Tag Archives: customer loyalty


If you’re anything like me, you love having an excuse to celebrate. Today happens to be my wedding anniversary, and at 33 years I think that’s cause to celebrate.

Marking special occasions is a great way to engage both customers and team members. Recognising a personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

What’s the occasion?

The most obvious things to celebrate are birthdays and anniversaries. Not just personal anniversaries such as a significant wedding anniversary, but maybe noticing the anniversary of the date each of your team members joined your business or your department. If you’ve a large team you might decide to celebrate the anniversaries of everyone who joined in the current month. This is a great excuse to bring people together who might not normally work closely together.

For business customers congratulate them on a significant anniversary in their business, or the anniversary of when you started working with them (and this helps to reinforce your relationship).

And of course, don’t forget anniversaries for your own business; it’s a great way to blow your own trumpet!

Recognise those important and proud moments for your team members outside of work. The arrival of their first grandchild, passing their driving test, their child’s graduation, gaining a qualification, making a significant contribution to a charity e.g. through a fundraising event, running a marathon, etc.

Celebrate and share your business successes. Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, and thank them for their contribution. Celebrate that special deal or contract you’ve won. Pass on the recognition you’ve received from an important customer.


Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and will be appreciated by those you are congratulating.

Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any over the top celebration.

For a customer a little unexpected gift (which might also be an excuse for them to visit again, but ensure it is something they will value, not just a blatant promotion for more business) can make them feel special and appreciated.

If it’s an occasion to be shared will taking time out for coffee and cake to celebrate the occasion be more appropriate than taking everyone down to the pub?

And it may be that the best and simplest way to help team members mark the occasion is giving them the opportunity to knock off early, so they have more time to celebrate with their family and friends.

Lessons in Loyalty

Happy  Anniversary

This week my husband and I have been celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.

So I’ve been reflecting on the lessons we can learn from a successful marriage that can be applied equally to a successful customer relationship, ultimately leading to customer loyalty and retention.

5 themes immediately came to mind.

1. Show you care

Taking time to listen (and showing you’re listening) not only demonstrates your interest, but also helps identify what’s important and to clarify expectations.

Recognise others might have different priorities, interests and needs and understanding what these are makes it a lot easier to achieve a win-win.

This might involve problem-solving and frequently requires a degree of flexibility. We all know digging in our heels or sulking gets us nowhere!


2. Keep things fresh

Add an element of surprise, spontaneity and the unexpected. Providing of course it’s a pleasant surprise! I often talk about adding GLUE – giving little unexpected extras. These work equally well at home as they do in business.


3. Don’t take them for granted

Remember to show your appreciation for even the smallest gesture and say thank you. Keep your promises even if it means doing something that seems insignificant to you. If problems arise nip them in the bud so they don’t fester.

And own up to mistakes and admit when you’re in the wrong. Yes, I know this can be tough, but it certainly earns you brownie points when you do.


4. Let them know you’re thinking of them

When you’re not together stay in touch, and stay on their radar. Whether it’s a letter, birthday card, email, or simply a text, it lets your loved one (or customer) know they’re still important to you. Or maybe you spot something that is perfect for them and give it to them saying “I saw this and thought of you”.


5. Celebrate

Join in when they want to celebrate, even if you’re not quite in the mood! There’s no better way to dampen someone’s enthusiasm (and potentially sour a relationship) than failing to share in their moment. Find a reason to ask them to share your celebrations too. And simply have some fun together.


Do your customers feel appreciated?

thank your customers


It’s estimated that over two thirds of customers will fail to return if they feel unappreciated. This is probably the number one reason businesses lose customers.

So when speaking at a professional services group members meeting this week I was surprised by their reaction to the idea of saying thank you. To them this felt uncomfortable.

But how you say thanks is less important. It’s the fact you do something – anything – to show you appreciate your customer choosing to do business with you over and above all the other people or businesses they could have chosen.

What do you do to say thanks to your loyal customers so they feel appreciated?

Here are 5 things you could be doing if you’re not already…

1. Simply saying thank you

The easiest way to do this is of course is a sincere thank you in person.

But depending on the nature of your business and the value and relationship with each individual customer you could follow up with a simple thank you message.

By this I mean a personalised physical thank you note. Some think in this web based age this is out dated; but how would your customers react to receiving a handwritten personal note in the post, rather than another bland email clogging up their inbox?

It might be more appropriate to say thank you to a whole team of people. I’ve yet to find a team who doesn’t appreciate a special treat they can share in the office over coffee.

If your relationship is an ongoing one find an ‘excuse’ to make a thank you gesture. An anniversary, perhaps; a proud moment; moving house; or even to mark a special date in your own calendar, such as achieving an award; launching a new service; etc.

Which brings us nicely onto the next item…

2. Exclusivity

Give them privileged access to services, events, information or facilities which are only available to existing or your most valued customers, and not available to new customers. The more exclusive the better!

How does it make you feel when you see promotions offering special deals for new customers that aren’t available to you as an existing customer?

Make your loyal customers feel valued and special. Think of it like a members club, that delivers real benefits to members.

3. Remember them

Not only addressing your customers by name (although don’t under estimate the impact of this, especially when you aren’t expecting it). It’s also about remembering their preferences.

Do they have any particular likes and dislikes; special requirements, or preferences?

Do we know their important dates? How do they take their coffee? Remembering simple details will always be appreciated.

Record personal details and any special requirements so the service they receive is consistent whoever attends to them.

4. Ask for feedback

I know I’ve already mentioned this recently on this blog, but I’ll say it again…

Never take your regulars for granted; ask for their feedback and resolve any shortfalls quickly.

Problems or challenges are often your opportunity to shine and leave a positive lasting impression if dealt with positively. Now’s a chance to exceed expectations.

Face to face will always win over a questionnaire.

Ask customers what they like and what (if anything) disappoints; learn from this and continually improve. Customers appreciate you asking for their opinions as long as you follow through.

Keep them updated to demonstrate you’ve been listening. What better excuse to invite them back to show the changes you’ve implemented?

5. Show you care

Be attentive to your customers’ individual needs and specific circumstances. Listen, engage and take time to show your genuine interest in them.

Take every opportunity to give spontaneous and unexpected little extras that they won’t get from your competitors.

These may be totally unrelated to your products or services, but simply something you know they’d appreciate. They’ve mentioned something in passing they love, but can’t’ get hold of it; they have a problem in some other aspect of their life, but you happen to see something you think might help; you know it’s a loved one’s birthday and you happen to have something you think they’d enjoy…

Pay attention to detail, be consistent, do that little bit extra when needed, so your customers always feel appreciated.


I’d love to hear what do you do to say thanks to your loyal customers?

Are you trying to get more business the hard way?

Getting more business the hard wayLast weekend we took a break to Istanbul. If you’ve ever been there you’ll know that like so many tourist areas you have to run the gauntlet to get through the mass of eager restaurateurs, carpet sellers and ceramics stallholders.

The trouble is they’re all just trying too hard to get our attention without even considering that we’re simply not interested.

And even if we were there’s no knowing what they supply will meet our needs. And so far there’s simply no relationship, no trust and no reason to choose them in preference to all the competition.

As it happened we weren’t in the least interested in looking at or buying carpets. However I do love ceramics and would have been tempted to look at some of the beautiful pieces on offer, but I was too scared of getting pressured …so I simply steered clear.

We were of course interested in eating! But rather than taking a gamble on our first night we asked our hotel for a recommendation. Interestingly when we approached the recommended restaurant it was the only one on that street where we didn’t get the sales spiel from the pavement.

On our second night we went to a restaurant in another part of the city which we would never have found had our hosts not been there before. It was tucked away in the most unlikely of buildings, on the top floor with fantastic views across the city, and food to match. We got the impression it was one of those places to be seen, but it certainly didn’t achieve such a following by accident.

On our final night we took the easy option and returned to the restaurant we’d been to on our first evening. The food had been good, there was a great atmosphere and they’d looked after us well. There’s no reason to suggest we wouldn’t have had just as good an experience in any of the others, but we knew we could trust this one, and as we had our hosts with us we didn’t want to take a chance. So that one simple recommendation had earned that particular restaurant two visits and introduced 4 new customers in the space of 3 days.

If we think about it, it’s a similar story whenever we are touting for new business. If we approach a prospective customer we’ve no way of knowing they have a need for what we sell right now, and even if they do they don’t know that what we have to offer is a good match, there is no relationship, no trust and no particular reason to choose us in preference to any of our competitors.

Compare this with asking for additional business with our existing customers. They already know us, and we know that they’ve had a need for what we sell and may well have further needs in the future. They’ve already had experience of our product or service, and hopefully they like what we offer and if we’ve done a good job they’ll trust us too. Just like the two restaurants in Istanbul.

So how about devoting some of the energy we put into creating new business into fostering a longer term relationship with our existing (and past) customers? Keeping the relationship going, keeping contact, reminding them of what we have to offer and why they chose us in the first place, introducing them to what else we have available, asking them to share in our successes, taking every opportunity to stay on their radar so it’s us they think of first when they’re ready to buy again or asked for a recommendation.

It might take a bit of effort, but it certainly beats pouncing on every passer by just on the off chance!

For more articles and resources www.naturallyloyal.com

A Ray of Sunshine

creating magic moments

I wasn’t in the best of spirits when I boarded the train home from Manchester yesterday. I’d already been kicking myself I hadn’t booked a taxi from my client’s premises as when I left it was pouring with rain; so naturally there wasn’t a cab in sight.

Arriving at the station with only minutes to spare I decided it was quicker to walk the stairs than stand stationary amongst the crowd on the escalator; only to catch my heel near the top of the stairs and watch my suitcase skedaddle down the steps as I lay on all fours!

Minutes later we were pulling out of the station and as the PA announcements started I wasn’t paying any attention….

That was at least until the shop manager broke into the verse! This was a Virgin train, and so maybe he’d been inspired by the Virgin safety video (if you haven’t seen it, take a look below). Well, it certainly got everybody’s attention.

It was a little ray of sunshine on a wet Thursday afternoon.

Now, I’d have to admit if he’d said the same thing as we left every station it could have got a little tedious. But he didn’t. Every time he made a new announcement he came up with some other witty repartee.

So by then I was curious to see whether or not he could deliver all he promised! I wouldn’t normally make the walk through six or seven carriages for the sake of a cup of tea, but I was now intrigued to meet Damien.

I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. Every single passenger who walked through or stopped at the shop while I was there was greeted with a big smile and friendly banter. Service was helpful and swift. And what’s more he made suggestions and recommendations so I’m positive his sales increased as a result.

The mere fact I felt compelled to write about this proves this made a memorable customer experience. And this had nothing to do with Damien’s skills to make tea or handle cash. It was all down to personality and attitude.

So if you want to give your customers a little ray of sunshine, and create magic moments, focus on recruiting people with the personality and attitude. You can teach the rest.

….. and here’s the Virgin safety video – a refreshing change don’t you think?


Little hinges swing big doors

Some years ago I was fortunate enough to interview one of my mentors – Peter Thomson, and he shared an expression “Little hinges swing big doors”. I was reminded of this today when I learnt that it is NHS Change Day.

It really doesn’t take much to make quite a marked difference to someone’s perception or to a customer’s experience. In fact I’ve been following a discussion on LinkedIn over the past week where other customer service professionals have been sharing their thoughts on the little things that destroy the customer experience.

As the list is growing it’s obvious that these are often seen as potentially insignificant things, even done absent mindedly, but to the customer they can make or break the customer experience. And when two or three of these are added together can make a massive difference to the degree of trust and long term relationship.

What struck me from the discussion is just how much is down to the interaction and engagement of the team. Subtle things that take seconds. Such as that initial eye contact as soon as someone walks in, a genuine smile, looking organised and ready for business, using someone’s name, remembering someone’s preferences, the tone you use when saying hello or saying thank you, the use of I, you or we, the use of a positive language. All adding to that first and last impression.

Of course the quality of the product itself will have a bearing, but get these basics wrong – these little hinges – and you have to work a darn site harder on the other stuff to ensure your customers’ experience is a 5 star one.

Say thank you!


On the second day of Christmas  my true love sent to me

…. a thank you

I’m sure you wouldn’t dream of not thanking a friend or relative for the gifts they gave you at Christmas.

But what of your customers?

If you’ve not done so already, now might be a good time to show your customers your appreciation of their business over the past year, show them that you value them and use this opportunity to show you care.

If you’ve not already been in touch with your customers over Christmas do something for them now.

Say thank you for their business, ask for their feedback, and reward their loyalty. What can you offer them that’s exclusive to your existing customers; a ‘members only’ access, previews, special privileges, fast track options to save time, or deals to save money? You only have to look at the high street sales today to see how everyone loves a good deal!

Even better if you can personalise this to your customers’ preferences and interests.

Don’t wait till the New Year, do something right now while everyone else is sitting back.

It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time when others waste time”  Henry Ford

It’s more than just a card…

According to a recent Accenture report the UK has the biggest percentage of people telling their friends about poor experiences.


So to build loyalty is it just about hLoyalty cardsaving a loyalty card?


Of course not, but when I tell people I help businesses build loyalty it’s always the first thing they think of.

Imagine you’re faced with a choice: One coffee shop has a loyalty card and you happen to have a card with just one stamp on it. It’s part of a chain, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fill up your card with the required number of stamps for your free coffee. The coffee is OK, but nothing special.

Across the road is another independent coffee shop. You know they serve great coffee and scrumtious cakes and everyone in there is always smiling and friendly.


Which do you choose?


I know which one I’d go for…..

Now I’ll admit that there are times when a loyalty card might swing you. Let’s take filling your car with fuel. Two garages, pay at the pump, similar pricing, but with one you earn points, with the other you don’t. Do you care about the experience? Probably not (although you might do if you need to go in store to grab a bite to eat, pick up your daily paper or a bottle of wine). So in those instances the loyalty card might win.


But does the experience your customers get compare to the bland needs purchases of buying fuel?


As we learnt from the coffee shop example the first two considerations are a great experience and a great product. A great product ought to be a given, but even then be prepared to listen the customer feedback. You never know, you may be missing a trick if they have feedback, ideas or suggestions on how it can be improved. And there’s nothing quite like demonstrating to a customer that you’ve taken their ideas on board to build loyalty.

Consider the customer experience from start to finish – what’s the first impression? Get some credits in the customer’s ‘emotional bank account’ as early as possible. So if things do ever go wrong, you have a credit balance to call upon.

When there are queries or complaints whatever the cause, and whoever’s ‘fault’ you listen, empathise and deal with the issue positively, so you leave a positive last impression. Few will return if they go away with a poor lasting impression, however good your product.

Train your team so they know what’s expected of them, and give them the skills, confidence and authority to respond to customers ensuring everyone gets a great experience, consistently – whoever serves them.

Stay in touch with your customers if you can.  Even if you can’t get their personal details to stay in touch directly, do what you can to stay on their radar, so they don’t forget who you are.

Take every opportunity to show you appreciate their business. Say thank you, listen to their feedback, make any offers relevant, let them know what’s happening that might be of interest, let them know what else you offer over and above what they currently buy from you, pre-empt their needs and offer a solution, find ways to solve their problems without being asked.

Oh, and if you are relying on some kind of loyalty scheme, be it a card, points or rewards scheme, give it some value and prominence. So often they are just an afterthought. Do you and your team promote it? Do you let customers know what they’ll be getting? Do you make ‘members’ of your loyalty scheme feel valued; that they are getting something extra? Do they get invitations to take part in offers, events or occasions that aren’t open to everyone. Are they given any real incentive to return?  Make it something that feels exclusive, special and valuable.

Then you can use it to build loyalty.


Sign up here for tomorrow’s (Tuesday 14th) free online training:

“How to Get Your Customers Spending More – and Thanking You For It”

Head on over to https://www.naturallyloyal.com/webinar/ to register and see what other webinars are coming up.

Have you written all your thank you letters yet?

As many parents know at this time of year you often have to nag relentlessly to get your children to write their Christmas thank you letters.

But have you been setting the right example? Have you written to everyone who’s given up their time and money to do business with you either over Christmas or over the past year?

I have to confess I’m not a great one for sending Christmas cards to business contacts. Let’s face it, your Christmas card probably gets lost in a sea of other cards leading up to Christmas.

But sending something after Christmas; after the turkey’s being eaten, the tree’s come down and the cards have been binned, sending something of value to your customers is more likely to get to your customers attention and have longevity.

And I’m not talking here about bombarding people purely with a multitude of offers and promotions showing how desperate you are for business during the quieter months of the year. This doesn’t mean to say you can’t tell them about what’s coming up but do it in such a way that makes them feel appreciated.

Say thank you

Send something that shows you appreciate their custom. As a minimum this might be a simple as a broadcast e-mail to everybody on your mailing list, or homing in on those who have booked Christmas or seasonal events with you. Particularly think about those people who have been guests of your existing customers, maybe as part of a party and who have visited you for the first time.

But maybe you want to do a little bit more for your special customers; those that have been your perfect customers and you’d like to see a lot more of (and the chances are they’ll know lots of other people just like themselves, who they might be inclined to tell about you), the organisers of events, anyone who has made referrals that’s brought you extra business over the year, for giving you a glowing testimonial or review, or simply because they put their trust and faith in you to deliver something extraordinary for a special occasion.

A simple personalised thank you note will not only show your appreciation, but it will give them something to remember you by – especially if it is handwritten and tailored to them. There’s nothing quite like something sent by good old-fashioned snail mail with a handwritten signature (and not on stuffy, formal business stationery) to get someone’s attention.  Even better, if the whole message is handwritten on a hand-picked greetings card. Try to find a card that reflects something about that particular customer.

Some think in this web based age this is out dated; how would your customers react to receiving something in the post, rather than clogging up their email inbox?

Ask for feedback

A follow up thank you is also a great opportunity to get feedback too. Ask them about their experience and whether they’d do business with you again. Did it meet or exceed their expectations? Ask for specifics such as what they enjoyed most and any ideas, comments or suggestions they have to make the experience even better. If they’ve had a good experience prompt them to post feedback on review sites appropriate for your business such as TripAdvisor.  Make it easy for them by providing a link to the review site too. And don’t forget to thank them again when they give you feedback. Even if it’s not all glowing and what you want to hear, wouldn’t you rather know about it so you can put it right?

Rewarding loyalty

You might choose to show your appreciation with something more tangible such as a small gift, an exclusive offer for themselves or a friend, or maybe even relevant and useful information or tips that’s relevant to your business and customers’ interests.

The law or reciprocity means that if you give something to your loyal customers you are setting the stage for them to do something for you in return. Whether this is repeat business, a referral or maybe a testimonial, any one of these will add benefit to your business.  So the more you can do to show your appreciation the greater the chance of staying on their radar and of them remaining loyal to you.

Mark key milestones in your relationship: thank them when they’ve been with you for a year, and on each subsequent anniversary, when they’ve concluded a big event, when you’ve worked with them on a big project or programme or when they’ve just upgraded to a particular level of service.

When enough is enough

One of the things I get asked about most with e-mail marketing is how often can you contact customers without annoying them. Well you certainly don’t want to be branded as a spammer.

I read this comment on TripAdvisor for a hotel only yesterday

“A nice hotel, friendly staff, breakfast ok, ……..  BUT: since I spent 2 days there I get mails and mails and mails about everything and nothing. I asked them twice to delete my data but nothing happened and they lavish me with newsletters.”

Not really the sort of thing that you want to get.

So three lessons here:

  1. Give your customers something of value; something that they really want to read or receive (and if you don’t know what this might be, try asking them)
  2. If you’re going to be sending a series of messages (supposed to a one-off thank you or confirmation) always seek permission and include a way to opt out if they choose
  3. Have a full proof system in place to ensure people are taken off your mailing list the moment they ask you to

Remember, a customer is special and the aim is to build a loyal relationship.

And of course thank yous don’t just happen at Christmas, but whenever a customer has had a choice, but chose to do business with you.

All glitz and no substance

Last night we were watching Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Comedy Roadshow with Rhod Gilbert telling the story of his toothbrush. (It’s very funny and if you’ve never seen it you can watch it here. Whether it’s a toothbrush, socks or earmuffs, I’m sure we’ve all had similar disappointments; you receive the most amazing looking gift, beautifully wrapped, posh ribbon and fancy packaging. Then you reveal the contents…. And it’s a real let down. It’s all glitz and no substance.

So why would I be talking about disappointing gifts?

Do we ever leave our customers with the same let down experience?

What promises might we make either intentionally or unintentionally, on which we then fail to deliver.

We’ve had that experience just this week. We came home on Tuesday night to find a card saying “we tried to deliver your parcel, but you were out.”  (I’m sure with today’s technology it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep the customer informed, and in this case notify expected delivery date, but maybe that’s an article for another day…) To cut a long and very frustrating story short despite rearranging the delivery for Wednesday, the parcel still hasn’t arrived. Needless to say our expectations have been far from met and that courier company certainly won’t be getting any recommendations from us.  Yes, I appreciate it’s Christmas and it’s a busy period, but please don’t make promises that you then can’t deliver. Not a good recipe for customer loyalty.

It’s easy when you’re busy to let things slip, but this should be the very time to wow your customers So here are my top 10 things you might want to check so you feel confident you’ll never be falling short with your customers, so they remain naturally loyal to you and your business.

  1. Is everything you display on your website and in your marketing representative of what people get when they arrive. Not only your offers and prices, but are your photographs representative, is everything available as implied or, are directions accurate, etc. Yes, I get that you need to make your offers enticing, but they certainly shouldn’t be misleading if you don’t want to lose your customers’ trust.
  2. Is it made clear at the time of enquiry or booking if anything won’t be available on the day or time in question? There may be times when you’re hosting big events that are bound to have a knock-on effect on other customers. Be upfront about these and the impact it might have to avoid disappointment.
  3. Are customers forewarned of any potential problems? For example peak periods when there might be a need to wait. Or when the only option you can offer your customer is not what they would normally book. OK, they may not decide to book as a result, but better that and they come back another day, than they come to you, have a disappointing experience, and never return.
  4. Does the customer’s first impression live up to what’s in store? Disappointment at this stage can have a knock-on effect on the whole experience, leaving your customer nit picking by looking for every opportunity to support their initial assessment.
  5. Will the last customers of the day get the same choices and level of service is the first customers of the day. Your team might be tired and want to go home, but is that really your customer’s problem? Having systems in place and training your team will help you maintain consistency.
  6. Can your regular customers be reassured that there will always get the same level of service, irrespective of the time of day, week or year. Or better still, aim to raise the level of service even if just by 1% on each and every visit, so there’s always something new and you’re never seen to be complacent.
  7. Do you do anything to add value and wow your customer? What are the additional little touches that you can add with minimal effort or at little cost and to you, but are appreciated your customers that will give them the perception of you going the extra mile.  Lots of little thoughtful touches throughout the customer journey all add up to a great experience.
  8. Is the level of service and attention to detail in line with your offer/product(s). You can have the most amazing product in the world, but unless its delivery matches up to this it will fail to impress.
  9. If and when things go wrong (and even in the most well oiled business mishaps still happen) be bold enough to admit your mistakes, apologise, rectify and move on. How you recover the situation will be what the customer remembers.
  10. Don’t leave that last impression to chance; make sure everything delivers right to the very end and follow-up with your customers after their visit to show your appreciation of their custom.

So remember, you’re only as good as your customer’s last experience so make sure it’s a good one, even when you are busy.

Whatever you promise you need to be able to deliver, and better still, deliver +1%. Every time!

You’ll not only keep your customers happy and get fewer complaints, but make it easier on your team, they’ll give better service and you set the stage for repeat business and a naturally loyal customer.