|Written by Thomas Conroy|
Introduction: Every businessperson worth their salt is aware that the road to success is paved with the gross income earned from the purchases of repeat customers. Without them, a venture has a minimal chance at best of surviving more than a few months beyond the initial launch.
Customer loyalty is the aspect of the business world that remains a constant regardless of the economic conditions, and can be the saving grace for a struggling enterprise attempting to ride out a recession. The cultivation of customer loyalty should be a top priority for every type of business, and every communication with a customer whether they be potential or existing should be directed to gaining trust and recidivism.
Step 1: The art of increasing customer loyalty begins at the initial point of contact, where first impressions set the tone for the possibility of a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. Every employee from the telephone receptionist to a company's warehouse and delivery personnel are representatives of the organizational implementation of it's customer service policy.
It should be perfectly clear to every employee from day one that courtesy, respect and an affable persona are as much a part of their job descriptions as the actual physical tasks that are assigned to them. Rude, selfish and obnoxious behavior on the part of any employee directed toward a customer in any reasonable circumstance should be grounds for immediate termination, and this should be an established feature of the terms of employment.
Step 2: Salespeople should be directed to serve the customer in a timely and professional manner, with the customer's best interest at the forefront. Sales should be motivated by customer need and financial limitations, not by commissions and in-house sales contests.
When it is established that the customer is more than just an open checkbook, the seed of customer loyalty is planted and allowed to take root firmly, and the resulting word of mouth advertising is priceless. Special offers and discreet rebates to loyal customers is a certain way to tell customers that their patronage is appreciated, and that they are held in great esteem in the eyes of a vendor.
Step 3: The ability to increase customer loyalty is imperative in the growth cycle of any business, as steady customer sales translates to the elimination of cash-flow related financial issues. These in turn reduce the need for seasonal layoffs, and result in a more stable and attractive atmosphere for both employees and customer