• 26th June 2006 - By proteman

    About a month ago, I was promoted from Marketing Coordinator at The Loyalty Group (TLG) to the Manager of Customer Loyalty. Since it was a new position at the company, I was asked to help define the role and responsibilities…and decided to write on what Customer Loyalty means in today’s business world as well as here at TLG.

    First, I opted to Google “customer loyalty” and 0.27 seconds later I came up with 28 million definitions.

    Next, I thought about my past role as a Consumer Market Knowledge Manager for Procter & Gamble and what I’ve learned about Loyalty in my personal experiences Here are some of my insights, lessons learned, and some questions that I’ll be thinking about in my new role as Manager of Customer Loyalty.

    • Customer Loyalty often starts internally with Employee Loyalty. According to Deloitte Consulting there is a strong correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction and, in turn, between employee loyalty and customer loyalty. On my first day in this role, my manager made it a point to really define my goals, show me how they link to company goals and even wanted to know about my work style. Showing me where I fit in made me a loyal internal customer…and set the stage for on how I should communicate to our clients. Ask Yourself: What can I do to first create loyal employees?
    • Customer Loyalty begins before the sale. Loyalty starts way at the beginning of the business cycle, when people start looking for a particular product or service. They may see your ad, hear about your company from a friend, or find your website while researching the Internet. After implementing a system to track visitors on our newly revamped website at TLG, I’ve learned the value of knowing who really is looking at what we offer. Where are they from? How long do they stay? Where do they click? These valuable numbers help me understand what seems interesting to website visitors and what keeps them coming back. Ask Yourself: What can I do to create loyalty from that initial point of contact?
    • Customer Loyalty is not just about getting positive feedback, but about being open to all kinds of feedback. To really get the valuable insight, you need to ensure that the customer is comfortable enough to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly. My family is in the restaurant business and they are constantly encouraging managers to get feedback from their patrons on a daily basis. One thing they teach is a role playing activity where the manager approaches a table and asks “How is everything going?” The standard answer from customers is usually an enthusiastic “Great!” Nothing more, nothing less. Next, we ask the manager to rephrase the question by saying, “It looks like everything is going well tonight. What ELSE could we have done to make your visit with us even better?” By showing customers that you are sincerely open to all feedback, you earn their respect and are much more likely to get useful, honest data. Ask Yourself: Am I making it easy for the customer to give me all their feedback, or am I encouraging just the feedback I want to hear?
    • You build loyal customers by actually TALKING to customers. In the age of voice prompted customer service lines and web contact forms, I’ve learned that most clients still yearn for an actual person. The other day a client had an emergency and couldn’t find training materials that had been shipped to them. You can bet that our voicemail system didn’t have an option to press 7 “for when you can’t find your materials and the meeting starts in 10 minutes!” People still appreciate that human touch sometimes. Ask Yourself: Am I really providing wanted customer service…or just making things more efficient for me?
    • You can earn the Loyalty of your suppliers by treating them like partners. At TLG we work with a Network of Associates, independent contractors with varying roles who choose how involved they want to be with our company. Because as independent contractors they are “free agents,” we must earn their loyalty or they’ll work for someone else. One of our latest initiatives has been to host complimentary Webinars for our Associates so they really understand what the company is about, and how to market us. We also developed a secure login section on our website to make their jobs more efficient while working remotely. Keeping our Associates loyal first, in turn helps keep our ultimate customer loyal. Ask Yourself: How can I earn the Loyalty of others who work with me?

    The definition of Customer Loyalty is broader than I originally thought, and it looks like none of the 28 million Google answers really fit—but one thing I know for sure is that it already has had a big impact on me…and our business.

    *To learn where the name The Loyalty Group came from, click here.

    ©2006 The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved. www.TheLoyaltyGroup.com

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