What is the difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer?

A few months ago, I was having an issue with my car. I took it to a shop that was just a few minutes away from our office. They fixed the issue, communicated with me promptly, and sent me on my way. It was a good experience. I was satisfied.

A few weeks later, I had another issue pop up and took my car back to the same shop. They called me with a quote that seemed a little high, so I did what anyone would do, I called my dad, and asked him what he thought. I ended up taking my car to the shop that my family has used for over 20 years, but was over 20 minutes away from my office. Not only did they find another substantial problem, but they saved me over $700 dollars. Yes, you read that right, $700!

The difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer is that a satisfied customer is just as easily satisfied somewhere else, while a loyal customer will end up coming back to you time and time again, even if it’s inconvenient.

So, how to do you develop a loyal customer base?

1. Focus on Integrity.

No one likes to feel cheated; there is nothing that will drive a customer away faster than feeling like they were taken advantage of. Having a focus on integrity means that you do what you say you’re going to do, AND when you do something wrong, you make it right. Your customers will understand; everyone messes up from time to time. The thing with integrity is that you own up to the mistakes you made and let your customers know how you’ll fix it.

2. Find ways to help your customers.

Obviously, you want to help your customers. But, we have found that when you help people, they want to help you! Think about how you can help your customers be successful, beyond fixing their equipment or having the right parts on hand. To do this, your team needs to be willing to have meaningful conversations with them, and look for ways to provide referrals or other training opportunities. Perhaps they need a windshield repaired on their car, who would you recommend? Or is there a local accountant you would recommend during tax season? Maybe consider hosting a workshop to teach new skills, or learn to operate equipment safely. Finding ways to really help customers can go a long way to producing long term loyalty.

3. Be loyal to your customers.

Know your customers and what they do. Learn about their families, kids, and what is important to them.  If they have children who are involved in activities like Scouts or sports, be intentional in supporting them whenever you can. Maybe it’s as simple as buying Girl Scout cookies from their daughter, or being a sponsor for the local soccer team. If you need to get some yard work done at home, see if one of your customers’ kids are looking for some summer jobs.

We do this exact thing at BCI.  If there is something that we need and one of our customers sells it, we buy it from them!  When you can, be loyal to your customers and they will be loyal to you as well!

Gaining a loyal customer doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not typically something that happens because of just one employee – it is a team effort. Yes, it does take time and effort to transition a customer from satisfied to loyal. However, when you do, you will have your customers continue to come to you and use your services for years to come.