How to keep your customers I; Customer Loyalty

20 January 2020 * 6 min read

Written by David Ekefre

In this series of posts, we’ll learn what Customer loyalty and Customer retention is; and also some practical ways to achieve them. These two terms are used widely interchangeably but I believe they are two different terms and actions. Loyalty speaks more of a long-term — making your customer a lifetime customer-relationship between your business and her customer, whereas, retention speaks more of short-term — making your customers come back a second and third time — relationship. So you see, they speak of two different things, nonetheless, not far apart from each other because customer loyalty cannot be achieved without first retaining the customer, in other words, customer retention is the first step towards achieving customer loyalty. On the other hand, customer retention can be achieved without actually making the customer a lifetime customer

So, Customer Loyalty, what is it?

Customer loyalty, simply put, is turning your customers into lifetime customers. Customer loyalty is having a legacy of customers. This special set of customers persist with you through thick and thin, through the rainy day and through your business change processes. The best time to know your loyal customers is during a business change! A change of address, staff, business process, even the slightest price change — especially the slightest price change — become a test to your true customers.

Let me tell you a story about one faithful customer I used to know. This faithful customer became a faithful customer of a Nigerian food product store. This faithful customer obviously was in a foreign country, hence the need of a Nigerian food product store and I believe every Nigerian that has lived outside Nigeria knows what Nigerian food product store means to their life wherever they are! This faithful customer had found love in a strange place. This faithful customer had just received the answer to this faithful customer’s prayers. This faithful customer had become a loyal customer for as long as this faithful customer was to live in that country, but something happened to this faithful customer! Something happened to the business this faithful customer had become loyal to! Something drastic, something very unfortunate had happened to this business and this tested the faithfulness of this faithful customer! This business changed its location! They had now moved 2 streets away from their previous location, and I remember the words that were uttered out of this faithful customer’s mouth. He said to his friend when discussing this drastic change that had happened, while, by-the-way, his friend was convincing him that the new location of this Nigerian food product store was only 2 streets away, that it really wasn’t that big of a deal to keep going there. The faithful customer replied, “I’m not that loyal bro”. This faithful customer is me! I said those words “I’m not that loyal bro” and it honestly did not take me long to start searching for a new Nigerian food product store. How faithful I was indeed!

These words “I’m not that loyal bro”, might not be said with the exact same words but said all the time by customers. Customers, who, themselves think are loyal to a brand or a business but when the slightest change happens to that brand or business, these customers don’t know how to be loyal bro! but like I said, there are those customers who know how to stick with you; and that is customer loyalty. Turning the average customer into the stick-with-me customer, and I used the word ‘turning’ on purpose because it’s a process; “Customer loyalty is not a phase, it’s a journey”.

Ways to Achieve Customer Loyalty

This sub-heading ‘Ways to achieve Customer Loyalty’ can be substituted for ‘Ways to keep your marriage’ and it would still do justice to the intended purpose of the sub-heading because getting and keeping a lifetime customer needs almost the same, if not the same, amount of effort you need in keeping your marriage partner. It takes hard-work and love. Yes, it takes love too. Your loyal customers become your business friends, they become your business soul mates and you cannot have someone you call a friend if you do not love that person or a soul mate if you do not put some effort into that person’s personal life. Ok, don’t get carried away David, this is not a relationship post! But why can’t it be? This brings me to No 1 way to achieve customer loyalty and by No 1, I mean the most important and first of ALL ways to achieve customer loyalty.

Business — Customer Relationship

You should be in a relationship with your customer! I don’t mean a watch-a-movie-together-every-weekend relationship and I certainly don’t mean a promo/sales-spam-email-every-now-and-then relationship too.

So, a business-customer relationship, how can it be achieved?

There are several other ways you can achieve customer loyalty and as I said earlier, customer retention is the first step to customer loyalty, so if you can, first of all, achieve customer retention, you are on the journey to achieving customer loyalty. This means that every customer retention tactic that’ll be discussed in our next post is ultimately a way of achieving customer loyalty.

David Ekefre is a Business Management consultant for Ya’ats Advisory Services Ltd, a firm that specializes in Customer Relationships; customer service, retention, loyalty and the overall satisfaction of your customers. He loves solving problems regardless of which aspect of life.