The importance of both internal and external customers should never be taken for granted. Often people quickly connect with the atmosphere of working with external customers but miss the emotional connection internally. Who are the loyal customers and how do we know?
Internal Customer Loyalty
Every organization has a responsibility internally. People are serving other people, other departments, and in one way or another, the sales or production effort. There are customer connections. Internal service is so important because the internal culture is always reflected, in one way or another, in the external brand.
Loyalty in an organization is often measured through the employee turnover metric. Those who stay are loyal. Those who stay have a good internal customer relationship.
Seems logical, except that many believe that they are not staying by choice, they believe they stay because it is a requirement. Requirements to earn a living, feed a family, pay bills, and survive.
External Customer Loyalty
External customers may have a different agenda. It may be easier for them to exit a relationship. There may be many competitive choices and options. In some cases, but certainly not all, they may not feel so trapped. They feel more freedom to choose.
When their automobile is not reliable, they may choose a different brand. If their athletic footwear is uncomfortable or short lived, next time they’ll try a different brand.
It is true for nearly any consumer purchase. Business-to-business is sometimes a little messier, but still doable.
So what are the indicators of loyal customers? Certainly sticking around and repetitive purchases are a good indicator. Lifetime value is an important measurement or metric. What else may be important?
Have you considered that a customer who offers feedback, even the feedback that sounds critical or like a criticism is sign of customer loyalty? Maybe you haven’t thought of it this way, but with so many choices, why bother with feedback?
People who have choices, but choose to stay are loyal for some reason. Offering feedback, even feedback that is critical may be a sign that they want to stay, but they also want to help strengthen the reasons why they stay.
Often people with nothing to say, really don’t care, they don’t mind, they’ll just go.
Feedback or criticism is often viewed as a customer about to exit. Instead, it may be a good customer who wants to stay and help you build it.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.