I heard this joke:
A: When is customer loyalty not repeat business?
B: Wait, repeat business isn't loyalty?
A: No. It's not. And can you just answer the question now?
B: No. I can't. I need some help.
A: You wrecked the joke.
Repeat business proves only one thing: the absence of a better choice.
Repeat business isn't loyalty, it's just habit and a lack of alternatives. Repeat business is less about what you offer and more about what your competitors are not offering. But they can change that in a heartbeat.
Customer loyalty is something different altogether. Loyalty is a tolerance for disappointment and a resistance to temptation.
The only way to know if a repeat customer is a loyal customer:
a) you screw up, fix it, and they come back; or
b) something prettier, cheaper, easier comes along, and they stick with you anyway.
Also read: Customer Loyalty: What Does It Mean?
How do you get sticky customer loyalty?
- It starts with you. Understand your own values, and your value to others. Then communicate those clearly. Clear values make you sticky.
- Say no when that's the right answer. Overpromising ends loyalty. You are better off to refer a customer elsewhere than make a promise you can't keep. When you broadcast that a customer's delight matters more than you earning a quick buck, that integrity attracts loyalty.
- You go first. Loyalty itself is sticky.
- Screw up and then do an awesome job of fixing it. Fixing your mistakes well may be the biggest loyalty driver of all.
- Be the best moment that person had today. Not just the best cup of coffee or the best kitchen repaint, or whatever it is you do... the best moment of their whole day period.
- Become trusted. Trust and loyalty are the North and South Poles we move between. Become an expert and an authority in what you do. Become a leader.
Can we try that joke again now?