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Customer Loyalty - Our Choice to Create

Aug 17, 2007
What does it means for us to be loyal to our customers? First of all it seems to be easier to take for granted customers loyalty to us and bemoan what we think is a lack of loyalty to us. Each repeat order from a customer can be a sign of their loyalty. Customers who change jobs and continue to use us are also signs of loyalty. Customers who use another vendor for a project because of price are not lacking loyalty; rather we have not provided enough value to justify our increased price. The point is this:

1. It is not that there are customers out there who are loyal and lacking loyalty, rather our company provides a certain level of value to each customer.

2. When that level of value is high, customers are loyal.

3. When we fail to exceed the level of value that customers can receive elsewhere, we cannot be assured of their loyalty.

In other words, it is up to us to determine how loyal customers are!

This leads us into questioning what is it that we can do to make customers more loyal? This should be an unsettling question, and one that we have all of the time. The minute we go on autopilot and assume that what we are doing is valuable to customers is when we begin to operate out of routine habit and fail to be a company that is truly interacting with our customer. What is valuable to the customer is not necessarily based on our unique understanding of their business. Therefore, continually winning the loyalty of customers, through providing an extraordinary level of value, is based upon some of the following things:

1. What have you done to learn about the customers business? It does not matter which role you are in, the more you know about their business, the better job you can do for them. Realize that their business is constantly changing. Realize that we have a wealth of information in our company about that customer. What are you doing to seek out and learn about customers? Even the literature or materials you are printing for them reveal much about their company.

2. What are you doing to behave in a manner that is loyal to the customer? This includes expressions of gratitude, corrections of errors, patience and understanding in times of change or trial at their end, and a willingness to change what we have always done for them in order to meet new requirements and expectations. The actions flow from a commitment.

3. If we are loyal, it seems that we will constantly be looking for what more there is to do, what needs to change and how can we improve? We need to be thinking about our customer's business, their problems, and what we can do to help with those, rather than simply viewing life in terms of minimizing the hassles of through-putting customers orders. In short, taking responsibility for the customers business, especially in terms of their ease of doing business with us and the successful results they achieve from the print and graphic projects that they are completing with us.

Loyalty to customers is a place to come from in the daily quest for excellence. Loyalty to customers is in the background of our companys mission statement. Customer loyalty goes well beyond simply customer retention. Customer retention is simply maintaining what we have in a relationship. Customer loyalty seeks to take where we are in a relationship to a new level of value and benefit for both organizations. Simply surviving the next order or straightening out the current problem is insufficient. Loyalty calls for us to go beyond this in terms of knowing our customer and thinking and working to help their business run better.

The most meaningful way to differentiate
our company from others is to do
an outstanding job with information.
How we gather, manage, and use information
will determine whether we win or lose!

A loyal customer is the true measure of our success. We want to be establishing long-term relationships with our customers. In keeping customers loyal, the strategies and principles listed below are important things to be considered and followed:

1. We want to surround ourselves with the same breed. We function best when employees share the same vision and enjoy working together. The result is a business with a distinct personality and a well-defined corporate culture. Another result is that our customers receive consistent treatment from everyone.

2. We want to do business with people who are compatible to us. This keeps the relationship on track for the life of the account.

3. We need to get up to speed quickly. Once we get an order, we need to hit the ground running. Knowledge of our customers business helps us move from the position of vendor into the role of strategic advisor and trusted counselor.

4. We want to avoid the mistake of taking an account for granted. It is important to view a customer as a business that needs to thrive and one that we would like to be able to contribute to their growth and development.

5. We need to know when to change direction. With the business world always in a spin cycle - our customers expect us to adapt, continue to evolve and grow with the times.

6. We need to avoid distractions. In the heat of the race, it is easy to lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish which is to create highly effective communication for our customers!

7. We need to go the full distance. If we do not deliver what our customers are looking for, someone else will gladly step in and take our place.

8. We need to run the race to win. In the end, the business that keeps loyal customers is the one that refuses to settle for anything less than the best - the best employees, the best ideals, and the best work that can be done on every project.
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