In the business world, you always hear people talking about customer loyalty and retention. But if you go beyond the buzzwords, what does it take to make new customers stick with you in the long run?

Before you even start thinking about loyal customers, take a step back and look at your business…

WHAT LEVEL OF SERVICE DO YOU OFFER?

If you don’t have an immediate — and firm — answer to this question, take another step back. Retention strategies are the least of your worries… 

Be honest and ask yourself: 

  • Are you a budget inn or a five-star hotel? 
  • Is your customer base looking for the next bargain or a high-value investment?
  • Do you offer a stellar customer experience — or are you just another business in an oversaturated market?

I hope you get the idea by now. 

The quality of service you provide will determine the quality of your customers. 

And which type of customers do you think will be coming back to your business over and over again?

THE MORE YOU’RE ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE A SERVICE-ORIENTED ATTITUDE, THE MORE MONEY YOU’LL MAKE WITH HIGH-LEVEL CUSTOMERS. 

Now that you have your priorities right, you can start looking at how to attract and keep these golden clients.

So, How Do You Master Long-Term Customer Loyalty and Retention?

Not everyone is going to agree with the customer retention strategies I’m about to share with you…

Usually, you’ll hear corporate folks go on and on about things like NPS (Net Promoter Score), CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), complicated loyalty programs, and whatnot.

But I’m here to cut through the nonsense and tell you like it is. 

Some will say the techniques I’m going to cover are unconventional. Excessive. Unreasonable, even.

Good.

My obsession with world-class service has resulted in a massive 10X community with more repeat customers than I can keep track of.

So, without further ado, here’s how you can do it, too.

1. Understand That NOT All Customers Are Equal

I know everyone wants to believe that all customers should be treated equally. 

But the truth is… there’s a tremendous difference between prospects and existing customers.

In order to provide the highest level of customer service, you need to understand where the person is in the buying cycle.

Let’s say you have a customer generally researching your brand online. Another expresses interest in a direct message on social media. Then there’s the one you’re about to deliver your product or service to.

Do you think the researcher should be treated the same as the sold customer? 

Of course not. There are different opportunities at each level. And the way you adapt your service to every customer can make or break their loyalty. 

2. Don’t Fall for the ‘Low Price’ Trap

Let me illustrate this one for you with a great story. 

This lesson comes from an entrepreneur who took hold of 1/4 of the American marketplace at the turn of the century…

I’m talking about James Cash Penney, the founder of the department store chain JCPenney.

Penney began as a partner in two department stores in the late 1800s. After buying out his partners, he renamed it The Golden Rule Store, which reflected his service-driven policy. 

“COURTESY TREATMENT WILL MAKE A CUSTOMER A WALKING ADVERTISEMENT.”

— James Cash Penney

This “golden rule” policy helped him open 893 other stores by the year 1958. The department chain even grew throughout the Great Depression. Old JC built a successful brand on this concept of service and value to customers.

But violating their own principles is what caused the later downfall of this retail giant.

The year 2012 was an economic recession for America. Consequently, the company stopped providing service… and started slashing prices. 

That very year, JCPenney lost one billion dollars. And to this day, stores continue to close across the country.

What’s the big takeaway here?

Service is senior to price

Not low prices — but providing the customized service each kind of customer needs is key to unlocking their loyalty.

3. Overdeliver Confidence No Matter What

I’ve talked about how this idea of “underpromising and overdelivering” is complete and utter BS. 

How do you expect customers to be in it for the long haul if you aren’t 100% confident in serving them?

There’s no room for moderation here. Make BIG claims with unwavering confidence. Do whatever it takes to get the job done. And exceed all customer expectations in the process.

When communicating with clients, make statements that exude conviction:

  • I can handle it.
  • Leave it with me.
  • I have the solution.

Confidence is the glue that holds customer relationships together. Commit first and figure out the rest later.

4. Get REAL People on the Phone

Believe it or not, the #1 complaint customers have is NOT being able to get a human on the phone. 

When customers call with a question or concern, they don’t want automation. These people want to talk to other people to solve their problems.

I mean, put yourself in their shoes. You have an issue you tried to fix online. FAQs didn’t help. Live chat didn’t either. You’re already irritated when you pick up the phone… 

Then imagine being pushed to a robot. This machine is only going to make things worse for you.

So, as a business owner, the real solution here is to always have a live customer support person available

It doesn’t matter how much it costs. If you have any hopes of getting this customer loyalty and retention thing right, you’ll make the commitment to have a real human in there to answer the phones.

Also, having someone pick up isn’t enough. Most importantly, the designated employee needs to maintain a GREAT attitude in every call.

5. Go Overboard with Positivity

This leads me to one of the most powerful ways of all to increase customer retention rate…

As simple as it sounds, maintaining a positive demeanor at all times can change everything for you.

No matter how ridiculous, aggressive, or overwhelming the customer gets, it’s your job to stay professional with a permanent can-do attitude.

Otherwise, there will be negativity on both ends, and the situation will only escalate. 

Somebody has to stay calm, rational, and positive. That person has to be you. And it will only make your business more attractive for the customer. 

NEGATIVITY WILL ALWAYS SURRENDER TO THE POSITIVE.

It can be tough at times, especially if you haven’t committed to this mindset before. But if you master the confidence piece I shared with you earlier, you’ll see how positivity becomes a direct result of it.

Here are some positive phrases you can work into your customer communications:

  • I know you haven’t had pleasant experiences with other businesses. Let me change all that for you right now.
  • Thank you so much for educating yourself on the product. I love working with informed customers.
  • Allow me to handle all of this for you right now. I appreciate you reaching out and I want to earn your business every step of the way. 

This approach alone will set you apart from 80% of the businesses in your industry. People will spend more money on things that make them feel good than the things they need.

6. Follow-Up with Uncomfortable Questions

Oftentimes, businesses use follow-up only as a tool to get closer to the sale. Yet every stage during and after the customer buys is critical for retention and loyalty.

Start with the point of delivery. As you overdeliver what was promised, be the first to ask all the hard questions:

  • Are you 100% happy with your purchase?
  • Did you receive all the information you needed?
  • If there was one thing I could do for you right now, what would it be?
  • Did I exceed your expectations?
  • How could I have created even more value for you with this product/service?

Ask these uncomfortable questions even if the customer doesn’t buy. Be willing to go the extra mile with any person who comes into contact with your company. 

That’s how you dominate your market. 

7. Be Obsessed with Staying in Touch

After the initial exit survey, you need to have your long-term follow-up strategy in mind. 

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THIS CUSTOMER?

At this point, the average business will settle for following up once or twice at certain points in time. But I want you to be obsessed and stay connected with high-level service.

Map out how you’ll constantly touch base over time, with each round of follow-up more creative than the last: 

  • Tomorrow
  • Three days
  • One week
  • Two weeks
  • One month, etc.

And that’s only scratching the surface for the immediate month post-sale. 

You’re in this for the long run, just like you’d be with a good friend, family member, spouse, or business partner.

8. Create a Close Family Experience

While most businesses in your industry likely batch buyers into metrics, you have to step up and make them feel like family. That is, if you want to build customer loyalty and retention.

For example, when we host 10X events at our headquarters, my team goes the extra mile to personalize the experience… 

Attendees join our morning meeting, where the whole company gets together to celebrate successes. Many also get a tour of the office, with introductions to the departments that make the magic happen. And that’s before the event even begins. 

Yet how can you create a family environment within your company?

Let’s say you run a local auto repair shop. When a new customer comes in to get their car fixed, create a full-service experience. And I’m not talking about throwing in a bunch of extra repairs, upgrades, or the like.

I WANT YOU TO WELCOME THIS CUSTOMER AS YOU WOULD A GUEST TO A DINNER PARTY YOU’RE HOSTING.

  • Give them a complete tour of your home (in this case, shop)
  • Introduce them to each member of your family (the manager of every department, the team who will be servicing their car, the receptionist — everyone)
  • Get to know the guest and set the foundation for a long-term friendship (figure out their real-time pain points, past experiences with similar services, etc.)

See where I’m heading with this?

If you treat your customers like close friends, they will become part of the extended family. 

For your business, this translates into a higher number of positive testimonials, repeat purchases, word of mouth referrals, and easily retained customers.

But when all is said and done, there’s one secret which has personally helped me and my businesses more than anything else…

My #1 Controversial Strategy for Customer Loyalty and Retention

I’m going to let you in on this game-changing technique in a sec… 

But before I do, I want you to take a close look at the ideas of customer acquisition and customer satisfaction. One refers to getting customers and the other to making them happy. 

People usually separate satisfaction and acquisition, but in my eyes, they’re the same thing.

WITHOUT A CUSTOMER, THERE’S NO ONE TO SATISFY.

A newly acquired customer is a satisfied one. Otherwise, how would you have convinced them to become a customer in the first place?

So, even if you’re committed to improving your loyalty and retention rate, your #1 concern should be customer acquisition.

Let me put this into perspective with some stats… 

The hard truth is that 20% of satisfied customers intend to leave your company for a competitor — no matter how well you treat them.

However, this doesn’t mean you should give up and close shop. Quite the contrary. It should motivate you to level up your service, become obsessed with filling your pipeline, and get your whole team on board.

The way I do this is by offering every person in my company the opportunity to acquire customers. 

All my employees have access to Cardone University to master their sales skills, no matter if they work in finance, web development, or video production.

After training, they can sell any product, event, or service we offer — and earn commissions. And in the process, every team member provides world-class service to each customer they come in contact with.

With this approach, our total number of customers has skyrocketed year after year, resulting in the best possible retention and loyalty rates:

  • Millions of followers across social media platforms, which naturally keep growing
  • Sold-out events in venues that get bigger and bigger
  • Countless “veterans” in our ecosystem who buy ALL of our products and events, knowing the massive value they’ll get every time

Now, go out there, provide exceptional service, and make these results your own reality.

Be Great,

Grant Cardone

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