Customer loyalty is about getting the customer to come back next time through excellent customer service and to make next time, every time.
That’s according to customer service expert Shep Hyken, the author of many books on customer service, including “Be Amazing or Go Home.”
“Our customers are smarter than ever before and they recognize what great service is because they’ve had it at many different companies,” he says.
More than ever, consumers are willing to keep shopping for the best experiences, even if that means switching companies and services often.
An industry report on “serial switchers” shows 67 percent of consumers are willing to switch brands due to poor customer experience. That’s up 37 percent since the same report two years earlier. All that switching costs businesses about $75 billion a year.
Hyken encourages businesses to create an amazing customer service experience for their buyers. If they don’t do that, their customers will move on to find a company that will meet their needs.
He says these days, consumers not only compare a business to the competitor, but also to the best customer service they ever had from any other company or service provider.
“Think about that: are we as good as whoever was the best we’ve ever done business with?” says Hyken. “That’s how good we need to be striving to be.”
Smart businesses focus on continually creating positive experiences so buyers come back the next time they need the product or service being sold.
“Consistency is one of the biggest drivers of a good experience,” says Hyken, who’s a professional speaker on customer service. “It’s got to be positive consistency.”
Hyken says clients need to be able to say the business is always friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Companies should constantly develop better customer experiences. For example, he says Amazon is consistently convenient for consumers because it has good prices and makes it easy to order.
Nowadays, consumers dealing with a company expect to interact with technology such as online ordering, video tutorials, and FAQs. For example, when Hyken bought a ping-pong table online, he didn’t know how to assemble it and he couldn’t understand the instructions, which were in German. So he looked online and found a video tutorial from the company showing someone building the table.
Still, while consumers love using technology to buy products and manage services, they also need to know they can talk to a person, if needed.
“You can still use digital technology to create a good connection, but recognize if it becomes all digital, that’s great until it doesn’t work anymore,” says Hyken. “Then you frustrate the customer; they have nowhere else to go but to move on.”
He praises shoe company Zappos.com, which provides a phone number on their website so shoppers can call to ask questions.
In a social media era, it’s essential for businesses to manage customer feedback, particularly online reviews, in a timely manner.
“They like to know their opinion is being heard,” says Hyken. “If somebody goes online and leaves a review – good or bad – there’s always a response.”
He advises companies to respond to negative comments immediately, explaining frustrated customers want to feel heard and appreciated.
Overall, companies need to create a positive expertise at every interaction.
“We’ve got always be better than average, better than satisfactory,” says Hyken. “If we are consistently and predictably better than average, then we’re going to be scoring high with our customers and they’re going to want to come back.”