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Customer Loyalty planning for your small business in 2014

By Kelly Robbert

Publisher: U.S. Bank – Posted on 01/06/2014

Posted In: Business

Now is the time to identify the 2014 Customer Loyalty goals for your small business. Depending on where you are at today the tips I have to offer will vary. Read on to identify your current state and how you can make 2014 a year where your repeat and referred business grows:

Current state: Beginner

You have not discussed customer loyalty as a strategy

Customer loyalty is when your ability to consistently satisfy customers results in your customer continuing to buy products and services from you and referring others to do the same.

Earning loyalty is the end game in mind because that drives revenue. Getting there requires a small business culture where all employees believe in the connection between consistently delivering satisfying customer experiences and growth of your small business.

In 2014 to make customer loyalty top of mind:

  • Define the satisfying experience we want to deliver to our customers
  • Identify the behaviors employees needs to consistently demonstrate to deliver that experience
  • Determine areas you need to invest in to enable the desired experience (people, process and technology), then invest (i.e. add staff, offer more training, implement a customer satisfaction survey)
  • Coach and recognize employees to the behaviors you have identified on a regular basis

Current state: Intermediate

You understand customer loyalty and know it is important but no goals have been set

Bridge from Beginner to Intermediate by adding the element of Voice of the Customer to your 2014 plan. Discover the voice of your customer by engaging a survey partner or making care calls to a portion of your customers for their feedback. Sampling 10% of your customer base can give you insightful trends that help you guide your business in a way more conducive to earning customer loyalty.

Questions you may want to ask can be simple yet powerful; for example:

  • Were we easy to do business with?
  • If yes, what did you appreciate most?
  • If not, what could we have improved?
  • Do you feel like we value your business?
  • Did we offer you solutions that meet your needs?
  • Was the employee you spoke with knowledgeable about our products and services?
  • Do you believe we have your best interests at heart?
  • Would you refer us to friends and family?

See this related article on measuring customer satisfaction

Current state: Advanced

Customer loyalty, including Voice of the Customer, is very much part of your annual small business planning exercise

So you have mastered the beginning and intermediate levels and are well into an advanced approach to your customer loyalty strategy, now it is time to:

  • Identify the process and system enhancements you have been able to put in place as a result of analyzing the results of your Voice of the Customer measurement.
  • Celebrate those time and time again so your employees see your commitment to enabling their ability to deliver satisfying customer experiences. Many people do not stop and clam victory with themselves or their employees – employees feel appreciated when ‘distractions’ are worked out of the system.
  • Grow existing and new customer relationships. You have reduced your risk of excessive employee and customer attrition with your investment of time, money and energy in a loyalty strategy. Use your stronger foundation to also focus on additional solutions you wan to offer to existing customers as well as increasing your pipeline.

Make 2014 about growing your loyal customer base. If you have any questions feel free to email me at connectbusiness@usbank.com. For more on earning customer loyalty, visit related Connect posts:

The Small Business Customer Experience

Presence & Consistency

Customer Advocacy

Problem Resolution

Establishing Trust

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