It was back in 1984 when the International Customer Service Association came up with the idea that the first full week in October would become National Customer Service Week. It was created to celebrate the employees who worked so hard to take care of their customers. In 1992, it received national attention when President George Bush acknowledged the week and officially proclaimed, “A business will do a better job of providing high-quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference.”
Most people confuse the concept of National Customer Service Week by focusing on customers. Nothing wrong with that, but the intent was a focus on the employees. So why not celebrate both?
That leads us to another upcoming “holiday,” Customer Loyalty Month, which is observed in April each year.
Today, great customer service is expected, and if you want customers to come back, then you better create an experience that makes them want to do so. Consider what drives loyalty, or at least repeat business. Our customer service research surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and discovered some interesting findings to support what gets customers to come back.
First, we asked a general question about why a customer would either come back or not. Note, these are not loyal customers.
· 73% would be willing to go out of their way to go to a company that has better customer service.
· 83% are willing to switch companies if they have a bad customer experience.
We followed up with a question that was specific to customers who claimed they were loyal to a brand or company.
· 67% are likely to switch from companies they are loyal to after a rude or apathetic experience.
· 63% are likely to switch because of the inability to connect with someone for customer support.
· 60% are likely to switch simply because of bad customer service.
And these are your loyal customers!
Loyalty is up for grabs. The past two years have been disruptive to business for a number of reasons. You can blame the pandemic for shutdowns, slowdowns, supply chain issues and employment problems. But there is one reason that most companies miss. That is that customers’ expectations have changed. They formulated new expectations as businesses changed and adapted to new processes, protocols and more during the pandemic. Some companies aren’t keeping up with those changes.
That is why this April is the perfect time to recognize International Customer Loyalty Month and make the effort to understand why customers keep coming back (or why not).
There are many ways to show your love for your customers, but I want to get more strategic and share an exercise that will get you hyper-focused on your customers. So, gather your team together and ask the following five questions:
1. Why do customers do business with us instead of the competition? Don’t say because we have great service. The competition probably says the same. What really makes you different?
2. Why do customers choose to do business with a competitor instead of us? If you don’t have the intel on what your competitors are doing that you’re not, you’re missing out on some great information. Figure it out, because it’s important! Once you have that information, you can adapt (not copy) those reasons to get more customers to start doing business with you—and for existing customers to do more business with you.
3. What percentage of our customers leave us? This is a discussion about your churn rate. How many customers churn out? Ideally, you’re bringing in more new customers than the number you lose. The number is important, and it leads us to the next question.
4. Why did our customers leave us? Sometimes life happens. People move away, pass on or have some other changes in their personal circumstances. They may leave for competitive reasons, such as price or location. (Note: Those weren’t loyal customers. They were just repeat customers.) What you don’t want is to lose customers because you failed them with poor customer service or a bad customer experience. You have control over that. As part of this exercise, consider contacting some customers that you know have “defected” to the competition to find out why.
5. Do we do something specific, or do we have a strategy, that gets customers to come back (versus going elsewhere)? Let’s look at three opportunities. First, some companies have rewards and loyalty programs. That’s a potential incentive when done well. Second, consider what happens at any given interaction between customers and your employees. This is a great setup to my customer loyalty question, which is for anyone who is customer-facing to constantly keep in mind: Is what I’m doing going to make sure the customer comes back the next time they need whatever it is we sell? And third, while the customer loyalty question is situational, think about what you do ongoing, that may be part of your process, that brings your customers back to you. In other words, does your typical CX drive repeat business?
A meeting with discussion around these five questions is a good start and will get you thinking about creating loyalty and rewarding loyalty, but also consider taking time to recognize the employees who may be a big reason why your customers come back. Beyond salespeople, this is anyone who has direct contact with the customer, especially the customer support department, who does much more than just answer questions and manage complaints. Perhaps a better name for them, at least a more meaningful name, might be the customer loyalty department. After all, how they handle those customer interactions is what gets customers to say, “I’ll be back!”
(For more information on Customer Loyalty Month, visit www.CustomerLoyaltyMonth.com.)