This question has spurred hundreds, if not thousands of books, articles, and programs during the past few decades. In the never-ending quest to find the “magic theory” which would instantly transform every customer into a loyal lifetime customer, we have lost sight of the basic fundamental truth about customer loyalty.

Customer loyalty is earned by practicing the three components of customer care. Only after we have come to understand, embrace and embody this powerful truth can we begin to earn the customers' loyalty.

The three components of customer care are customer service, customer satisfaction, and customer retention. These components are all separate, independent, and essential entities. Yet, each is interconnected and extremely dependent upon the other. Only when all of these components are working together in harmony and unison can the pinnacle of customer loyalty be obtained.

Let us briefly examine each element of customer loyalty.

Customer Service:
Customer Service is the act and spirit of serving the customer. Customer service is not only how you serve the customer it represents the true essence of a company’s existence.

The degree to which service is provided is a direct manifestation, reflection, and the execution of a company’s values, philosophy, and ethics. The employees’ beliefs, attitudes, and behavior have a dramatic and profound impact on the level of service that is provided.

Customer service is the foundational building block upon which customer satisfaction, customer retention, and ultimately customer loyalty is built.

Customer Satisfaction:
Customer Satisfaction is the achievement of meeting the customer’s expectations. The level of customer satisfaction is directly proportional to how well a company anticipates, understands, and meets their customer’s expectations.

Customer’s expectations are constantly changing. They are always in a state of flux and forever evolving. Thus, customer satisfaction must never be taken for granted. Companies must vigorously strive to define and exceed the customer expectations at all times to insure a high level of customer satisfaction.

The customer’s expectations encompass all aspects of a service experience. Expectations are formed prior to, during, and after each interaction with a company. Some of the factors which effect the customer’s expectations are advertising, prior experiences, influences from other people, personal beliefs and attitudes, preconceived impressions, and the overall atmosphere of the experience.

A high level customer satisfaction plus excellent customer service will produce customer retention.

Customer Retention:
Customer retention is the process of building relationships with current customers. Customer relationships are born by fulfilling the customer’s wants, needs, and/or desires. The relationship is then natured by customer service. The relationship blossoms and matures through customer satisfaction.

True customer retention is beyond merely initiating the latest business strategy or technique. The process is more involved than relying on an advertising campaign to foster customer retention. Retaining customers is even more complex than implementing any type of repeat buyer or reward program.

Customer relationships, like any other, require a strong unwavering commitment, complete dedication, and continual perseverance to survive and grow.

The deeper the relationship, the stronger the bond between a customer and a company, the greater likelihood the customer will continue to do business with the company. The longer a customer is retained, the more loyal they will become.

Do you want to earn your customer’s loyalty?
Improve your customer service, customer satisfaction, and your customer retention.

“Repeat business or behavior can be bribed. Loyalty has to be earned.” - Janet Robinson

Author's Bio: 

I teach companies how to build customer loyalty.

With over 30 years experience in the customer care arena I have developed a intuitive understating of how customer service influences profitability, how customer retention impacts revenue, and how customer loyalty effects growth.

My expertise is in defining the “Why” and “How To” in achieving customer satisfaction, then moving companies beyond customer satisfaction into the realm of customer loyalty.

My mission is to educate, motivate, and inspire others to service excellence.