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Building customer loyalty is a complex process, and there are many different theories about how customer service and customer loyalty are related. Generally, it is assumed that good customer service translates directly into customer loyalty, but this is not the entire story. Particular types of customer service do not instill in customers a sense of loyalty, even if employees are perfectly polite and professional. It takes even more unique strategies to connect customer service and customer loyalty, and attention to the needs of a customer base is the only way to identify which strategy will be successful.
In most cases, customer loyalty is not built solely on customer service. The customer base must have a genuine interest in the product or service offered and must also have a reason to patronize the business even if that reason is purely social or related to prestige. That said, customer service and customer loyalty are related in that customers are more likely to be loyal to an experience than simply a product. Service provided by employees is one of the best ways to create an experience.
Some businesses pride themselves on their professional customer service, but professionalism is not the key to building customer loyalty. Customers must feel that they are special to the company on an individual level, which is an experience that can only be generated with a certain kind of customer service. Warm, personal customer service that reads the needs of the customers effectively is typically the best way to build customer loyalty, although there are some exceptions to this rule. More broadly, making sure that the needs of the customers are met on an individual level is the best way to achieve loyalty.
Although customer service and customer loyalty are not always related in the same way, it is certainly true that where customer service is lacking, customer loyalty will be lost. Bad customer service is a detriment to business in many ways and can destroy customer loyalty. It is difficult to police all employees to the degree that no customer ever has a bad experience, but it is possible to create the conditions in which employees feel they have an interest in providing effective customer service.
One interesting connection between these two concepts is that companies that treat employees in such a way that they provide good customer service often get customer loyalty as a benefit. In this situation, loyalty is a result of the general appearance of the company, not a direct response to a customer experience. Creating a good company solves both customer service and customer loyalty problems.
It's strange how companies think they can just send customers to the endless loop of voice mail trees, and how agents who never go off script can produce any kind of loyalty.
It's simple: being polite and professional is always appropriate. Add to that a willingness to go above and beyond in order to make sure a customer is happy and you probably have loyal customers.
I like to visit a fast food chain in my town because the employees are always pleasant. They seem to be glad to see me. I'm not just another animal coming into the pen that they have to deal with. It makes a huge different in the way I feel about that company.
Sometimes, my extension is the last stop for customers who really don't know what they want or need, and no one has taken the time to really listen to the caller to assess what they need.
There's nothing more annoying for a caller than to be bounced around all over creation and still not find anyone who can answer their question. You want loyalty? Be the person who can help a confused, frustrated caller. But you'll absolutely need to learn to really listen to people. That's the basis of good customer service, in my opinion. If you don't believe it, think about how many times you've threatened never to patronize a business again, just because no one seemed to care enough to really listen to your problem.