BUSINESS MARKETING: Golden handcuffs

2014-03-22T11:00:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: Golden handcuffsLarry Galler Times Business Columnist
March 22, 2014 11:00 am  • 

It’s happened yet again. I was told that old, sad story of the loyal customer who suddenly became disloyal.

The customer started buying from someone else by a dumbfounded business owner who said, “there is no such thing as customer loyalty any more.” I don’t believe it.

But I was curious and asked to hear more about this lost customer and what the business had done to make the customer loyal.

“We did everything the customer asked for. We did it right. We did it on time,” the business owner said.

“Well, that seems like you did everything the customer expected. Did the customer do what you expected – pay you within terms? If so, at least in theory, you are even and you haven’t really earned loyalty. Both you and the customer got what was expected in the transaction," I said. "What did you then do to earn the loyalty you desire? Did you follow-up after the sale to see if the customer was satisfied or even delighted? Did you offer the customer something extra on their next purchase? Did you keep in touch with them in an ongoing fashion so they won’t forget you?”

So I got on my soapbox and started lecturing. “Just because you did what your customer expected doesn’t earn any loyalty points. They are paying you to meet their expectations but you have to do more than that if you want to earn loyalty.

"You have to delight them, do something more for them, remind them of what you did for them, and you have to do it often or they will be attracted by your competitors who will offer them more just to steal them away from you. So it is up to you to attach some 'golden handcuffs' on your customers by convincing them that they can’t get what you sell any place else and by communicating with them often to reinforce your loyalty to them."

If you create a “golden handcuff” relationship it will be much harder for a competitor to replace you, because your customer will know you will do more than just meet their expectations.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Learn about Galler’s new business growth program, “Beyond the Next Level” by sending an email to put “Beyond” in the subject line.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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