Welcome to Why Customers Come Back. This book might have been titled What You Can Do to Get Your Customers to Come Back because what I have written about is what motivates customers to do business with you and how you can use this information to develop a customer base that returns to do business with you again and again.
During the past nearly 30 years, I have studied and learned about customers and their buying habits and experiences. What has evolved from this study is the understanding that five principles determine customer loyalty. I did not invent these principles; however, I did discover them and put them into a concise and learnable form. These principles were scattered in hundreds of books and articles. They were discussed in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of interviews with consumers, captains of industry, and business leaders. Each source knew this small piece or that tiny part, but no one source was familiar with all five principles. I have learned that any one of the five principles will increase loyalty, but when all five principles are put to use, the results are astounding. My intent in writing this book is to share what I have learned from my research.
Many of the people who appear in this book and are used for illustration purposes are actually composites of several people I have known or continue to deal with. However, in no case are the examples purely fictional: Every example is grounded in real experiences.
The principles that are discussed in this book are not theories, but instead are based on the actual buying habits and experiences of loyal customers. As I have traveled, visiting and speaking with business owners, corporate executives, consumers, and various business groups and associations, several truths have emerged. These truths and the stories that support them are what Why Customers Come Back is all about.
When this book was first proposed and as it was being written, my publisher and editor asked, "Who will this book benefit most?" To understand who might benefit from this book, the conversation should start with, "Who has customers?" Everyone does not deal with traditional external customers, but all of us do have internal customers. The principles that create customer loyalty apply to all customers. The answer, then, is that we all have customers and the principles that create loyalty apply equally to both internal and external customers. However, please note this book is not a compilation of sales techniques. In fact, this book will not help salespeople prospect, close sales, or do any of the things that traditional sales books describe. This book is about a larger relationship between you and your customers.
Many businesses display banners proclaiming, "Build Customer Loyalty!" but offer no training or tools to accomplish that mission. This is the moral equivalent of an athletic coach cupping his hands around his mouth and yelling at his players, "Score more points!" Scoring more points is no more intuitive than building customer loyalty. "More points" and "customer loyalty" are outcomes that occur because the participants are executing specific and certain activities that promote the results. The exhortation is meaningless without knowledge of the activity that will produce the result.
Why Customers Come Back is not about yelling, "Build Customer Loyalty!" This book is about discovering the motivation and characteristics of loyal customers, the advantages of dealing with loyal customers, and most importantly, what each of us can do to create loyalty with our customers.
Companies tend to ask the question, "Which of our customers are most loyal?" I see hundreds of Websites, consulting services, and books that want to help businesses by determining who their loyal customers might be. The whole exercise revolves around identifying specific customers or groups of customers. This thinking ultimately blames customers for their disloyalty or believes loyalty to be a characteristic of only some customers. Further, the act of identifying loyal customers only identifies them as loyal and doesn't reveal why they are loyal.
Customers have no interest whatsoever in loyalty. They only buy products and services that satisfy their own needs. Customer loyalty is a response to how a business presents its products and services. The only reason anyone buys anything is because they want to buy it. No one has an obligation to continue buying from any business. Your customers continue to buy from you because of the relationship you have with them of offering your products and services in a way that appeals to them.
Is the customer to blame when a company fails to provide products and services in an appealing manner? Does it make sense to call a customer disloyal because a company is not doing the things that appeal to the customer and they shop someplace else? When competition offers better products, lower prices, or some other advantage, should your customer continue doing business with you?
Customers are self-serving: Their only interest is to deal with a business that gives them what they want. Customers are not inherently loyal or disloyal; loyalty is not a characteristic of customers, it is a customer's response to the actions of you and your business.
The question should never be, "Which of our customers are most loyal?" or "Why aren't our customers more loyal?" The question should always be, "What can we do to make the customer want to come back?" The issue of customer loyalty is central to the business, not to the customer.
This book is about working with current customers to develop lasting loyalty. I believe that the concepts and stories presented here will benefit everyone who has customers. No business is exempt from the benefit of dealing wiht loyal customers.
As I write these words, it is October 2003. The U.S. economy has been slow to rebound, and while there have been positive signs of growth, many businesses and professionals continue to suffer with lackluster performance and reduced profits.
Customer loyalty is the answer today as it has been in the past and will be in the future. Loyal customers are easier to do business with, are more predictable, and don't carry the expense associated with attracting new customers. Companies with a loyal customer base enjoy greater profitability in good economic times and depend on their loyal customers to help them survive difficult financial conditions.
American businesses typically attempt to create loyalty through customer satisfaction and special incentives. The satisfaction movement began 20 years ago with the release of Tom Peters' classic book In Search of Excellence. The book spawned hundreds of copycat books and seminars, but despite all the effort to increase customer satisfaction, disciples of the customer satisfaction movement don't see any more customer loyalty today then they did 20 years ago. This book answers the question, "If satisfaction doesn't create loyal customers, what does?"
I hope you enjoy this book, but more importantly, I hope you put into practice the principles that create customer loyalty. Creating customer loyalty is the single most important and beneficial endeavor for every business.