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Three Steps To Customer Loyalty

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As a prime source for repeat business and referrals, your relationships with customers have to be given top priority. After the sale is made is when you can really strengthen the connectivity with your client. This is the time where you can develop unshakable customer loyalty.

Loyalty is having a client that sticks with you, even when your competitors come knocking, because your relationship is so strong. That kind of loyalty will weather all kinds of competitive attacks, even better pricing offers, because your clients are buying you and the value you bring to the table.

There are several steps to developing this kind of loyalty. First and foremost, you have to deliver what you promise and more with your product or service. You know the saying, "under promise and over deliver." Most salespeople do the opposite, so they are immediately in a negative position with their clients. Is it any wonder that they are quickly moving on to the next sales transaction and not looking back?

Second, you have to stay connected to the delivery or implementation of your product or service. Even if you hand off the client to your operations or customer service department after the sale is made, you want to stay connected and involved at some level. At the very least, your client needs to know that you are his advocate and that you will be there as needed for any questions or issues that can't be handled through the proper channels.

Third, you have to keep the channels of communication open. No relationship will flourish and mature without open and honest communication. Solicit feedback long after the sale is made. Ask questions about your product or service and its uses and benefits to your clients as they are using it. In addition, make sure the communication between your clients and yourself is consistent and ongoing. How often and in what form depends on your business and the type of clients you have. The point is that you should make deliberate decisions on how often you connect and how.

A good practice is to develop customer service programs around staying connected. In other words, don't leave it to chance or try to wing it. If you do, things will likely fall through the cracks. Using CRM (customer relationship management) software can help you manage your relationships better. Anytime you can automate the process, the easier you will make it on yourself. In fact, a recent survey of 1,337 companies by Jim Dickie and Barry Trailer found that the right CRM system that was properly implemented increased cross-selling/up-selling by 102% while decreasing the cost of the sale by 31%.

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