Building a recognized brand grows more competitive each year, making it even more challenging to stand out. That’s why brands are creating positive experiences to help build trust and favorable impressions in the minds of their audience.
When a customer experiences consistent positive emotion or experience with a brand, it results in a magical element known as "customer loyalty." The customer begins to associate the brand's products or services with high-value and chooses to do business with the brand despite other visible brands in the market.
One of the hallmarks of customer loyalty is an individual's perception of how important they are to the brand. In other words, when a customer is treated well and is showered with excellent customer service, the individual chooses to remain loyal to that brand.
So, what is customer loyalty and how can you use customer service to keep your existing and future customers loyal?
The psychology behind customer loyalty
Dr. Michael J. Hurd is a psychotherapist who studies the psychology of loyalty and has written extensive articles on the topic. To summarize, Dr. Hurd believes that loyalty is a choice that we make based on subconscious drives and unidentified feelings. A trivial matter can propel us to becoming disloyal while consistent positive regard encourages the continuation of loyalty.
Carl Rogers, a theorist, and psychologist put forth the idea of unconditional positive regard, in which a therapist accepts everything a client brings to the table. He theorized that unconditionally accepting everything with a client helps build a stable and loyal therapeutic relationship which ultimately helps the client to heal. When we transplant this idea of loyalty to a customer service scenario, the idea stays the same.
As Dr. Hurd puts it, businesses need to work on maintaining consistent positive emotions among customers as even a small irritation can cause a loyal customer to switch sides. The Rogerian principle of unconditionally accepting a client's problems and issues applies in the context of customer service too. When you make unconditional positive regard a staple of your customer service experience, you can be sure that most of your customers and clients will continue to remain loyal to your brand.
You might be wondering why you should want loyal customers. Here are some reasons why:
- Loyal customers are 10 times more valuable than their initial purchase
- 78% of customers canceled a transaction that was in progress in response to poor customer service
- Acquiring new customers can be close to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing customer
- Competition is fierce out there and a trivial irritation can cause your loyal customer to jump ships
- Loyal customers who are miffed may complain to almost 20 people when they are not treated right
While customer loyalty is important for business success, poor customer service can shatter long-earned loyalty in no-time. However, when you consistently provide excellent customer service, you not only maintain the loyalty of existing customers but also encourage new ones to become loyal to you.
Here’s how customer care leads to customer loyalty:
1) Make assistance available immediately
Gerard Egan’s Skilled Helper Model stresses the importance of immediacy in communication to sort out issues with clients and help them feel better. Outside the realm of counseling, nowhere is this theory more applicable than in customer service. 94% of customers said they would purchase again from a company that resolved their issue effortlessly and immediately. Immediately attending to your customer's frustrations, needs and queries will help you to create a positive experience even if the interaction started out negatively. Train your receptionists and other customer service agents to deliver assistance immediately and effectively, or to follow the most efficient routing processes.
2) Be available always
Being unavailable to clients leads a person to look for acceptance and validation elsewhere. In business, if you are not available for your customer all the time, they will take their business elsewhere. To build customer loyalty, make sure that your receptionists or customer care agents are available 24/7. If you cannot achieve this alone, you can find a live receptionist service that comes at a fraction of the cost of having a full-fledged in-house customer service team.
3) Simplify communication and streamline your processes
Communicating effectively during customer interactions and streamlining the process of customer service leads to customer loyalty. Invest in a CRM to streamline your customer service process and train your staff to communicate effectively. There are several automation tools that help you to communicate with your customers effectively on both social media and email. In addition, you can choose to hire a live receptionist service to submit caller’s information to your CRM.
4) Make your customer feel special
Make sure your customer service leaves no reason for your clients to feel upset with your service or products. Focus on unconditional positive regard and accept your customer for who they are. Feeling accepted and receiving pleasant treatment causes a person to feel special, which leads to loyalty. Unconditional acceptance during customer care interactions leads to positive emotions that reinforces brand loyalty. As Dr. Hurd puts it, people are bound to make choices that "feel right." If your customer service is top-notch and empathetic, it creates the solid base required for a customer to "feel special" and choose to do business with you always.
5) Launch a customer loyalty program
Once you have customers who are inclined to remain loyal to you, you can use your customer service to sell loyalty programs. Those who receive loyalty rewards are found to be twice as likely to refer business to a new customer. In addition, a loyalty program provides the necessary motivation and incentive for repeat customers to continue remaining loyal. To reinforce this loyalty, make sure that your customer service team reaches out regularly to loyal customers and offer rewards to them. Studies show that when a reception acknowledges a caller’s loyalty, they are more likely to continue doing business with the brand.
6) Audit your customer service regularly
It is important to make sure that both customer service and customer loyalty are measured and quantified regularly. Identify metrics and KPIs that help you do so and regularly monitor these KPIs. Auditing the quality of your customer service and attending to any deficits in customer loyalty should be an ongoing process. A few KPIs related to customer loyalty include revenue, average transaction value, spend per visit, retention/churn rate and transactions per loyalty card. Most importantly, monitor active members of your loyalty program and devise a plan to communicate with inactive members on a regular basis.
Don’t neglect customer loyalty
Customer loyalty has a deep psychological basis and depends on consistent excellent customer service. Even a slight misunderstanding or slight from your side can result in this loyalty being challenged. Make sure to offer unconditional positive regard to your customers and treat them with the empathy they deserve to keep them loyal. Focus on improving your customer service as that naturally leads to customer loyalty.
The immediacy of assistance, being available, effective communication and a streamlined customer service process can all help you ensure customer loyalty. Finally, focus on making your customers feel special and reward your most loyal customers. Do not forget to assess the quality of your customer service and measure customer loyalty metrics on an ongoing basis. To reduce the burden on your staff, consider hiring a team of live receptionists.
With Abby Connect’s team of live receptionists, the company trains them on best customer service practices for the telephone including empathy, listening, tone of voice, how to create personal connections, and building trust. This allows their receptionists to truly deliver a memorable experience to callers and provides an excellent first impression of the business they are representing. Sign up below and experience the Abby difference today!