Creating Client Loyalty = Depending on You

By MARK RIFFEY for the Flathead Beacon Newspaper

What’s the easiest way of creating client loyalty?

The “easiest” way will differ by business. The key is to keep using it once you determine what’s easiest for yours.

I can’t promise that one way is easier than others but one of the ways I’ve found is to be the business your clients depend on to the point of rabid dependence.

I don’t mean that the relationship should be unhealthy, or that you should depend only on that client’s business. What I mean is that their dependency on *you* should be as strong as you can make it for as many top tier clients you can handle.

This will require systems because delivering this level of service manually rarely scales well much less remains consistent across employee changes, vacations and family crises (etc).

Isn’t that dependency up to them?

No, not if you’re paying attention.

The level of dependency is up to you because you’re the one who makes decisions about how you serve them. They might decide WHAT, but you decide the HOW. Only you can make the strategic decision to deliver more than they expected and do so with an owner’s mindset.

That owner’s mindset is critical: “We did this because if I was you, I’d want to watch out for this situation.”

It’s tough to quantify for you how much value this can create in the relationship with your clients, so I’ll say “a lot”.

You might be thinking that you can’t do this because your car wash business isn’t like my business, but this doesn’t matter. You could hand dry the cars after they pull out of the wash, even though that isn’t what your clients are paying for. Incremental cost – almost nothing. Value delivered – plenty.

Anyone can apply this mindset.

Ask them

Have you asked your customers if they depend on you? Ask.

9325697_sYou want to know what they depend on you for, and when you last disappointed them. Ask them how they depend on you and if there are things that they wish they could depend on you for. If they’re a good match, that’s new business on a silver platter.

Ultimately, you want them to know, not just think, that your business has their back. Consider the vendors you use that are so dependable, you don’t feel the need to check up on them.

Do you even have any that good? Is this a choice (perhaps due to your selection of service level\pricing) or is it because no one offers as much as you’d like to get? Have those vendors asked you if you could depend on them more?

Have you asked your clients that question?

I can’t afford to be that dependable

Maybe you’re thinking that you can’t afford to provide dependency-class service to your clientele. While you probably can’t provide it to everyone at your current price structure, there’s always going to be a group who needs more and will invest in better products and services. All they need to know is better offers exist.

What would you have to deliver to make it perfectly reasonable to add a zero to the price you get for your product or service? Add a zero = 10x. Since I suspect most aren’t going to easily see a 10X change, let’s start smaller.

What could you do to double the perceived value of the products and services you provide for the clients that you most want to depend on you?

For example, if you’re an attorney who charges $3000 for a document, you might be struggling with the idea that you could charge $6,000 much less $30,000 for it. Key: Start by changing the perception that the price is for a piece of paper.

Perception of value matters

Perception of value includes service level.

For example, if I buy a car and it breaks down, what happens when I call the dealer for help? Whether they act as my personal car genie or blow me off doesn’t change the value of the car (or does it?), but it certainly affects the perceived value of my purchase.

Over the long term your rewards are always proportionate to the value you provide. Premium pricing for the clients who need / want dependency provides you with the margin necessary to provide extraordinary value, while providing leeway to guide lower-tier clients up the ladder.

How are you creating client loyalty?


2014-08-20_0819Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s sitecontact him on Twitter, or email him  Check out the Flathead Beacon archive of all of Mark’s blogs.