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Keep Them Coming Back

Devoted customers need more than a rewards program, says Sandy Rogers, the co-author of Leading Loyalty.

Why is customer loyalty important? "It is the key driver of long-term success in any business. Loyal customers not only come back, they are so enthusiastic about their experience that they tell all their friends. The whole process starts with earning employee loyalty. When employees are recommending the business as a place to work, it has a wonderful economic effect on the whole enterprise."

How do you earn it? "What comes to mind are reward points, or discounts and promotions. But te difference between a good and a great experience comes down to people and how they make us feel. It's all about the principles of empathy, responsibility, and generosity. Certain practices can bring empathy to life. We've got to make a genuine human connection. You can't have empathy for someone if you don't know how they're feeling."

How can you make that connection? "It starts with smiling and greeting people with a warm welcome. Customers can tell when someone is being genuine and when someone is follwoing a prescribed script. No matter how busy you are, you can make eye contact and let the customer know in a glance that you're going to take care of them."

Describe how to discover "the real job to be done." "There's a difference between seliling things and helping people accomplish their goals. If a man walks into a store looking for a wrench, I can say, 'They're right over in aisle 14.' That's not taking responsibility. Instead I say, 'Come with me. What are you working on?' That's taking responsibility for the real job. It's not sellign the guy a wrench; it's helping him get rid of his ugly fence."

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