Change Implementation Techniques for Forming Transitional Team, Creating Alignment, Maximizing Connectedness and Creativity

Technique 8.10 Steps in Growing Customer Loyalty

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List your customers and rank each one by type of customer loyalty, ie put a tick in the appropriate box.

Loyalty Type*i

Customers

Suspects

Prospects

Disqualified prospects

Inactive customers or clients

First-time customers

Repeat customers

Clients

Advocates

                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 

Notes

i) each step has specific needs that require identification as a basis for developing customers into advocates/apostles; these ascending stages are

- suspects (includes everyone who might buy your product or service)

- prospects (someone who has a need for your product or service and has the ability to pay)

- disqualified prospects (they do not need or do not have the ability to buy your product or service)

- inactive customers or clients (used to buy from you but do not now)

- first-time customers (have purchased from you for the first time)

- repeat customers (have purchased from you, more than once, the same or different products or services)

- clients (buy everything you have to sell that they can use)

- advocates (clients who encourage others to use you)

Getting Close to the Customer

All strategies, structures, systems, processes, activities etc. should be directed to understanding and satisfying customer needs, ie getting close to the customer and listening to them. Also, there is a need to ask customers to make presentations on their needs so that you can make a list of factors that are most important to your customers, describe how you can contribute to the achievement of their objectives, and prepare a plan for achieving your involvement

There is no substitute for direct access to customers. It keeps managers informed; it keeps them in touch; it keeps them honest

Ideally you want to create a type of relationship (partnership, joint venture, alliances, etc) that includes collaboration and commitment with your customer that goes beyond your technical skills and resources. It could include benefits like reducing costs, increasing capacity, focusing on core business, handling non-core activities cost-effectively, gaining a stronger supply position, etc. so that you become the value-for-money supplier. This type of partnership increases your customers' dependency on you and strengthens your long-term relationship. You show how your products or services can help your customers to achieve their objectives and how you can make an important contribution to their business success. They must be no internal or external factors that can have an adverse impact on your performance or commitment to the customer. This will result in you having a high proportion of long-term customers. Furthermore, your existing capacity will be increased by learning from your clients' core competencies and performance. All this requires you to have the right capabilities (technical, processes, managerial, etc), financial stability and adequate resources

Issues such as quality should be determined by the customer, ie constantly ask customers what they want, then shape the entire service and production processes to produce it. In fact, TQM stands the traditional organisational chart on its head. It states that the customers are the most important people for an organisation, those who are serving customers directly are next; and management is there to serve those who serve customers. In other words, everything that a business does should be adding value to their customers, and/or supporting what is adding value to the customer. TQM stresses constant measurement and improvement.

Remember that customers are like a moving target, ie their needs are not static, they are constantly changing. Furthermore, many marketers assume that they own the relationship with the brand; they do not. The customer owns the relationship.

Need to assess your customers' opinions and attitudes by finding out

- why they buy your product or services

- how they use it

- their opinions of your product or service

- why they choose your offering before that of the competition

- their experience of your product or service in terms of performance and after-sales care

(NB Attitudes and opinions are hard to quantify. Many factors influence a decision to purchase or remain loyal to the particular brand. For example, customers may be influenced more by their impressions of service rather than quality of the product. To explore these issues, detailed research is required including ways of receiving first-hand comments from customers about their dissatisfaction and satisfaction. Remember: paying attention to your customers' needs is an ongoing process. Also, feedback is important and it is a continuous process rather than a one-off event. Feedback includes informing customers of your organisation's response to suggestions, mistakes and new ideas. Furthermore, it encourages dialogue.

Ways of getting close and listening to your customers include:

- customer surveys

- customer follow-up

- community surveys

- customer contact

- customer contact reports

- customer councils

- customer focus groups

- customer interviews

- electronic mail

- customer service training

- test marketing

- quality guarantees

- undercover customers

- ombudsmen

- complaints tracking systems

- 1800 phone number

- suggestion boxes, etc

Some do's

- think of ways to reward customers for sharing their likes and dislikes

- be aware that what you regard as getting close to the customer may be perceived by some people as invasion of privacy

- make sure your organisational culture encourages staff to think "customer first"

- integrate customer focus with business activities

Some dont's

- don't make assumptions about what people think without testing them

- don't fall into the trap of underestimating your customers' intelligence

- don't rely on data from too small a sample of customers

- don't react too hastily to vociferous complainers (need to check whether other customers feel the same way)

 

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