Loyal customers keep on coming back. Loyalty is earned after the sale has been made and after the product or solution has been delivered. It is all about their perception of value.

This perception is the reward that you get for delivering what you promised in quality, service, and responsiveness. More than just satisfied, a loyal customer refers you to other potential customers. They value the relationship with you and they want your business to succeed.

A loyal customer often pays more and they won’t stop to haggle when placing an order. They are confident in your product or solution and they feel that you need to be fairly compensated. Since you know them and their special needs, servicing this customer is easy. The sheer repetition helps.

When there is a problem, they know by experience that you will make things right. They have a great dialog with you, so they offer suggestions on how you might improve the product. They help you design the next generation of product.

For many businesses, the repeat customer is the lifeblood of the business. Invest in your repeat customers as much as you invest in your new business development efforts. Frankly, you want to keep these folks coming back, consider the creation of a customer loyalty program.

There are a few common types of loyalty programs. A rewards program entitles frequent customers to earn perks or rewards based on sales volume. The gifts could range from simple gratuities to vacations depending on the size of the business and the “gifting” practices in your industry. Entertainment gifts may be the most common reward such as tickets to sporting events or the theater.

A membership program can provide incentives such as discounts, freebies, free shipping, and other earned incentives. The member carries a special card and gets special access to sales events. There is a practice in the haberdashery business called “trunk sales” or “invitation-only sales”. A clothing store will hold a private sale for loyal customers; in this case, the customer gets a first look at new merchandise along with special pricing.

Once you have identified a customer as loyal, make sure they stay that way. Stay in touch with them. Send note cards saying thanks. Keep them updated by e-mail. Visit them. Have lunch or coffee with them. Remember significant dates such as birthdays, graduation days, or anniversaries. Holiday cards are great, but they all come at once. Consider Thanksgiving cards as novel way to stay in touch; they are seldom given but they are remembered. If a client has been sick or was injured, follow up with them.

Let them know that you care. Say thanks again and again.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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