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We all know customer satisfaction is more important than ever to building customer loyalty and increasing retention, so it's fascinating to watch some customers display unwavering loyalty, no matter what their favorites brands do. Take the Chipotle food poisoning outbreak for example; after briefly falling from darling status, Chipotle is already setting the stage for a multi-year comeback with their “Better Burger”. And remember when Amazon raised the price of Prime Membership from $79 to $99 annually? We fussed, we complained on social media, but then we renewed anyways. With these examples in mind, here are four guiding principles your organization can use to build that kind of customer loyalty and prevent attrition.

Don't Assume Your Customers Are Loyal. Work For It.

Most brands have to work much harder to build up that Chipotle-type loyalty. In fact, research shows the percentage of customers willing to immediately abandon a business reached nearly 70% when it came to poor service over the phone, conclusively showing that customers are willing to shut you out if you don’t provide the quality of service they expect. The worst part is that you may not even know the impact this poor quality of service is having on your business. Which customers are leaving? What causes them to go? While most businesses assume customers leave because of the product or service, the reality is that nearly 70% of customers who left a company said it wasn’t due to bad products, but poor customer experience.

Keeping Attrition at Bay: Four Guiding Principles for Building Customer Loyalty

What’s the magic that makes customers loyal to brands? One consideration is that people aren’t buying a product or service; they’re buying comfort, familiarity, hope and a perceived promise. Follow these four guiding principles to build positive and long lasting customer experiences:

#1: Respect - Provide Caring and Individual Attention to Every Customer

Customers are more loyal to those companies that are easy to interact with, create enjoyable experiences, and treat them respectfully—regardless of the communication channel. It’s no longer about creating the least expensive option for customers, as many are willing to pay more for a product or service if they feel an emotional connection with a company.

  • Treat every customer as a unique individual
  • Make every interaction positive and memorable
  • Provide prompt, courteous attention when your organization has caused a problem for a customer

#2: Simplicity - Manage Invisible Behind-the-Scenes Issues and Activities

Customers don’t want to talk with numerous people or worry about service details. Companies are supposed to be accurate and dependable and provide the service promised in their service level agreements (SLA's). To manage expectations, first start with managing promises.

  • Present policies and options to customers in the best possible light
  • Take ownership of solving a customer’s problem
  • Support struggling co-workers to improve the customer’s experience 

#3: Solutions - Provide an Honest Effort to Solve or Help Customers Solve Their Problems

Customers want a flexible approach to service, and they expect you to meet and handle their needs in prompt and creative ways. In the past, it would be easy to say, “I’m sorry, it’s policy” in response to a customer compliant. Well, that answer does not work anymore, as today’s customers will simply take their business elsewhere.

  • Work creatively to resolve a customer’s problem
  • Anticipate needs that customers may not have considered
  • Use all available resources to achieve the best possible outcomes for your customers 

#4: Responsibility - Deliver What Was Promised, Dependably and Accurately

Customers want to feel they’re in capable hands and that promises will be kept. They want things to be right the first time. Should something go wrong, customers expect a quick and thorough recovery.

  • Pay attention to details that customers care about
  • Follow up to make sure customers are happy with solutions you’ve provided
  • Assure customers that their needs will be met

The Bottom Line

Customer loyalty starts with showing your customers how valuable they are to your business in every interaction they have with your brand. By following these four guiding principles, you may experience a dramatic increase in customer retention, customer loyalty and Net Promoter Scores.

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Donna Walker

About Author Donna Walker

Donna Walker is the VP of Customer Experience Solutions at MHI Global, recognized as the authority in customer service, technical support, and telesales training. Donna has assumed the sales leadership and operational responsibilities for guiding the development and delivery of customer service, telephone sales, and field service training and consulting. Donna brings vast knowledge and expertise to this role, with more than 20 years of business experience and a strong track record of performance. MHI Global is a TSIA Program Alliance Partner.