Understanding the Difference and How it Affects Your Business…

By Bud Abraham, Detail Plus


Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high, but customer loyalty is at an all-time low. At first glance, this might seem to be a contradiction. But it is really quite simple.

Businesses today are discovering that customer satisfaction is no longer a measure of success. What then is the difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer?

Satisfied customers will shop anywhere. Satisfaction is not an indication that a customer will patronize a business again. After all, haven’t you, as a consumer been quite satisfied, but never returned to that place of business?

Loyal customers will patronize a business again and again. They will say good things about your business and make personal referrals, tell friends and relatives that they should do business with you. They are ones who would rather “fight than switch.”

So, you ask, “how can I make my detail customers loyal to me? I have always thought they wanted a cheap price and good quality.” No, that is not true.

When you offer a lower price the customer becomes “loyal” to the lowest price. But as we all know there is more to loyalty than money. Money can certainly be used as bait to lure loyal customers from their present detail shop. However, remember that the lower their loyalty to the other detail shop, or for that matter to your detail shop, the more they will take the bait of lower prices. What does that tell you?

First on the Mind

Loyalty occurs if you are first on the mind of the motorist when they want a detail. A satisfied customer is the last to tell you they decided to use another detail shop. Loyal, first to know. Satisfied, last to know. Think about it.

You can better understand loyalty if you apply it to the word “fan.” If you have an NFL or NBA team in your city, you could be called a “loyal fan” of that team. Fan, as you may have heard, is derived from the word “fanatic.” Sports loyalty is to love one team and hate their arch rival.

Do your customers love you? To make it even more complicated, loyalty is not a one-action event. If it were, everyone would go out and do it. Something like loyalty evolves. For example, loyalty to a spouse or friend. It matures, or for that matter dissolves, over time, based on what you do or say.

How to Generate Loyalty to Your Business  

So what can you do to get your customers to be loyal to you and your detail shop only? As mentioned, loyalty does not just happen. There are a number of elements that breed customer loyalty.

  • Try to be unusual where it is unexpected Change what you do every day to wow the customer and create an atmosphere where that customer just has to tell others about how great it was. For example, giving women customers a rose; giving all customers a coupon for a future detail. What about an office or customer waiting area with a fax and phone for the business client to use?
  • Be a salesperson for your customer’s business. If you want to build loyalty beyond belief, just start getting your customers’ hot leads and prospects that get them business. Then when you call them, they won’t know if you are buying or selling.
  • Give your customers valuable information to help them better maintain their vehicles. Customers want answers, not always more of your service. If you want customers forever, become a valuable resource of information they can’t get along without.
  • Always deliver proactive service. Don’t wait for the customer to call you for another appointment. Call, email or write to let them know it is time for another detail service. Offer to pick up and return their vehicle. In other words, always do something so memorable that they call others and tell them about your service.
  • Go the extra mile—service beyond the sale. Give customers a supply of tire and vinyl dressing to apply themselves, a free fragrance tree, etc. Give more than what they pay you for and something that always has them thinking about you and your detail business.
  • Give customers the best detail service they could ever have. Actually, good service is at the heart of the loyalty process. Service that begins with yes provides solutions and ends with “wow.”
  • Give friendly service. How important is “friendly?” Ask yourself where you like to do business, and I will wager that everyone is friendly. Your customers want to deal with friendly, happy people who give the impression that “I am happy that you are here.”

Answer the phone in a prompt, friendly and professional  way. Don’t let detailers or just anyone answer the phone. You only have a few moments to make a first impression, and the telephone is a big impression builder.

Think of this from your point of view. How do you like an unfriendly, uninformed person answering the phone of a business you call? Go beyond the expected. Customers expect a detailed car. Give more, whatever it might be. What extra can you offer that your competition does not give?

  • Stand out from the crowd. Be fun, unusual, creative and different. Simply being human in the world of business can also set you apart more than you know. Become a likable person and people will like to do business with you.

Loyalty is the most difficult of the customer service goals to achieve. But once you have it, you have something your competition will never have—the next order.

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