Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Most businesses believe that a satisfied customer is also a loyal customer. That is not always the case, as your customer can be satisfied and not loyal to your business. Satisfaction is an emotion while loyalty is related to a future action taken by the customer.

Building satisfied and loyal customers require:

  • Keeping customers engaged in the salesprocess
  • Educating customers on why they should choose you over your competition
  • Knowing the unique needs of your customers and satisfying those needs

Not every customer is destined to be a life-long customer— but if you follow the tactics above, both you and your customer will be set up for a happy and productive relationship.

Understanding your customer loyalty level.

  • Satisfied but disloyal customers: A customer can be fully satisfied but may not be loyal due to following reasons:
    • Experimental Customer. These types of customers like to experiment and enjoy the option of diverging in other available businesses in the market.
    • Price Shopper. These customers are happy with your product or service but will only use your service until they are comfortable in duplicating your results at a lower price.
    • Business Growth. These customers may feel that your methods or product and services are outdated, and will go to a different business that markets having and using the latest trends and technology to grow with the customer’s goals.
  • Unsatisfied but loyal customers: The other situation is when the customer is loyal but is unsatisfied. The reasons for this are:
    • Lack of available options: This situation can arise if your business does not offer products or services offered by competitors or when your business offers an inferior service.
    • Emotionally connected: There are some customers who are afraid to change their supplier because of an emotional business attachment or bonding. The customer may feel that it would be best to try and fix an unsatisfied situation rather than start new.

For your business to be successful, it is important for you to gain customer loyalty. While satisfaction may not guarantee loyalty, it is a prerequisite.

Customer Satisfaction

According to a study of 362 marketing agencies, 95% of the agencies believed they placed a priority on the needs of their customers. Additionally, 80% believed they delivered a superior customer experience. While businesses may believe they place a priority on customer services, the same study found that only 8% of customers agreed that these businesses prioritized customer service.[1]

The relationship between businesses and customers are often one-sided. Where businesses may only see customers as numbers, customers want to be seen as individuals. Creating genuine customer experiences are about providing a unique value, surpassing expectations, engaging customers, and remaining honest.

Successful businesses find ways to satisfy and build customer relationships, as they should. Customers are spending their money to partner and invest with your business. They are your brand ambassadors who will promote your business to their friends and family. You should make it a priority to satisfy their needs and concerns. You can help your business get ahead if you can master the art of customer relationships and build loyal followers.

 

[1] “Tuning In to the Voice of Your Customer,” Harvard Management Update, Vol. 10, No. 10, October 2005.

Brand Evangelists

A happy customer is likely to tell their friends and family of the service they received. Creating brand evangelists doesn’t necessarily involve rewarding the customer with free products or services. The best method for building loyalty and creating brand evangelists is by letting the customer know that they are appreciated as a customer and that you enjoy referrals.

Satisfied customers are also likely to spread the word through social media about the service they received from your company without being asked. If they are happy, they will likely tell everyone why they are. Customer satisfaction goes a long way when creating brand evangelists. You can identify a brand evangelist by joining and staying current with social networks and watching for your business name to be mentioned on those networks. Another great opportunity for building evangelists is to get involved with customers online by incorporating widgets into your company website. These widgets can be used to allow for site visitors to communicate their thoughts and share them on their favorite social networking websites with the click of a button.

Organization Change in Business

Drivers of organizational change. 

When trying to influence organizational change, you have to first understand why you are trying to influence it. Some good reasons are social influence or responding to an action (Marsden and Friedkin, 1993), sustaining a healthy environment (Newman, 2012), improving understanding, or simply trying to remain relevant to the industry or consumer.

As an entrepreneur, I always find myself having to create organizational change every few years. As technology advances, so must I and my business. In determining whether or not it is time for a change, we look at factors such as a drop in sales, website traffic, or lack of consumer interest. Even without those negative impacts, we must still create change so that we can remain above change. A majority of the changes we make consist around guesswork and market predictions. Sometimes it plays out well and we remain on top or within the industry’s new standards, or we make the wrong decision and are stuck trying to catch-up with the market.

What I have found to be my most effective reason for change is listening to the consumer. We must make it a priority to hear their desires, compliments and complaints. Focus on what they like, what they want more of, and what they want less of. Even if the industry is headed in one direct and the consumer in another, I have found that following the consumer’s change request is more beneficial to the organization. 

Fortunately, most of my business is done online and through websites. Technology has easily allowed my company the opportunity to test the reactions of the customers toward the changes. Because of a majority of the business being done online, there are a multitude of tools that we use to track their reactions as they navigate throughout the web pages. Positive reactions create positive sales, and negative reactions create negative sales.

Organizational change should always be driving in a forward direction, else it’s going backward or is standing still. Neither or which is good for long-term business success.

The keys to successful organizational change. 

Successful organizational change begins with making sure that change is a priority. Being able to implement and continually set goals will prepare for course correction. These goals should include strategic planning along with setting deadlines and leadership roles (Newman, 2012).

My most successful changes have come from simply asking the consumer what they thought of the changes and whether or not they were needed. Survey’s, rewards, and discounts are a great incentive for the consumer and an opportunity for me to hear directly from the persons who the changes are being made for. In the beginning of my career, I would spend weeks or months trying to guess what the consumer wanted and it wasn’t until I decided to ask them, that I was able to implement the most affective changes. 

In order to get to that point of being able to listen to the consumer, I had to research, study, test, analyze and be open to understanding their wants. What I concluded was that organizational change is never going to satisfy everyone. If I tested too much, I would only get more confused by the multitude of reactions and suggestions. Change is only a piece of the solution. What’s equally as important is persuasion of public convincing (Battliana and Casciaro, 2012).

If the leader successfully sustains and oversees the process, the result will be a functional and sustainable transformation of the organization.

Credits

Battliana, J., & Casciaro, T. (2012). Change agents, networks, and institutions: A contingency theory of organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2), 381-398.

Marsden, P. V., & Friedkin, N. E. 1993. Network studies of social influence. Sociological Methods and Research, 22: 127–151.

Newman, J. (2012). An organizationally change management framework for sustainability.Greener Management International, 57, 65-75.

Staying Competitive

Businesses lose customers for various reasons. I once lost a long-time customer of over 8 years, finding out only after realizing I was locked out of their hosting account. These things happen, and they happen for several reasons, but mostly, customers discontinue business because they feel they aren’t satisfied with current results.

A competitor swooping in at a local event and making new promises becomes an easily tempting proposition for your customer who hasn’t heard from you in a while. Just think, if you aren’t providing for your customer someone else will. Just as in personal dating relationships, if you don’t show interest and pay attention, there is always someone else waiting to take your place.

Customers can also easily be attracted to another business who simply excites them because that business presents something new and different. Nearly every year, businesses and customers will want to change how they do business. They will have new resolutions, new plans, and new strategies for success, and they will want to partner with a company or individual just as excited to fulfill their goals and take their business to the next level. During this time, you can’t simply offer the same products or services that you have always offered.

Generally, throughout the year, or at least once a year, you should make certain that you introduce or update your customers on new services and offerings. At the end of the year, your customers will be speaking with family and friends during the holidays. Those family and friends will offer business references, discuss new trends, or may even offer to do the work themselves for a lower price. Customers will also be attending local business events and parties, and everyone at these events will have a million ways of convincing your customer that there is a better and cheaper solution for them.

Building Value and Retention

here are plenty of products and services on the market from which your customers could choose to make their purchases. Customers that select your business to purchase goods or services do so because of their overall perceived value of your business. Consequently, your business must produce value that connects to, and positively influences, the customer’s perception. If the customer has a positive perception of your business, they are more likely to make a purchase and promote your services or product, which can translate into future sales.

Like most businesses, I assume that the goal of your marketing strategy is to generate profit and brand awareness; which means it has to identify the right type of customer. From a marketing perspective, there is no better customer than a repeat customer. Considering the cost of maintaining repeat customers is less than gaining new customers, the additional revenue could be used for increasing your business’s competitive advantage. Consequently, building customer satisfaction and loyalty are paramount for retaining customers and increasing revenue.

Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations

Most 5-star hotels maintain customer databases detailing the room order choices of their guests. If a guest has asked for a particular beverage to be kept in the mini bar, the next time that guest makes a reservation at the hotel the staff ensures that the beverage is stocked in the room. Such small gestures go a long way in making customers feel important.

It is necessary to interact and communicate with customers on a regular basis if you wish to increase the satisfaction of your customers. In these interactions, it is required to determine the customer’s needs and then act to satisfy those needs accordingly. Even if you offer identical products within a competing market, satisfaction provides high customer retention rates. It’s no secret that retailers offer frequent shopper rewards to increase customer satisfaction. Retailers do this for a reason— because it’s a no brainer if you want customers to come back. Many high-end retailers also provide membership cards and discount benefits so that the customer remains loyal to their business.

Earning a Degree Online

What really creates an online environment to work is the ability to have students who are capable to make it work. What makes onlinelearning successful is that the computer is also becoming successful as many more households are able to own a computer at an affordable price, businesses make mandatory use of it and the Internet continues to grow within every community and within every age and sex group.

When I first starting to take online courses five years ago, the structure of the classroom was drastically different. The one school that I attended has transformed three times since then to adjust to the growing popularity.  At first, online classrooms were somewhat like that of an online forum. As the Internet grew and continues to grow, it is becoming more reliable and trustworthy enough to find information that is beneficial in online learning.

Online learning is only successful because of the many things that it is made up of. Without a savvy user, the Internet, affordable computers and their ease of use, and the growing number a great web developers and programmers, Online learning wouldn’t exist is such the mass that it does.

Reasons that many students have turned to online learning range from;

  • Convenience
  • Better school options
  • Affordability of school and software
  • Accredited faculties
  • Effective learning

Being able to earn a degree from a great school from anywhere around the world, is something that many could only dream of before there was online learning. Not only is distant learning effective, but it is also accepted by society. Without that validity, online learning wouldn’t have succeeded as it has.

Customer Perception

Customer perception is a significant predictor of customer purchasing outcomes. The customer’s perception of your purchasing processes can influence your business’s reputation and sales. Customers with a positive perception of your business will likely react differently to reviews posted by previous customers compared to customers that do not have a positive perception.

Value Perception. As a business, you should seek to position positive product knowledge at the beginning of your customers’ journey. While attempting to examine the relationship between customer uncertainty reduction and value perception, I found that customer uncertainty about a business influenced the overall value perception of the selected businesses. To reduce the concern of potential customer uncertainty, your business should publicly display reviews and testimonials to assist in improving the value perception of your business.

Customer Profiling

Customer profiling is a behavioral relationship marketing technique which involves a variety of marketing strategies ranging from simplistic to complex. Customer profiling begins with the identification of data associated with satisfied existing customers and then uses that data as a basis to target new prospects with similar profiles. The profiles of customers can be categorized in multiple ways according to influential variables present in their profile.

Profiling consists of determining the characteristics and demographics of customers. Identifying demographic profiles of current customers may help your business strategize ways to attract new customers and generate higher revenue through targeted marketing strategies. To gather demographic information from existing customers, your business should track sales data and other customer related information to help determine the ideal customer for your business.

Customers have unique preferences and needs and segmenting allows for managing customers based on their individual or grouped characteristics. Invalid segmenting could produce dissatisfied customers. Customer profiling should be the basis of your segmenting strategy and has proved to be the most useful strategy in customer acquisition.

Cultural Uniformity. Although it is rarely discussed in smaller businesses, analyzing the cultural differences between your customers can help in developing targeted marketing strategies. Cultural differences naturally exist and can greatly influence your marketing. Cultural differences may include customer locations, beliefs and cultural norms, lifestyle, income, and many other psychographic and demographic parameters. Additionally, it is important to consider online customers and the environment and culture of your website visitors as they often have a wider reach than brick-and-mortar locations. No matter the location, you may have to acknowledge cultural differences if you decide to change the way you do business, or if you plan to expand online, or to another region.

The targeted customer for your business was likely determined by who your business would like to attract. You should target your marketing efforts toward those individuals and businesses who would most likely utilize your products or services. If you want all customers and ethnicities to purchase services from your company, you may need to analyze your marketing strategy and determine how to make it attractive for all groups and cultures. The best method to understanding your customers is to conduct marketing research, which is discussed later within this book.

Your online brand is your resume

Internet Marketing

The reason that you as a business owner needs to market is because while you may have a great website or graphic design piece, without placing this work within your potential customers’ reach, you are losing business.

Here is how it works. Think of your website or art work as a resume. With this resume, you spend hours or days writing it up to perfection and years building it through experience and education. After you’ve gotten your resume to perfection, what next? What’s the next step to making sure that you land that dream job? The answer is marketing. You have to market yourself to gain the employer.

A bad resume with good marketing has a better chance of landing the employer, than a good resume with no marketing. Without marketing, you’ve just wasted years on creating a great resume for no reason at all.

Types of Customers

Customers play a significant role in the success or failure of your business. In fact, the customer is the actual boss in all dealings and responsible for profits generated for your business. The customer is the one who uses the products and services and judges the quality of those products and services. Hence, it’s important for your business to prioritize and retain former customers as well as continually gain new customers to sustain and grow the business. A strategy to gain new customers includes segmenting your current customers into groups which will help determine how to satisfy and attract your desired customer group.

Your segmenting strategy should also take into account:

  • Age group of the customers
  • Geographical location
  • Lifestyle of customers
  • Social status of customers

Targeting the Right Customers

All customers fall within select groups, and it is your responsibility to know which group that is. It is also essential to know if you are reaching your desired targeted group(s). For example, funky designs and loud colors would be a hit among teenagers, whereas middle aged and the elderly would prefer subtle colors and sophisticated designs. Suits and khakis are extremely popular amongst men, whereas females prefer blazers and blouses. Know your target groups and plan accordingly.

Customers are often of the following types:

Loyal Customers. These customers may be less in number but promote higher sales and profit as compared to other customers. These customers are generally satisfied with your product or service and desire consistency and reliability. Loyal customers often require individual attention and rewards that demand quality customer service.

Discount Customers. Discount customers are also frequent visitors but they usually only make purchases when offered discounts on regular products and brands or buy only low-cost products. The greater the discount, the more likely this customer is to purchase.

Impulsive Customers. These customers are difficult to market to as they don’t have any specific item on their purchase list. Handling these customers is a challenge as they don’t look for particular products and are attracted to businesses that have many options to choose from with products and prices on display.

Wandering Customers. These customers are likely to generate the least profit as they are not sure of what they want to purchase or if they want to purchase. Additionally, these customers don’t usually have the finances available to make a purchase but may purchase at a later date dependent on whether they are still interested and have not found a better value elsewhere.

As you can see in the explanations above, loyal and repeat customers are ideal for most businesses. Nonetheless, it is necessary for you to study the behaviors of customers in your chosen demographic before connecting with them as it will help you to identify specific customer needs and respond accordingly. By identifying the behaviors of customers, you can easily create targeted strategies to attract and satisfy their wants and needs.

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