The real reason customers stay loyal

Satisfying your customers’ needs is no longer enough. To keep them loyal you need to delight them.

In many industries, the sales process is the ‘be all and end all’ – and the fitness industry can certainly be guilty of this. I personally experienced a superb ‘future client’ process and joined a gym, then never heard a peep from anyone for the duration of my membership (which was over a year). After deciding that I wanted to try out another gym in the area, I tried to cancel my membership and lo and behold I was suddenly their number one priority – but it was too little too late.

The one thing that most business owners forget is that after you’ve closed the sale, your job is to keep the new client – for life. Help them become advocates. Customer loyalty is when people will not leave you just because something is cheaper or fancier or newer elsewhere – they truly belong to you.

If I remind you that it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to find a new one, would that re-ignite your interest in learning how to keep your clients? Of course it would. How many clients would you have now if you’d never lost a single one? Amazing number isn’t it? So here’s how to create a loyal following and, more importantly, how to remain relevant, valuable and promote advocacy.

Servant to your current and future clients

Do you aim to satisfy your customers? Is this the key to your customer service approach? Is this the culture you are creating in your business? If you answered yes to these questions you might think you have your customer service approach all sorted – but I’m sorry to tell you that you don’t. Just satisfying your customers is no longer enough. It’s an old-fashioned approach that says you give your customers exactly what they want and no more.

Each client presents you with two great opportunities: the opportunity to turn them into life-long customers and the opportunity to have them bring more customers to you because they were so impressed with your service. Just satisfying them means you met the minimum standard they expected – that’s hardly going to get them excited about coming back to you next time or calling their friends and telling them about how awesome your business is. It’s going to have them looking elsewhere to see if a business other than yours can do more than just meet their minimum requirements. For sustainable long-term growth you cannot be satisfied with satisfaction.
 
So, if this approach is not going to cut it, what should you be aiming for? You need to delight your customers. You need to surprise them, to exceed their expectations, to meet their every need – and then do more.

We all know business is a competitive game, and if one of your competitors is out their delighting their customers while you’re just satisfying them, before too long you’ll be sitting in an empty club wondering where all of your satisfied clients went. Your business must have a customer delight culture.

As you shape your business for the long term it’s critical that you stay humble and grounded and that you respect the clients who are giving you the opportunity to serve them. You must aim to develop relationships of mutual benefit. They have chosen your business and given you their money based on what you have promised to deliver to them, so meeting these expectations must be the basis of your relationships with your customers.

But, this won’t necessarily keep them coming back. You keep them coming back by going above and beyondwhat you promised to deliver, by doing something unexpected that is of value to them. The cut of your business must include shaping it so that you never lose clients. Show them that you care and always do the right thing by them. This is vital to sustainable long-term growth, because attracting customers to your business is expensive and time-consuming; once you’ve done that hard work, it’s much more profitable to keep these people in your stable rather than let them leave and then have to find new members to replace them. Repeat customers and referrals provide a much higher ROI for your business.

It’s not hard to figure out if you are good at this or not. Clients who have already handed their money over to you and experienced your products and service are a barometer for your customer service systems; if they keep coming back you are clearly on the right track. If they end their membership after their initial contract expires and you never see them again, clearly this side of your business needs work.

Your members want to lose weight, gain strength or achieve a health goal, and they want to know that they can do that in an inspired and focused environment. In your members’ eyes you need to be the number one option for helping them achieve and exceed their goals. In fact, you need to be the only option. By delighting them with the experience you deliver, you’ll be making your competition irrelevant in their eyes.


Stefan Kazakis is a business strategist, presenter and speaker and author of the book From Deadwood to Diamonds (Major Street Publishing, $29.95). He is a futurist and an inspiring communicator with over 20 years experience improving businesses. stefankazakis.com  or email info@stefankazakis.com