Wednesday, March 24, 2010
How customer loyalty is your ultimate competitive advantage
It’s not a secret that loyal customers are good for an organization or brand. You don’t see too many executives saying they don’t want more of them. But what’s interesting to me is how few companies truly acknowledge, take care of and leverage those loyal customers in a way that measurably accelerates market share and recurring revenue while mitigating competitive risk and reducing sales & marketing costs.
New customer sales & marketing? At most companies that means a meaningful lead generation budget, a full sales team, lots of support and attention.
Existing customers? A newsletter, maybe some training, and an 800-number if they have questions.
This is a broad generalization, but you get the point (and you’ve seen it, both at companies you work with and for, as well as directly as a customer of others).
How are your current customers perhaps your most valuable competitive edge?
· Treat them right – deliver a fantastic product or service – and you can count on their business for life
· Be remarkable, and they’ll tell their friends and colleagues about you as well
· Earn their trust, and they’ll tell you exactly what they’re seeing in the market – your competitors, new innovations, etc.
· Engage them regularly, and they’ll tell you when you’re wrong, when you screw up, and give you time to fix it
· Actively listen, react to their feedback, innovate when they ask, and they won’t go anywhere
· Create an army of ambassadors, and they’re an extension of your sales force in situations you have zero access to today
· Make them your eyes and ears, and they’ll give you the earliest heads-up possible to any competitive threat on the horizon (with enough time to react, adjust, and cut competitors off at the knees before they can get momentum)
· Ask them to brainstorm with you, and they’ll give you far better, more creative ideas than you’d ever come up with yourself
· Surprise them with your responsiveness, speed and approachability, and they’ll treat you like a loyal friend
You can do this. You can do all of this, and most of it doesn’t cost any more than a change in how you manage your customers. How you talk to them. How often, with a different message, a different tone, and both more frequency and thoughtfulness.
Your customers desperately want this from you. They’ve made a commitment to you (in a big or small way), and all they ask is that you return that commitment to them.
There’s no question in my mind that every business has significant and measurable revenue potential with greater focus here.
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