Recently I experienced some real-life scenarios of businesses creating customer loyalty and some sound ways to keep and enhance customer loyalty. There is always so much focus and discussion about customer satisfaction. All well and good, but, let’s look at the difference between satisfaction and loyalty.
Satisfaction is defined as the fulfillment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite and the pleasure or contentment derived from such gratification. When talking about loyalty, there are terms such as steadfast, unwavering devotion, allegiance and faithful used. Satisfaction is more of a short term feeling, while loyalty implies that there is something more concrete and long term involved. Providing your products and services to your customers may create satisfaction, but, those may be able to be purchased anywhere and still create the same satisfaction. Quality products and/or services, timely delivery, at a fair and competitive price, that work for your customer. Seems very easy to duplicate this.
The real-life experiences I encountered recently were getting my haircut at the same salon, Shear Design, starting my 24th year and going to AutoZone to try to resolve an issue with windshield wiper replacement. I sometimes wonder about the loyalty that has been created at Shear Design after 23 years and I would have to imagine going on 300 visits. I have had massotherapy there and I do get Nature’s Sunshine products there now as well. I know the staff and the staff knows me. It’s about relationships. The pricing is not an issue as I value the treatment and sense of importance when I am there. I feel that they value me as a customer. The same day I decide to stop at AutoZone to try and resolve an issue that I had with replacement wipers that I had purchased there previously. The gentleman that helped me told me that I couldn’t get a replacement blade for the wiper, but, did go as far as to come out to my car and work on the wiper arm, get the replacement wiper to fit and work correctly on my car. I feel that that was a lot more than a parts store clerk has to do.
Gaining customer satisfaction is the first step, exceeding customer needs and expectations is the next step, and gaining the customers loyalty long term is the ultimate goal. Both of these businesses will be getting my referrals and my continued business and loyalty.