If you had an overlooked asset that could be helping to grow your business, wouldn’t you want to know about it? At most companies, there is just such an overlooked resource: your invaluable customers. My passion for quality and my background managing customer experiences have made me increasingly aware of the strong correlation between customer loyalty and success in building a recurring revenue stream.The basic chain of effects is straightforward: higher customer loyalty leads to increased repeat business, which in turn facilitates greater profitability. However, for companies that achieve the highest levels of customer loyalty, these effects are amplified. There is an important distinction to be made between customer satisfaction, which comes from achieving some minimal requirement, and customer loyalty, which is a long-term result of consistent excellence. Exceptionally happy customers not only continue the business relationship; they are highly likely to refer additional customers. This may seem simple as concepts, but putting these principles into action for your business can be a significant challenge.
In quality management, the three key elements are people, process, and products; this is often referred to as the 3P approach. For your customers, the voice at the other end of the phone or the face visiting your establishment is the embodiment of your business. A strategic commitment to customer loyalty is your best plan for making sure that front line contact is positive. Here at Aria, we see this strategy producing tangible benefits in our own efforts. We strive to recruit and train outstanding employees and constantly improve our processes and products.
Refining your internal processes into best practices not only takes care of your customers; it streamlines your business for maximum efficiency. Matching your highly skilled staff with best practices and the quality products and services you produce and resell is the best approach for achieving exceptional customer retention.
The obvious question to ask is how you can measure progress in customer loyalty. Fortunately, you’re not on your own to search for answers. There are both subjective and objective approaches to measuring your progress, but they all tend to focus on the satisfaction, retention, advocacy, and repeat purchases your business inspires in customers.
In the past, every business was forced to invest resources into developing a proprietary measurement of customer loyalty. As we increasingly look toward hard data to guide our relationship marketing efforts, industry standards for loyalty metrics have begun to emerge. One approach is the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. Loyalty metrics help your business find out where you are now, plan where you want to go, and measure your progress toward that goal.
High quality customer experiences are somehow still rare things, and customers will notice your efforts. Once you have achieved the upper echelons of customer loyalty, the key to staying on top is reliability. Once your business consistently achieves and exceeds expected outcomes, converting customer recommendations becomes your best source of new business.
Working with the quality team at Aria, I have personally witnessed the results of putting these concepts to work. In the quest to develop strong recurring revenues and consistent profitability, creating exceptional relationships is a proven method for turning your customers into evangelists for your products and services.
Shantha Shanmugham, Aria Systems
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