(This is part one of a series of blog posts on Relationship Marketing)
‘The customer is always right.’ For over a century, that statement has been the basis of many successful businesses, but it has also been misinterpreted as a synonym for customer satisfaction. In today’s business world, relationship marketing has replaced the traditional focus on individual transactions and per-case customer resolution, making Customer Satisfaction, Retention and Loyalty more than just post-sale efforts.
While these three key marketing principles are different, they all tie in to each other and should be considered equally important for all businesses:
- Customer satisfaction is a measure of how a company’s products and services meet or surpass the customer’s expectations. It is the basic entry point of good business practices.
- Customer retention can be identified when a customer places an additional order before a 12-month period has expired. Ideally, additional transactions contribute a similar financial amount than that of the original order.
- Customer loyalty is a company’s practice of finding, attracting, and retaining recurring customers over the long-term.
With the U.S. facing signs of economic recession, and companies making adjustments to survive the downturn, customer retention and loyalty has resurfaced as a priority for those fearing the worst. When money is tight, customers switch from the brand they love to the brand they can afford. However, there’s something to say about customer loyalty and what it can do for companies, even under such scenarios.
Now, here’s what most companies don’t know: relationship marketing – and the practice of customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty – isn’t rocket science. In this series of blog posts, I’ll be sharing with you some of the practices Guidance employs to keep customers happy and coming back frequently. Here’s a start:
Be selective when choosing clients. Not all service companies can afford to be selective with their clients, but if you are looking for long-term client relationships, choose those who truly are a pleasure to work with. At Guidance, we work with clients and partners who have integrity, and who are fair honest and respectful of others. Since satisfaction is a subjective concept, you are more likely to be on the same page with clients who are nice than with those who aren’t. And frankly, nice clients make it just that much easier to please and guarantee satisfaction.
Run your business with integrity. No matter what product or service your company offers, make sure your customers know they are dealing with an honest company. Being trustworthy can be the most precious marketing and selling asset of all.
Always act in your customer’s best interest. Whether it means turning down a client’s business to suggest a competitor’s, or losing money on a product recall for safety reasons, high-integrity actions that are done with your customers’ best interest in mind can hurt a little in the short-term, but payback is surprisingly quick and worth any special arrangements you may have incurred on.
Invest in your customers’ success. Jack Welsh once said “One thing we have discovered with certainty is that anything we do that makes that customer more successful inevitably results in a financial return for us.” At Guidance, we also attribute our success to that of our clients, which is why our business strategy focuses in making clients successful and getting them to dominate the eCommerce space in their vertical.
Have a loyal workforce. Building customer loyalty is a lot easier when you retain employees who are constantly interacting with your clients, such as sales people, technical support, and customer service. Many companies forget to support their employees and provide them with a place that’s enjoyable to work at. Guidance is fortunate to retain employees for many years, and the compliments from our clients make it clear that they too appreciate the people in our team.
No amount of money can buy the kind of advertising that satisfied customers give your company for free. Satisfied customers drive retention and loyalty, and because of the high profitability of a loyal customer base versus the high cost of finding and acquiring new customers, your current business strategy may be missing out on a great opportunity if it isn’t investing in successful client relationships.
Stay tuned for more on Relationship Marketing, Customer Satisfaction, Retention and Loyalty.