Companies dedicated to delivering the best customer experience cultivate loyal customers and earn high marks in customer satisfaction.
Customer Satisfaction vs. Customer Loyalty
There is a big difference between a customer who is satisfied and one who is loyal. Companies who recognize the importance of delivering the best customer experience understand that cultivating customer loyalty is the key to long term success in business.
To develop a loyal clientèle, companies first must make sure they are satisfied. There is no way a customer who is dissatisfied with your company's products or services will ever become loyal. A satisfied customer is simply an individual who isn't disappointed with the products, services, or treatment he or she received from your company.
Making sure customers are satisfied is vital to success, but it's important to also realize that customer satisfaction isn't enough to set your business apart from its competitors. If your ultimate goal is customer satisfaction, the standards you've set are low. Customer satisfaction should be the minimum standard in customer service, and certainly should not be the extent of your ultimate goal. Satisfied customers might come back to your company the next time they need what you have to offer, but they're also just as likely to visit one of your competitors.
Once you are certain that you've met the minimal standards for customer satisfaction, it's time to take steps to make sure that your customers come back to you every time they need something related to what your company offers. That's what customer loyalty is all about. Loyal customers are those individuals who choose to come back to you time and time again. While satisfaction is an attitude, loyalty is a behavior. Loyal customers are not only satisfied with their past experiences with you, but they will seek you out instead of seeking information or assistance from your competitors.
When building a loyal clientèle, you must go beyond simply making sure that product or service needs are met. While customer satisfaction begins with providing quality products and services which are a good value, loyalty can only occur when you consistently exceed customer needs and expectations.
Understanding Customer Needs and Expectations
The key to delivering the best customer experience lies with understanding the needs and expectations of the people who choose to do business with your company. First and foremost, you must provide quality products or services. When customers come to your business for any type of product or service, they expect to receive value for their money. If the items or ideas that your company markets are not up to standard, this is the first thing you need to change.
It's important to recognize that simply providing customers with the products or services they need is not sufficient for creating an outstanding customer experience. Other than the need to purchase or make use of specific types of goods and services, customers have basic needs and expectations that apply in all types of purchasing situations. Companies that want to be outstanding service providers need to recognize these needs and expectations, and must strive to meet or exceed them at all times.
Basic customer needs and expectations include:
- Enthusiastic service
- Knowledgeable service providers
- Personal recognition
- Prompt attention
- Respectful treatment
- Timely service
It's important to keep these things in mind as you communicate with customers. When you and your employees interact with customers in a respectful manner, you're well on your way to delivering the customer experience that leads to long-term loyalty.
Setting the Stage for Delivering the Best Customer Experience
Delivering exceptional customer service has to start with making sure your employees understand how you expect them to interact with clients. Business owners and managers must lead by example. No matter what you tell your employees about how you want them to act, your own behavior will set the tone for what is considered acceptable inside your company.
The ability to provide outstanding service to external customers begins inside your organization. It's important to recognize that employer-employee and co-worker relationships are internal customer relationships. The best way to make sure your employees are delivering the best customer experience is to treat your internal customers the way you want them to treat your firm's external customers.