Customer Loyalty Starts With Employee Loyalty
In previous editions of this newsletter, I have talked about what I perceive as the enormous difference between customer satisfaction and genuine customer loyalty.
Most of the things that companies do in an effort to boost customer loyalty—including loyalty “programs” that offer everything from frequent-flyer miles to special discounts for steady customers—really do no more than boost customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer will stick with you until a better, more satisfying offer comes along. And your competitors are always looking for ways to make a better offer. Loyalty programs can be copied. Loyalty itself cannot.
I argue that customers are not truly loyal to you until they have “stopped shopping” for better offers. You are so valuable to them that they have gone deaf to the appeals of your competitors.
I argue further that, in truth, such strong feelings of loyalty almost never attach to a company—a corporate entity. People only feel loyalty like that to other people. It is entirely a matter of personal relationships. This means that if you want true loyalty from your customers, you must rely entirely on your employees. Only they can earn loyalty. Only they can create it, nurture it, and keep it.
How can your company create the greatest number of truly loyal customers? Here is my answer: The underlying purpose of every conversation that every person in your company has with a client should be to create loyalty by strengthening their personal relationship with that client.
Does that sound like a tall order? I assure you that every customer-contact person in your organization can be taught how to act as a loyalty-generator. The “how” lies in extending and adapting Action Selling training beyond your sales force. Our new training program, Action Selling Customer Relationship Professional, is a perfectly natural development because the communications process that makes up Action Selling actually is as much a loyalty system as a sales system.
BUT FIRST, EMPLOYEES HAVE TO FEEL IT.
There is a strong connection, however, between the degree of loyalty an employee feels for the company and the employee’s ability to create loyalty in customers. If I don’t feel much loyalty to the company I work for, it would be awfully tough to convince you to feel any. And my sense of loyalty to my company would be hard to fake.
So what kinds of things can a company do to gain loyalty from its own employees? One key loyalty builder is for employees to feel as if they’re growing in their careers. Research shows that the biggest reason employees leave a company is because they feel they are in dead-end jobs.
One of the best ways to address that concern is to invest in great training that gives employees valuable new skills. If you have ever introduced Action Selling training to some salespeople and seen their skills and confidence flower, for instance, you have also seen their loyalty to your company rise.
In other words, when you use Action Selling training to turn all of your customer-contact people into customer-relationship professionals, you get a free bonus—and it’s a big one. The mere fact that you are extending training to more of your work force means that you are building employee loyalty in more of your work force.
As for the fact that the point of this training is to teach these more-loyal employees exactly how to generate greater loyalty among customers—well, you might call that a virtuous circle.
For information about how to make employee training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.
Want your company to start creating customers who are genuinely loyal? Check out my latest book, Masters of Loyalty: How to Turn Your Work Force Into a Loyalty Force.