And by the time the cashier had finished ringing up my purchases, the associate returned with the chocolate muffins!
Were my expectations met? Yes, they were, and today every experience in the Publix supermarket was more than pleasant - from the handy sanitary wipes for cleaning the handles on my shopping cart to the helpful assistant checking on the status of the freshly baked muffins. It was the combination of the smiling and interested cashier along with the immediate response of the assistant to engage me as a customer and show me how important my needs are to the company they represent.
Of course there are other methods organizations use to build customer loyalty. In many retail or service industries remembering client names, birthdays and anniversaries establish an emotional link. Still other businesses track a customer's favorite products. I'm a regular shopper at the Clinique counter in one local department store. I always receive reminders, special offers, and discounts via email and regular mail. They track my regular purchases and introduce me to other products related to what I have purchased in the past which are likely to be of interest to me.
And of course, there are all the loyalty programs that are multi tiered as a customer spends more or stays with a company for an extended period of time. If the benefits are relevant and easily redeemed, consumers want to participate. Everyone wants something for nothing; everyone wants to be appreciated. It's not always about selling something to someone either. Be sincere when making people feel important and appreciate them as people - not just as a dollar sign.