Customer Service Boosts Your Customers up the Ladder of Loyalty

Business is often like a game of Chutes and Ladders. The end goal is to create “raving fans,” or loyal, lifelong customers who can’t stop telling others about your business. You move your customer along through the journey, advancing them through the sales funnel and even seizing opportunities to “jump ahead” and skip a few spaces on your way to fostering a life-long customer relationship. Yet, without proper nurturing, it is easy for your customers to slide back down the funnel into dissatisfaction or even quit your game altogether.

Unlike Chutes and Ladders, customer satisfaction is not based on the luck of the dice roll. Instead, create a customer service strategy at each rung of the Ladder of Loyalty to keep your business thriving with repeat customers and create valuable word-of-mouth referral marketing that is so vital in today’s digital age. It is six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one! By turning more prospects into evangelists, your raving fans will do a lot of the “heavy lifting” prospecting and marketing for you, saving you time, energy and (most importantly) money.

Learn more about the Ladder of Loyalty below, and how customer service should be the center of each step to create raving fans:

  1. Suspect: When your customer is a suspect, essentially they are anyone who has the potential to buy from you. They can be a very specific type of person depending on your target market.

    A great way to provide customer service to your suspects is to focus on your company’s online presence and user experience. Can your suspects easily find the information they need to know about your product and company? Are you reaching them where they do their research about what products and services to buy? Have you crafted a narrative that tells them how your product or service is the answer to their problem? Focus on honing in on your target market and speaking their language, while continuing to optimize and update your website and social media channels to make it easier for them to do business with you.

  2. Prospect: People who have taken an action, responded, or identified themselves as being interested in your product. They may have stopped into your business, opted into your e-newsletter, given you their name and email address to download a free report, or contacted your company to receive more information.

    A prospect shows they are a qualified lead by taking the extra step to reach out for more information or resources. This is where superb customer service becomes your secret weapon. At this point, the customer has likely also reached out to your competitors to see what all they can offer them and what makes them different. Creating a personal relationship is key to understanding the customer’s needs, figuring out where they are in their buying cycle, and providing them with the resources and information they need so they’ll turn to your business for the solution. Create a customer service-centric sales process that defines how often you reach out to prospects and the messaging you’ll use to discover their needs and move them down the sales funnel.

  3. Shopper: A shopper is a prospect who has purchased from you once, but has not yet decided whether or not they’ll continue doing business with you in the future.

    In terms of customer service, many businesses stop here. Because they made a sale, they believe their customer will think of them next time to make a repeat purchase. Yet, your customers continue to have choices, and regardless if they are satisfied with your product, if they weren’t thoroughly impressed with your business, they may look elsewhere next time around. Stay in touch through e-newsletters or direct contact to let your customers know you care. Make them feel welcome by saying “hello” when people walk through the door, asking if you can help them, and interacting positively with everyone that enters your business. Make your high-level of customer service the differentiator between your business and your competitors.

  4. Customer: A customer includes individuals or businesses who have purchased from you more than once. You’ll want to work with them to establish a consistent buying pattern.

    A two-time purchaser is ten times more likely to purchase again vs. a one-time purchaser. Customer service is critical for retention. Understand your customers’ buying patterns and reach out to them around the time they usually re-purchase, whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or a pre-scheduled newsletter. This is instrumental for staying top-of-mind and providing the convenience needed to create a loyal customer. Asking for feedback after every purchase is a great way to learn how to improve and build trust and communication with your customer base.

  5. Member: A customer who feels like they belong! You have earned their trust, and they are knowledgeable about your products and services. You know you’ve succeeded when the customer is no longer seeking competitive quotes for your product or services and is directly turning to you when they are in need.

    Reward your members for their loyalty! A loyalty program or VIP program is a great way to keep your long-term customers happy and move them up the ladder to become your advocate. Provide them with perks such as free shipping, and give them exclusive first access to new products or services as you roll them out. Send them specials in their inbox and be sure they know how much you appreciate their business!

  6. Advocate: Members become advocates when they start selling your product or service for you, through referrals and testimonials.

    Many people take recommendations and a second opinion before they buy a new product. Having advocate-level clientage is especially important for online reviews. Consider setting up a referral program that rewards existing customers for sharing word-of-mouth and online recommendations for your company and for signing up new customers.

  7. Raving Fans: Congrats! You’ve nurtured your customer to the point that they’ve taken it upon themselves to do your selling for you! They talk about your great product, service and experience they had with you. Therefore, they are an integral part of your sales team. They support your business and want you to succeed.

    Continue to offer the exceptional level of customer service to your raving fans as you did in the steps leading up to the top of the ladder. Reward, prioritize, and continue to garner feedback from these customers to continue to improve your organization. Interact with them on social media and watch as their influence empowers others to try your business.

Need help withf your customer service strategy? Contact us for more information on the Ladder of Loyalty and how to use it to grow your suspects into raving fans today!

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