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Creating Customer Loyalty

by James Feldman

Think your customers are satisfied? They very well may be. Unfortunately, customer satisfaction doesn't always lead to customer loyalty. These days even if your customers are completely satisfied with your product or service, 40% of them will leave you and start doing business with your competition.

On the surface, 40% may not seem like that much. After all, over half of your satisfied customers are coming back. But in dollars and cents, 40% is costing you more than you may think, because attracting new customers can cost nearly double the amount it takes to attract repeat business from your existing customer base. 

What's the solution? Quite simply, in order to retain all your customers and increase your sales, you need to go beyond customer satisfaction and develop the rapport that will make your customers adore you. Only then will you achieve true customer loyalty.

The good news is that developing exceptional customer rapport is easier than you may think. Here are five rapport-building tips to help you go beyond customer satisfaction. 

1. Establish a Common Ground.   Customers relate to those people most like themselves. They want to feel a connection with you beyond that of being just a client. Therefore, you need to establish a common ground with each customer quickly.

2. Listen and Show Concern.   Your customers always want to talk about their most favorite topic: themselves and their situation, wants or needs. The more you talk about yourself or your business, the more you turn your customers away. In general, people don't take an active interest in a stranger's life. Therefore, you need to stand out by building a relationship through talking about the other person and offering compliments when appropriate.


A "Crash Course" on Customer Service

The 10 most important words:
"1 apologize for our mistake. Let me make it right"

The 9 most important words:
"Thank you for your business. PIease come back again."

The 8 most important words:
"I'm not sure, but I will find out"

The 7 most important words:
"What else can I do for you?"

The 6 most important words:
"What is most convenient for you?"

The 5 most important words:
"How may 1 serve you?"

The 4 most important words:
"How did we do?"

The 3 most important words:
"Glad you're here!"

The 2 most important words:
"Thank you."

The MOST important word:

Listening involves so much more than simply not talking. It's a matter of understanding your client; giving him or her your full attention, and making your customer feel important.

3. Use Humor.   One of the quickest ways to build rapport is through humor. A good joke or funny story eases tension and breaks down mental barriers. It also shows customers your softer, more human side.

4. Keep a Positive Attitude.  When you're positive and upbeat, people naturally want to be around you and do business with you. Unfortunately, in today's world, seeds of negativity are all around us, from traffic jams to 50+ hour work weeks. How we choose to look at those situations, however, determines not only our own mood, but also our customer's mood.

When you look at any situation in a positive light, everything around you becomes positive as well. Your mindset also shifts from negative to positive, which in turn "tricks" your body into feeling more alert, more alive, and freer. Even more important, your positive attitude rubs off on others, creating a more harmonious environment for your customers.

5. Treat Customers Like Family.  Your customers want to know that you have their best interests at heart. They want to sense a "we're in this together" attitude. You can easily accomplish this by being genuinely happy and excited to talk with them.

Since on average only 60% of your satisfied customers do business with you again, you need to continually improve your customer relation skills and build rapport with each and every person who walks through your door. You need to give every satisfied customer a reason to come back, while enticing new prospects to do business with you in the first place.

It is just like dating.  In the past the challenge of dating was very different. Men and women wanted a partner, someone to share their life, offer security and a family. Today that may have changed. We all seem to want someone who supports us on all levels, including physical needs as well as emotional, spiritual, social, mental, financial, and not necessarily family development.  It is no longer enough to find someone to marry us we want partners in every sense, in every area of our life.   This has required us to update our dating skills. To refine whom we are and how we communicate to others. It has become more of a skill and our potential partner has become more interested in the 'entire' package instead of one major area of focus such as physical attraction.  We want it all.  And so it is the same in attempting to obtain customers and exceeding their expectations.

When you go beyond customer satisfaction and create true customer loyalty, you develop long-term relationships, which leads to increased profits. The end result is customers who love you and a business that grows and thrives.

James Feldman is the President of several marketing companies. His clients include Toyota, Apple, Avon, Tupperware, Lexus, Compaq, etc. He is a professional speaker as well as author of several books. For more information www.shifthappens.com (c)James Feldman Associates, Inc.                            

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