Customer Loyalty, Not Customer Satisfaction

Last week, at a women’s business forum in NY, Cindy Solomon presented one of the most engaging talks I’ve ever attended, “The Customer of the Future: The Art of Creating Customer Loyalty”. Solomon is an author and well-known keynote speaker who has a gift for helping great leaders create great results. If you ever have a chance to see her in person, definitely take the opportunity!

Rather than focus on customer satisfaction, says Solomon, customer loyalty is where it’s at. The two are VERY different, evidenced by the fact that 80% of customers who leave your company were “satisfied”. If that’s true (and it is), the question is how to keep your existing customers coming back for more. After all, you’ve established trust and credibility, now it’s time to continue building that relationship by adding value.

And the best way to do that? Save your customers time. That’s it. Save your customers time and whatever you provide – be it product, service or both – becomes exponentially more valuable to them. Time, as we all know, is the only truly non-renewable resource. What’s more, Solomon says you don’t need to exceed client expectations, but rather set the bar (high, middle or low) and hit that mark every time, at every single interaction. Customers’ expectations are determined by what you promise, so if you set the bar high and don’t deliver every single time, they’re ultimately let down. If customers know what to expect AND those expectations are met 100% of the time, their level of loyalty to your business increases as time goes on.

But why just “satisfied”? Here’s the equation as I see it: Expectations plus consistency equals loyalty.

Don’t seek to impress the hell out of your customers one day, and then provide mediocre service along the way after they’ve signed a contract. Those are the important 96% of your client base whom you can turn from satisfied customers into loyal customers.