Customer Loyalty as a Competitive Edge

written on December 19, 2007 by Roxanne Kaufman

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"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends."  Walt Disney

Customer relationship management is powerful in theory, but troubled in practice.  Your customer may always be right, your customer service may be impeccable, and... your profits may be falling.  Most CEOs hope a stronger focus on customers will protect them from eroding profit margins and commoditization.  But getting closer to customers is not a matter of installing better CRM systems, customer service or simply measuring satisfaction levels.

It's a matter of developing Customer Loyalty.  It's about the fundamental elements of developing and sustaining good customer relationships based on an  emotional connection and trust.  "Satisfaction is no longer the acceptable measurement of Customer service success.  The standard and measure of success in this millennium are loyal Customers."  Jeffrey Gitomer, Author, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless: Customer Loyalty is Priceless.  Gallup research (3/13/03) concludes that no matter how satisfied an organization thinks its customers are - if they have not made an emotional connection with their Customers to develop a long-term relationship - satisfaction will ultimately be worthless.  Satisfaction alone does not build a strong or loyal Customer relationship. Building Customer loyalty is a strategy. 

A strategy that can and will separate your organization from the competition.  It has been proven that organizations with high levels of loyal customers typically grow revenues at the twice the rate of the competition.  However, the successful implementation of a competitive Customer Loyalty strategy must be aligned with an organizational culture that is devoted to valuing both internal and external customers - and delivering on the "promise'.  When a customer's experience is not reflective of what has been advertised, promised or expected, trust in the organization is undermined and lost revenue is the result.  There is an urgent need to create strong relationships through frequent "points of connection', and the delivery of unique service experiences - as expected and promised by the organization's marketing, advertising and message. 

The immediate impact of delivering an exceptional customer experience, based on what is promised, is a winning combination and a powerful competitive advantage. "Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.  It is what the client or Customer gets out of it."  Peter Drucker.  Think about your Customer Relationship Management as a Customer Loyalty program - for both your internal and external Customers. 

  • Establish trust at every point of connection. 
  • Create an emotional tie at every point of connection.   
  • Build your empathy skills to strengthen Customer Relationships. 
  • Always put your Customer's interests and needs first. 
  • Be yourself.
  • Let your individual strengths and personality shine.
  • Give your full and undivided attention.
  •  Be knowledgeable and honest about your products and services.
  • Only promise what you and your organization can deliver. And then exceed it.
  • Pay attention to every detail. 
  • Deal with upsets immediately and resolve them.  Many times, trust is created by the way a mistake is handled, not by the mistake itself.