DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
CULTIVATE CUSTOMER LOYALTY
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2006
The holiday season is a great time to reflect upon customer relations. Business owners and staff feel upbeat during the holidays, and typically do creative things to put a smile on the faces of their customers. Many decorate their offices and set out plenty of goodies. Some dress festively, creating a lively atmosphere throughout the business establishment. All this serves to make the customer feel welcomed and joyful, and engenders good feelings about doing business there. Anytime your customers leave feeling better than when they came in, the greater the likelihood they will return to do business with you again. But don’t confine your efforts to the holiday season. Cultivate customer loyalty year-round.
Nurture Repeat Business
Many businesses put all their attention on attracting new clients and forget about their existing customer base. Practitioners are particularly prone to focus on getting new referrals, assuming that patients who don’t return for another visit on their own never will. This is probably a faulty assumption and, at the very least, deserves some time and effort to determine if it’s true. Follow-up. Find out if there were any problems – and fix them. But, it’s not always about customer satisfaction. Many clients feel quite satisfied with the visit(s) they had, but fail to identify a sufficient reason to return. Remind them that you’re there and how you can be of service. Give them a reason to return. Thank them for their business. Sometimes customers go elsewhere because the business doesn’t cultivate feelings that engender loyalty to it. The cost of reaching out to your existing and inactive clientele is well worth the effort and is likely to be much less than you’re spending on trying to attract new business. Indeed, customers who are loyal to you and your practice will save you plenty because they spread the good word about you to their family and friends better than you ever could.
Make Your Office “Experience” Special
Why should someone do business with you? What’s so special about your office? What about the “experience” would make one want to return again? It’s a given that you’re a competent professional who knows what you’re doing. But what about the rest of the “experience”? Are you and your staff accessible or does digital voice mail and a litany of directory instructions rule in your business? If you run a solo business you may have no choice, but be mindful of the barriers and do your best to make sure that you’re not giving the impression that you just don’t want to be bothered. People understand that you’re busy and can’t be available at all times, but don’t like dealing with these barriers, particularly if you have support staffing. They express a reasonable concern that “If they’re too busy to take my calls, are they too busy to give me the quality of service I deserve?” Try to connect directly as much as possible so that you build a relationship that will last.
And how about your office environment? Is it inviting and comfortable? Does it match the image you’re promoting in the community? Even if you work at home, be mindful of the ways in which your office extends to the customer and whether it creates the good feelings about your business that it should. And how about the quality of interest shown in the client as a person beyond the current matter you are addressing? Is the “experience” over once this matter is handled or is there follow-up to determine the helpfulness of the service provided? What helps the customer decide when to return? Don’t leave these issues to chance.
Train Your Team
While you are the main reason a customer returns to your business, the quality of treatment by your staff will affect this decision, too. A sour puss on the face of the receptionist will diminish the positive nature of the “experience”, as will chatter about personal problems or inner-office discord that is overheard during the visit. Failure to address the patient by name or to remember their special needs can cause you and your staff to appear impersonal and indifferent. Lack of respect for the value of your client’s time is an affront and rouses resentment. All this reflects negatively on the business – making it very easy for the customer to request a new referral and to try a new business the next time. Feelings of trust and confidence in your business require a team effort and are essential to building bonds of loyalty. Employees must understand that they, too, influence whether customers choose to return to your business and need to make sure that the customer’s experience is positive and uplifting, not a drag.
Customer loyalty takes work. Businesses make a mistake when they assume that return visits are the result of serendipity. Being sufficiently impressed with your establishment and staff makes the difference between simply being satisfied and being eager to come back again. Today’s customers have lots of choices and it’s up to you to make sure that their choice is You!
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at http://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
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