Add me to mailing list    |           |      Search

Sales Make it Happen

Building Customer Loyalty

Building and promoting customer loyalty in highly competitive industries, like equipment financing, is no walk in the park. What worked yesterday, from advertising to the strength of personal relationships, is no longer sufficient in gaining customer loyalty.

First, we need get real about the current perception of loyalty in business. Employees no longer expect or want to remain employed by one company for their entire careers, and employers manage their enterprises expecting an ever increasing annual churn in their personnel.

So, maybe working for a company for three or four years, or retaining employees for a like period of time, is, for many employees and companies, “success” in today’s world. Someone recently said, “I’d rather have a star performer for three or four years than an underperformer for a career!” Maybe we should view customers through the same lens. Few would disagree that it would be better to have a short-term, profitable customer than a long-term, unprofitable one.

Even though customer loyalty may last only a few short years, the same components drive loyalty today as they did in the past. Consistency, predictability, and reliability all contribute to customer loyalty. When your customers can predict with confidence that they can rely on you for consistent delivery of excellent service, they are less likely to jump onto the ship of another supplier or provider. Unless another supplier provides dramatically lower costs or pricing, why would loyal customers abandon certainty for uncertainty?

While consistency, predictability and reliability are contributors to customer loyalty, there is something else you can do to sustain loyalty for as long as possible. You can become a “knowledge broker.” Do you have specialized knowledge, perhaps a unique perspective you can share with your customers? Could this knowledge or perspective make your customers smarter? Could they leverage this knowledge to satisfy business or personal wants or needs?

No one wants to lose directions to the location of a valuable oracle. Once you are perceived as a knowledge broker by your customers, instead of a salesperson who simply runs with the herd, your customers are not likely to abandon you without some compelling reason. Customer loyalty may not be as long-lived today as in the past, but it is still a worthwhile pursuit for the professional salesperson.

--- from the desk of a retired, successful leasing company president.