Do you have loyal customers? If you said yes, I would ask, how do you know? Is it because they keep coming back? If that’s the case, I would call them repeat customers. To know if they are truly loyal customers requires a little more understanding.
I’m not trying to be discouraging, but it’s important to understand that repeat customers are not necessarily loyal customers. Don’t get me wrong, I love repeat customers. We absolutely want them. You should do everything you can to get customers to come back. I write about this in my latest book, I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again. However, as I explain in the book, there is a difference between repeat customers and loyal customers. The key is in understanding why they keep coming back.
Let’s say you own a retail store. There are a variety of reasons customers might come back. Maybe you are conveniently located. Maybe they come back because you have the lowest prices in your area. These customers may simply be loyal to location and price, not to your business. And if that’s the case, what happens if a competitor offers a lower price? Or opens a store in a more convenient location? You risk losing that customer.
However, if your customers feel some sort of emotional connection to your business, or your people or your product, that is what drives loyalty. Maybe they love your unique merchandise. Maybe they love your salespeople. Perhaps there is a cause or charity you support. These are reasons that customers could be emotionally connected to you and keep coming back – even if another company offers lower prices or a more convenient location.
So, ask yourself why your customers keep coming back. Do you have that emotional connection that drives loyalty to your business? If you think it might be something else, work on ways to make a connection that will move that customer from just being a repeat customer to loyalty.
And, while customer loyalty is considered the “holy grail,” there is nothing wrong with going for repeat business. I like to refer to repeat customers as gold and loyal customers as sacred. Once your customer starts coming back, you must understand why. If it’s for a superficial reason such as price, aim for a deeper connection. Make sure they come back the next time for reasons that will keep them from leaving you for your competition.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.