Getting to Customer Loyalty

Creating customer loyalty? “Oh yes. I’m all about building relationships.” Until I sell you something and then I’m off doing the next thing, and I forget about you completely, until and unless you call again.

Most people don’t do that on purpose. They don’t set out to ignore you. When somebody buys from you, you want to take care of that person. But in a lot of cases, you fulfill an order. It’s like, “whew, okay, that’s good. Now I’m onto the next thing.” And unless you have systems in place that are designed to keep you in touch, the likelihood that somebody’s going to fall through the cracks is very great.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. Today, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing how you get from obscurity to loyalty in the mind of a new prospect. Welcome back, Jay. Great to have you here.

Jay: Thank you, David. And once again, I’m super excited about this.

How Do You Move from Obscurity to Customer Loyalty?

Jay: I feel like customer loyalty is the holy grail of having a business. But I’m not sure if people know how to get their customers to that point. So I’m very excited. Where do you even start with that? From obscurity to loyalty. How do you begin this process?

David: Yeah, it’s a fun topic because I think again, most people don’t think of it like this. It sort of ties back to what we were talking about last week. But the idea of getting from total obscurity to blind customer loyalty for most people just seems impossible. You know, “how do you do that?”

But if you think about it, one of the things that I normally do, if I’m explaining this to an audience, I’ll draw a target on a flip chart. At the center of the target, the bullseye is blind customer loyalty. This is just loyal. I would never consider doing business with anyone else, but you.

And then, a couple of rings out — outside the circles — you have obscurity, total obscurity. I have no idea who you are. I have no idea that you’re taking in air on the planet. I have no idea why I should do business with you, right?

Intelligent Repetition of Contact

And so you’re not going to get from total obscurity to blind customer loyalty in one step. It’s going to require intelligent repetition of contact, which is something we talked about last time as well. So when you think about it, there are stages you have to go through to get there.

The first step is to move from obscurity, “I don’t know who you are,” to recognition, “Oh, I recognize you.” I recognize that you’re here. I don’t love you. I don’t hate you. I don’t know you well enough to do either of those things. But I recognize that you’re alive. So recognition is that first step.

Jay: Okay.

Moving from Obscurity to Recognition

David: And when we think in terms of communication, the type of communication that you will engage in to let somebody know you’re alive is very different than the type of communication that you’ll engage in to get them to be more loyal to you and to get them to place that first-time order. So that initial step — moving from obscurity to recognition — that’s step one.

Then from recognition, the next thing we have to get it to is some level of comfort. They have to be comfortable enough with you to have additional conversations, to place that first-time order with you. And then once they’re comfortable with you, that first order happens.

From there, if you perform properly, if they place that order, and if you deliver the way you’re supposed to and everything works out well, then they might say, “okay, I’ll give you another chance and we’ll do it again.”

Getting from Recognition to Comfort

At that point, they’re in that comfort ring. They’re in that comfort level. You can operate in the comfort level for quite some time. And if you continue to perform in the comfort level, then eventually you start to move into that bullseye area. You start to move into that area of loyalty where people essentially say “Okay. I’m going to continue to come back to you… unless you mess up.”

Jay: Mm-hmm

David: So now at that point, I’m pretty loyal. I’m kind of loyal. But then if you continue to deliver and you continue to maintain that relationship, then you move closer and closer to the center. And then eventually up right there in the middle where they just wouldn’t consider doing business with anyone else.

Customer Loyalty is the Bullseye

As a visual, I think that’s a great way to go. So they can recognize sort of where they are and where they need to move.

Jay: Yeah. I think you described it perfectly. I also think that it’s maybe easier if, when they’re in the comfort zone, to bounce them out in the wrong direction than to move them into the center.

David: Yeah. Particularly when you don’t realize that this is even happening, right? Because most people don’t think of this, Jay. For most people, “I’m interacting with somebody and we’re having some sort of sales experience.” However it is that you and I got together, I’m working on trying to get this order taken care of for you.

I get that done. It’s delivered. I’m happy. You’re happy. And I’m onto the next thing. I’m not thinking of you in terms of “how comfortable are you with me? How likely are you to place a second order with me? When is that likely to happen?” All of those things.

Being Proactive

David: This also ties back to what we talked about earlier, in a previous podcast, about the whole idea of being proactive and recognizing that yeah, they might come back and place a second time order. But if you’re proactive about maintaining that relationship, they’ll be a lot more likely to do that more quickly.

Jay: Yeah. Very good. So what are some of those steps to move them from that comfort zone into that bullseye?

Cause I got to be honest, you know, I’ve been in business a long time. I’ve never seen people specific about this process. And I think that’s why it’s so important that we’re talking about it. We just kind of think, “Hey, I have a product. I sold it to you. You liked it. Now you’re loyal!”

Customer Loyalty Requires Active Clients

David: Yeah. And a lot of times we don’t even think in terms of who is an active client? Who is a former client? Right? It’s like if you bought from me, you’re a client. Okay. Well, if you bought for me three years ago and you haven’t bought since you might not be a client anymore.

Jay: mm-hmm

David: You might have bought from somebody else in between. I don’t even know it. I’m thinking you’re a client, but you’re actually a former client. So a lot of that really ties into this idea of intelligent repetition of contact.

How can I maintain a relationship? And so things like drip campaigns start to become important. In other words, a series of communications that you can put out to the people who have done business with you in the past, so that you’re in front of them when they’re ready to make another buying decision.

Consistent Communication

Or, depending on your communication, that could encourage them to make another buying decision depending on what that communication is.

But even if it’s something as simple as having an email that goes out — whether it’s once a month or once every couple of weeks — so that you’re staying in front of them with good, solid, useful information that is beneficial to them.

That type of thing is going to keep you top of mind with them rather than “yeah. I bought something from you a long time ago and now I’ve forgotten who you are.”

Jay: Yeah. I love that you said “solid, useful information.” Not just, “Hey, I’ve got a sale. Hey, I’ve got this.”

Get the Email Opened

I feel like if you can give that value-add, they’re going to be more likely to open it in the first place. Because that’s the first thing. Just get them to open the email.

David: Yeah.

Jay: And if they feel like “these guys are sending me free information and it’s actionable.” I feel like that’s a great process.

David: Yeah, it’s really is. And particularly at that comfort level, as we’re talking about. If you’re reasonably comfortable with me because I delivered your first order well. And then you’re getting other things from me that are helpful to you in your day-to-day life, as it relates to my business…

Jay: mm-hmm

David: That’s going to be a positive thing and it can then help plant ideas in your head about other things that we could potentially do together to further your goals and to increase sales on my end as well.

Surveys and Next Steps

Jay: Does sending out surveys, like “tell us how we did,” does that help increase loyalty?

David: Yeah. Surveys are great. And I mean, “tell us how we did” surveys are great. But also just finding out what they might want. In other words, what would they like next? That type of thing. Yeah. Finding out how well you did, but also finding out where they need the most help.

One of my favorite questions, whenever I talk to anybody who could potentially be a prospect is, “where do you need the most help?” And it’s amazing what people come up with.

“Where Do You Need the Most Help?”

Sometimes they come up with things that have no relation to what you’re selling at all. It’s like, “well, I can’t help with that.” But in a lot of cases, just by asking the question, it gets them thinking in terms of what they might need and how you might be able to help them to accomplish their goals.

Jay: Yeah.

David: Cause it’s got to be about them.

Jay: Yeah. And I think that also puts them in a position where you’re helping them instead of them feeling like you’re pushing them towards one thing. And that’s the only reason you’re there and you’re not going to listen to anything else?

Obscurity to Recognition to Comfort to Customer Loyalty

David: Yes. And when you think of it, in terms of these circles — recognition, to comfort, to loyalty — and trying to stay away from obscurity as much as possible…

Jay: Yeah.

David: And you recognize that you’re probably moving. You may be moving toward loyalty, or you may be moving back toward obscurity.

It reinforces the idea that you need to maintain some sort of communication. So the idea of some sort of drip campaign where you’re staying in front of them, is going to keep you out of the obscurity zone.

It’s going to keep you, hopefully, in the comfort zone and move you closer and closer to repeat business and loyalty.

Dealing with Complaints

Jay: Yeah. And then what about customer complaints? Having a system to deal with that.

I feel like sometimes, you know, businesses want to just rush to solve your issue or something. And they don’t look at that as an opportunity to build loyalty.

I’ve always felt like if you have a good system to handle issues, you’re more likely to create loyalty. Even if you’ve made a mistake.

Fixing Mistakes to Build Customer Loyalty

David: Absolutely. Yeah. I remember back when we were selling promotional products to public television stations, we had a client at Maryland Public Television. Great lady… very distinguished voice. She had this British accent and she was a really cool lady. We messed up on an order. She contacted me and she was telling me how we messed up on this order. And I let her know, “okay, we’re going to take care of this for you. I’m sorry this happened. We’re going to get it fixed.” And we got it fixed for her. From that point on, she was the most loyal client we ever had. Because we fixed it correctly.

To address your point, I’ve actually done a training where I outline 10 steps you need to take to resolve customer problems.

Jay: Mm-hmm

David: …and a lot of times people do two of the steps or three of the steps. If you do all 10, you’re going to be a lot more likely to get a good result.

Apologies Are Not Optional

Some people don’t even realize that you need to apologize when there’s a problem.

That’s just one of the steps of the ten. You know, one of the things that you need to do is you want to apologize for the problem. Even if it’s not your fault. It doesn’t matter. You want to apologize for the fact that there’s a problem.

But then there are a whole bunch of other things you can do as well. That’s a subject for another podcast.

Jay: Yeah.

David: We’ll have to put it on the list. We can talk about that another time.

Jay: <laugh> yeah.

Taking Responsibility

David: But it’s critical. It’s absolutely critical to make sure that you’re resolving things in a way where people know that you are taking responsibility.

You’re taking ownership of the problem and you’re going to fix it for them. We can’t always save the order, right? Sometimes there’s going to be an order and there’s a problem and you can’t fix it. But more often than not, you can save the customer. You can have them come back again.

Jay: Yeah. I totally agree. As a consumer, I don’t expect perfection. But if I know that if you mess up, you’re not going to be pointing the finger or downplaying it or evading it, but that you’re going to look me in the face and you’re going to say, “I’m sorry, let me fix it.”

Making it Right

And one thing I love is when they ask the question and you’ve kind of already talked about this, just with the general relationship, I love it when they say to me, “Well, Jay, what can I do to make it right?” You know, and put me back in the driver’s seat.

David: Right. Yeah. And then you hope you can do it. <laugh>

Jay: Yeah. And there are always going to be customers that no matter what you do, no matter how much you bend over backwards, you’re not going to be able to satisfy them.

And with them, to me, you go through your system. You do everything you can and realize you can’t save everybody. But most people I think will respond positively to that.

David: They do. Yes. When you handle things well, they do.

Differentiating Yourself to Increase Loyalty

David: And I think it’s unfortunate that in a lot of situations right now, there are people who don’t do that sort of thing. So when you do it, you differentiate yourself and you can really get a lot of loyalty out of that.

Jay: Yeah. And I do think you need to systemize it. And we’ve talked about this in previous podcasts. Don’t just leave it to chance.

If you have frontline employees that are dealing with an issue, don’t leave it to chance that they’re going to handle it properly. They need to be empowered to make choices, and you need to teach them the steps involved in recovering that client, correct?

Outline the Steps to Customer Loyalty

David: Yes. And actually having the steps in front of them. So that when they’re going through that process: One: I say this. Two: I say this.

Jay: Mmm-hmm

David: And I’m not talking about a script that they read.

Jay: Right.

David: I’m talking about bullet points, where they make sure that they hit each of these points. You’re letting them know that you’re taking ownership of it. It’s not going to be like, “oh yeah, well that’s not my department.”

Nobody can say that sort of thing. You have to make sure that everybody is trained on the idea that, “oh, I’m very sorry that happened. Let me take care of this for you.”

So those are two of the steps. “Sorry it happened.” And “let me take care of this for you.”

Positioning a Problem

Another one would be positioning. “This is very unusual,” right? Cause if you say, “oh yeah, we get that all the time, you have to talk to somebody else about it,” that’s about the worst thing you can do.

So a lot of these things, when you hear them, it makes perfect sense. And if you reverse them, you can realize how necessary each of the steps are.

Jay: Absolutely. What other thoughts, what other things can they do to push people to the center of that target?

David: Well, as you indicated, I think a lot of this happens in the early part of the comfort stage. And just in the comfort stage in general.

Proving Yourself Each Step of the Way

Because until you get to and until you start tipping into that loyalty area, you’re really proving yourself at every interaction. Every communication, every phone call, every email, every sale, you are proving yourself a little more and you’re working closer and closer and closer to move inside to that center of the target.

So I think a lot of it is really recognizing that this is what’s happening. Recognizing that you’re either moving toward the center or away from the center, depending on what you’re doing or what you’re not doing. Right? The “sins of omission.”

Doing Nothing is Not Neutral

If I’m not taking action on the things that I should be taking action on, that’s going to be harming us. Recognizing that if you’re doing nothing, that’s not neutral, that’s negative.

And just approaching it from the standpoint of recognizing that we’re there to help these people. And so, as long as we’re there communicating that — that we’re here to help them and we want to do whatever we can to make that happen — then it’s not going to get old. Right?

Most people appreciate that. If it’s “buy from me, buy from me, buy from me,” that gets old very quickly.

Jay: Mm-hmm

Building the Relationship

David: But when you’re finding out how you can help, what they’re looking for next and that sort of thing, it just really helps to move the needle in the right direction.

Jay: Yeah. And the word relationship really jumps into my mind as we talk about this.

David: Yeah. And it’s easy to say, right? The whole idea of relationship. “Oh yes. I’m all building relationships.” Until I sell you something and then I’m off doing the next thing, and I forget about you completely, until and unless you call again.

Most people don’t do that on purpose. They don’t set out to ignore you.

The System is the Solution

When somebody buys from you, you want to take care of that person. But in a lot of cases, you fulfill an order. It’s like, “whew, okay, that’s good. Now I’m onto the next thing.” And unless you have systems in place that are designed to keep you in touch, the likelihood that somebody’s going to fall through the cracks is very great.

When you get those systems in place, the likelihood that somebody falls through the cracks essentially goes to zero, because your system ensures that you’re in touch.

Jay: Absolutely. I’ll tell you what I want is to be able to develop a product like Apple. Nobody’s touched it. Nobody’s seen it. And there’s a line out the door for the thing. And nobody’s seen it yet, but they’re ready…

David: Right.

Jay: …to buy. I mean, that to me is the ideal picture of customer loyalty.

David: It is. I mean, they’re at the center of the target now.

Jay: mm-hmm

Even Apple Didn’t Create Customer Loyalty Immediately

David: But they didn’t get there immediately. At first, they had to see some sort of product years ago that they’re like, “What is this? What’s this iPod? What is this thing? It’s a jukebox that fits in my pocket? What is this thing?”

And then you get it. And you’re like, “wow, this is really cool.” And then they say, “well, now we’ve got a smaller one.” It’s like, “okay, I want that one.” “Now we’ve got it in a phone.” “Ooh, nice!” Right? “Now the phone is smaller.  Now it’s iPhone X.”

So each iteration people are like, “okay, the last thing was cool. This is supposed to be cooler. I think I’ll buy it.”

And most businesses, particularly small businesses, particularly the type of people that we tend to interact with, don’t have that level of loyalty. Because we don’t have hundreds of product developers who are working to make everything that we do better and better and better every day.

Customer Loyalty is Even More Important for Us

But what we do have is the realization that this is about those relationships. It is about “how can I make these relationships better and better and better with each communication I have?”

So that’s the type of thing that you can replicate and you should replicate. Because it’s going to be more important for businesses like us than it is for a company like Apple.

Jay: Right. Absolutely. I realize that’s like the gold standard, right?

David: Yeah.

Jay: Yeah. So how do people find out more about this important topic?

David: Okay. Well, you can find out more about us at TopSecrets.com. That’s TopSecrets.com. If you want more information, our phone number is on there, our email is on there, you can give us a call or reach out.

Jay: And keep staying tuned to the podcast. Because we’ve got more actionable information coming up.

David: Absolutely.

Jay: All right. Thank you so much, David.

David: Thank you, Jay.

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    2 replies to "Creating Customer Loyalty"

    • george swaggard

      customer loyalty is the name of the game.

      • David Blaise

        I agree completely, George!

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