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The greatest opportunity for moving the needle on customer loyalty—that critical factor for driving long-term growth and maintaining a competitive edge—isn’t going to be found in a piece of technology, or even a new product or feature.

Companies tend to talk a great game about their focus on customer loyalty and great customer service, touting commitments to exceed expectations and go above and beyond for their customers. But could those efforts be backfiring? A study by Gartner found that customer service interactions are nearly four times more likely to lead to disloyalty than loyalty. What’s more, an “above-and-beyond” strategy focused on exceeding expectations is not only expensive and hard to do, it’s not necessarily making customers loyal.

In fact, the big opportunity for increasing customer loyalty lies in building value for our customers. Research shows there are three types of customers: dissatisfied customers, rationally satisfied customers and emotionally satisfied customers. Neither dissatisfied nor rationally satisfied customers will have any loyalty to your organization. Only “emotionally satisfied” customers will:

  • buy multiple products from you
  • be willing to pay more than what they’d pay for alternative products and services offered by your competition
  • endorse your organization to other people

Emotionally satisfied customers not only believe that their expressed needs are being met; they also feel that their deeper, often unspoken emotional needs are being fulfilled. Let’s say, for example, that the customer is a manager who has been tasked with purchasing a new system that your company offers. Deep down, though, this manager is worried. A new COO has come on board and has been shaking things up. The manager needs to make a good impression with this COO—and not make the wrong decision.

It doesn’t matter how great your company’s system is or how many innovative features it has; the true differentiating factor is a salesperson who understands and can address this manager’s deeper concern, which is a need for validation and security that he’s making a choice that’s going to make him look good. By asking questions and listening to uncover these emotional needs, the salesperson can provide the customer with the tools, information and support that will not only get the deal closed but also ensure that manager shines with his new boss. When you help others reach their goals, they will help you reach your sales goals. You know they’re not just trying to make a sale—they’ve got your back.

This is why the ability to create emotional bonds with your customers is the x-factor that drives customer retention and loyalty. A lower price or superficial features may bring them in the door, but the emotional satisfaction is what keeps them loyal year in and year out.

In B2B businesses in particular, these emotional bonds are built by a sales and service team that has the skills to provide high relationship impact. By understanding customer needs, delivering value based on those needs and helping customers achieve their goals, they consistently create deep, trust-based relationships that make their organization and brand stand apart from the rest of the field.

4 Steps to Enhance Your Relationship Impact

To build a focus on value that matters to your customers and increase your team’s ability to create loyalty-producing partnerships with their customers, start with these four steps:

  1. Establish a customer-centric culture that creates strong value-based relationships.
  2. Improve your service/sales team’s relationship-building skills by helping them develop trust, credibility and rapport so they can gain a deeper understand­ing of their customers’ personal goals.
  3. Increase your service/sales team’s capabilities in demonstrating the unique­ness of your products and services com­pared to competitive offerings.
  4. Increase your service/sales team’s ability to identify unarticulated customer needs and deliver value beyond the products and services you offer, which will reduce customer attrition and increase new customer acquisition.

When your customers not only value their trusted relationships, but also feel their wants and needs are being satisfied by differentiated products and services, they will have strong emotional bonds with your organization—and that means your competitors will have a hard time stealing them away.

About the Author
Brian Snader

Vice President, Client Development

For over 15 years Brian Snader has brought his passion for engaging our clients to achieve their desired performance outcomes....
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