For all businesses, having customer loyalty is a no-brainer. When you have loyal customers, it means you have people committed to your brand and your business. When product-based companies have loyal customers, it’s because they provide a physical item that customers want and they want it often. For service-based companies, it might not be so easy to keep people coming back for more—especially if you provide a service that isn’t needed frequently.
So can you still have loyal customers even if you’re a service-based company? Absolutely. Here’s how.
What Makes a Customer Loyal?
Considered repeat customers, the ones that are loyal means they choose your business over your competitors and fall under your customer retention list. They also recommend your service, even if they aren’t in need of it again. Usually, you’ve won them over with strategies like excellent customer service, service availability, fair pricing, or strong reviews. Repeat customers tend to spend more money with you if they trust your service and provide your business with a loyal customer base which affects your business growth. And best of all, it costs less to retain happy customers than it does to find new ones.
But as a service-based business, you don’t have a physical product which can make customer loyalty more difficult. As Scorpion client Five Star Painting, franchise owner Lydia put it.
“Unfortunately, we only see our customers one time unless we [paint] their interior and exterior. Then we’ll see them twice, but you know we work with quality premium products, so they don’t call us back for another twelve years. We don’t have that reoccurring customer like most businesses might have.”
In a way, when you do a good job, it means you have achieved customer satisfaction. But it also means the job has come to an end, and it’s time to find another one. It can be daunting even to the most successful service company. But there are strategies you can implement to create loyal customers. And that loyalty means you have quality clients who bring your business retention, referrals, trust, and revenue. So even if the service you provide is few and far between, if you provide excellent care, the impact can be monumental for your business.
Putting the Customer First
Service-based companies usually deal with customers in person. Unlike product-based companies, who may never see their customers, yours are right in front of you. What does that mean? The perception of quality is tied to how they’re treated by you and your staff, whether that’s in a busy clinic, at the courthouse, or in their own home. Your business and the service you provide are the product, and as such, customer service plays a major role in whether you just won a loyal customer for life or a negative review on Yelp.
The key to building customer loyalty is an exceptional customer experience. Because no matter how many loyalty programs you try and launch or referral programs you put in place, if your customers aren’t experiencing the very best from you, they’re not sticking around.
So how can you strive to provide great customer service? To start, make sure you train your technicians to be professional when on the job. If your customers come to the office, make sure your staff is knowledgeable and accommodating. React to customer feedback and use it to improve your offerings. Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Now comes some strategies you can implement to nurture your excellent customer experience.
Building Customer Loyalty
No matter where they go, customers want to feel welcome and taken care of. Whatever loyalty program you develop should include a way to let customers know you care about them and their business. Whether it’s sending out best wishes on their birthday, keeping track of their customer history, or providing discounts for repeat business, your customer should be treated with care. But what else can you do to encourage loyalty? Here’s a few you can try.
Adopt Concrete Communication
Whatever your business, it’s important to keep your customers informed and in contact with you. That can mean helpful texts to remind patients of upcoming appointments or email reminders when household maintenance is coming due. If a customer reaches out, make it a priority to respond to them. Customer surveys can be a great way to collect information on ways to improve. Just be sure to act on them.
It also includes customer engagement on social media. In this digital age, responding to current and future customers is a great way to build relationships and keep your business at the top of their minds. But remember, in the world of social media, it’s not a set it and forget it attitude that will win people over. Interact with your followers by responding to comments, questions, and reposts.
Make Your Brand Values Priority
In your line of work, your reputation is the name of the game. It keeps customers coming back for more and referring others to your business. But how much does reputation really matter? Think of it this way.
If you bought a sweater from a retail shop and the gum-popping sales associate was rude, but the sweater turns into your new favorite piece of clothing, you’ll probably forget about the poor treatment because you’re happy with the product. But if you schedule a repair job for your kitchen sink and the technician is late and abrasive, you’re probably not going to call that plumbing company again in a time of crisis.
In other words, service-based companies provide their “product” on the spot. And that product is you, your team, and the service you perform for them. Your company values and commitment to what your brand stands for are vital if you want to gain loyal customers. Make sure your team understands and represents your values if you want to gain brand loyalty. Commit to providing exceptional service to every customer you come across and the loyalty will follow.
Customer Loyalty Programs
If you’re able to do so, reward programs for customers are one of the strongest ways to gain loyal customers. For an HVAC company, that may mean providing free maintenance for a year if the customer purchases their furnace through you. For a pet grooming company, that may mean you offer a free wash after the customer’s tenth visit.
Other ideas include:
Tiered loyalty programs
Mission-driven customer loyalty programs
Exclusive discounts for returning customers
For other companies, customer loyalty programs or referral incentives may not be an option. For example, lawyers with their own practices are usually barred from asking for referrals or reviews depending on the ethics rules of the state. If that’s the case (pun intended), that means you need to rely on building a reputation for success so that your work speaks for you.
But aside from striving for success in the courtroom, you may want to consider trying to make a positive impact in your community. Scorpion client Hamilton Clarke has a mission of inspiring young people of color in their community that they can do anything or be anything they want. “When we started Hamilton Clarke, the whole purpose was to give people opportunities who necessarily might not have them in bigger institutions.”
If you’re not in a position to ask for referrals, put yourself in a place where your customers will recommend you without hesitation. Because no matter what, people are always going to ask for advice when it comes to service-based situations. And your goal is for your loyal customer to say, “I know a guy.”
Remember, Maintenance Not Repairs
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When you’re a service-based company, if you did your job right, that means you won’t see your customer for a while. But there’s another saying that goes, ‘offer annual maintenance, not repairs.’ Even if your customer interactions are few and far between, you should still provide your best service. Loyal customers aren’t impressed by frequent repair jobs, leaking roofs, or poor service. When you provide quality service, you’re increasing your chances for positive reviews, frequent referrals (which are almost as valuable as loyal customers), and repeat business.
Most people don’t want to spend time hunting for a new dentist or choosing a new HVAC company to rely on. Endear yourself to your customer, and in their time of need, you’ll be the one they think of, and after all, isn’t that the goal?
We're Here to Help
Still need more help? Scorpion provides marketing services that allow you to get back into the business of gaining loyal customers. Reach out to us today to get the help you need to run your best business.