Fostering Loyalty Through the Customer Experience

June 23, 2017

Service That Sells posted a recent article titled What Restaurant Guest Loyalty Is (and What It Isn’t) that dives into how to win repeat patronage. Even though the article is specifically targeted at restaurateurs, its advice is actually applicable to any industry that considers customer service to be an important differentiator—which is to say, it should apply to almost any business.

One of the first points the article makes is one we’ve expounded on before, which is that customer acquisition is far more expensive than retention. Despite this universally understood fact, some industries still cling to new-customer deals that can alienate existing clients. Large mobile telephone and cable companies often do this, making many wonder, “Why don’t you reward your loyal customers?”

Of course, telephone and cable companies are notorious for having poor customer service anyway, so their stubbornness on the matter shouldn’t surprise any of us. We must bear in mind, however, that any business that competes primarily on price, especially where a commodity product is concerned, is bound to deal with a lot of customer churn and also sacrifice quality in some way, especially in customer service. In order for any small business to compete with large companies that offset poor margins with volume, it must focus on the one thing these companies rarely succeeded at: providing the best customer experience.

In order to do that, as the Service That Sells article lays out, a business should focus on finding out who its guests are, what they want, and how this compares to the competition. In other words, a business needs to take steps to demonstrate that it cares about its customers.

To learn about the first two items, a customer survey can be hugely beneficial. Not only will you learn about what your customers like and don’t, you’ll also demonstrate to them that you’re listening, that you want their feedback. More than anything else when dealing with potential discontent, customers want to feel like they’re being heard. It’s amazing how much that feeling can contribute to overall customer satisfaction.

In order to compare your business to the competition, competitive mystery shopping is one of the greatest tools your company can employ. In this kind of mystery shop, a shopper will go to both locations and pose as a normal customer to gauge everything from customer service to signage and cleanliness. You’ll then receive a report comparing and contrasting the two, giving you an idea of what your competition is doing well—and even what they’re not, so you know what mistakes to avoid.

By learning about your customers as well as your competition, you’ll have the data necessary to craft the best experiences—ones that feel tailored to and respectful of each customer. After all, in the world of restaurants, as this article focuses on, diners rarely go out to eat merely because they want food. Usually there’s a reason: maybe it’s to reconnect with a friend, maybe it’s a special occasion, or maybe it’s to unwind from a tough day at the office. A business, restaurant or otherwise, that’s attentive to its customers, a business that cares about its customers, will beat out the commodified, cookie-cutter experiences that many large corporations offer.

To learn more about customer surveys, competitive mystery shopping, and more, contact us at The Brandt Group and we’ll help you fashion the best customer experience possible.

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