Customers come in all shapes and size as well as levels of development. They may be infants, toddlers, adolescents, adults or seasoned citizens. If you want loyal customers, you must continually develop your customers through your customer service for this is not a natural event.
For simplicity sake, you can group your customers into 4 levels of development.
- Loyal Customer
These customers again come in all shapes and sizes. Loyalty has no barriers be they geographic, demographic or psychographics.
To build customer loyalty means that you must be able to identify specific behaviors from each of these customers.
1. Suspect is someone who does not know you. He or she does not meet the prospect criteria. However, she or he may become a center of influence.
2. Prospect may know you or may be referred to you. This person has at least 3 of the 4 criteria that makes a qualified prospect. Additionally, he or she may become a center of influence and a referral resource for you.
3. Customer buys from you at least one time. A long-term relationship has not been established. This individual may become a referral resource for you. At this level of development, these customers may consider themselves satisfied with your products or services.
4. Loyal customers consistently buy from you on a regular basis. They make many referrals. If and when your business makes a mistake, they are more forgiving.
Once you understand where your customers are, you can then build bridges or plans to take them to all being loyal customers.
To move suspects to prospects means that you must create an Awareness Bridge through your marketing activities, networking events to third party referrals.
Then from prospects to customers suggests that these folks must travel the Buying Bridge. The planks on this bridge include a 7 Step Sales Process to strong marketing and selling skills. As the prospect walks over this bridge, a relationship with the seller begins to be firmly established.
To take customers and build loyal customers requires the Communication Bridge. During this time, the relationship is firmly established, contact is made at least 2 to 3 times each month and the seller becomes a trusted advisor or resource.
Even if the buyer becomes a loyal customer, there is still the possibility of defection through the Bridge of Denial. This is a bridge that the sellers believe does not exist. Behaviors include focusing 75% of all resources on attracting new customers; and assuming customers will stay loyal and assume if it is not broken why fix it. Through these actions, loyal customers will defect and eventually become the patrons to your competitors.
If your goal is to build customer loyalty, then take action specific to this customer service tip. First group your customers and then understand the bridges to customer development. Finally, put a plan of action together to keep you from walking the Bridge of Denial.