A very important leading indicator is your loyal customer base. If it is growing the you can expect your sales to grow too. Peter Ducker said that the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.
Have you included goals for customer loyalty scores in your strategic plan? Creating a customer is done through a clear message and marketing but keeping a customer is based on performance. Don’t spend all your time on marketing for new customers while neglecting your current customers. A loyal current customer is the cheapest and most effective form of marketing.
A company that says it separates itself from others by service usually does not know what that really means. As an example, it seems that most businesses are focusing on customer satisfaction to determine their customer service measurements. This measurement is flawed and often falls short of actionable expectations.
Companies also make a mistake in the method of measuring the voice of their customer. Asking people to write a rating on social media is MARKETING not measurement. Measurement is consistent, private, and asks for the good, the bad, and the ugly. This gives management a dashboard for continuous improvement.
Satisfaction surveys are unable to predict customer behaviors because they are built on faulty foundations. Many organizations assume that high levels of satisfaction translate into customer loyalty when, in fact, customer satisfaction ratings are more closely linked to your customers’ perceptions of your products or service attributes rather than to the value gained by those products or services or your product or service compared to competition. It is all about the perceived value proposition.
Satisfaction is a measurement of, “I expected it and I got it; therefore, I’m satisfied.” If this were translated into a grading system, satisfaction could easily translate into a grade of “C” on any report card. The desired score is obviously an “A” and A’s always equate to loyal customers. A’s imply that customers got more than they expected, and their expectations were exceeded in some way. Based on what is truly important to customers, they received more value from you than from your competitors.
Perceived value as defined by customers (as opposed to being satisfied) creates loyal customer relationships, and customer loyalty is the best predictor of your future strength and growth potential. The value you provide to your customers is always compared to the value your competitors provide; therefore, value is your customers’ perception relative to similar products or services in the marketplace—your competitors!
The best way to create perceived value in the eyes of your customer is to always exceed their expectations.
In summary, create a system to survey every customer on each transaction or service. You will know if you are continuing to exceed expectations and if the measurement starts to fall you can immediately adjust. Loyal customers are your least expensive form of advertising and it can best be summed with the survey question, “How likely are you to recommend or product or service to your friends?”
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