A Customer for Life: Sorbet

Making – and keeping – loyal customers starts with you.


A Customer for Life: Sorbet

The business landscape is tough. Competition is even tougher – no matter which sector you’re operating in. So how do you make sure you stay ahead of the pack?

According to Ian Fuhr, Sorbet’s founder and franchisor, the answer lies in customers. More customers mean more sales, and more sales mean more profits, but how do you ensure your customers keep coming back for more?

While fostering customer loyalty is an obvious answer, simply satisfying a customer is not enough. “Many business owners and franchisees believe that if you’ve been able to satisfy the customer, you must have been successful,” says Fuhr. “This is far from the truth. In fact, customer satisfaction only goes half-way in terms of great service.”

Loyalty is born

According to Fuhr, when a customer arrives at your business, they have certain expectations of the forthcoming experience, service or product they are purchasing.“If you’re able to meet these expectations, your customer will be satisfied,” he says. “No more and no less. In fact, everything will be fine. But that’s it. Just fine.”

‘Just fine’ experiences of your brand or store might lead to the customer returning – but it certainly won’t prevent them from trying out your competitor.

“Customers whose expectations haven’t been exceeded won’t feel guilty about leaving you because you haven’t created an emotional attachment to your business. They’ve paid for what you gave them. No more, no less.”

Simply put, loyalty is born when customer expectations are exceeded. “When a customer walks away thinking, ‘Wow, that was great,’ and they want to tell other people about their experience is when you start fostering loyalty,” says Fuhr.

Crash and burn

Before we take a look at loyalty creators, here are a few examples of poor service that will destroy loyalty:

  • You show no personal interest in your customers.
  • A poor response time to queries and complaints.
  • Unavailability. Nothing frustrates customers more than when they can’t get the service or stock they require.
  • Long waits for the phone to be answered or in a queue to get served. »
  • An unfriendly person at the front line. If you’re happy, smile.
  • Argumentative staff who believe it’s more important to be proved right than to keep the customer.
  • Promises not kept. Customers are like elephants… they never forget.
  • Poor product knowledge and insufficient staff to handle demand.

Brand building

On the other hand, here are some examples of what you can do to build loyalty:

  • Go the extra mile to create a memorable customer experience.
  • Surprise the customer with random acts of kindness.
  • Make customers feel important.
  • Do whatever it takes to exceed the customer’s needs and wants.
  • Never use the word “No.” Start every response on a positive note, even if you can’t help them.
  • Turn the negative into a positive. A complaint is a gift, an opportunity to create a loyal customer.
  • Never use the company policies as an excuse for poor service.
  • Don’t be afraid to give refunds. This helps to secure loyalty. Always see the long-term benefits of refunding customers as opposed to the short-term losses.

”Customers don’t make up stories about your business,” says Fuhr.

“You’re the one who creates these stories – they just repeat them. What stories they tell and how they feel is entirely up to you. “You need customers who are brand ambassadors. They have an emotional attachment to your brand that keeps them coming back and encouraging others to do the same. That true loyalty only comes from superior customer service.”

Nadine Todd
About the Author
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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