Ask yourself these questions:
How do I define success?
At what point can I proclaim myself successful?
Is my success tied to the accomplishment of a goal?
Is my success defined as progress toward the continuing development of a relationship?
Am I more interested in new customers or furthering the relationship with each of my existing customers?
How am I currently demonstrating my desire to develop loyal customers?
Do I think of and treat the people I do business with as loyal customers?
What evidence do my customers have of my belief in their loyalty?
Do my actions support my beliefs?
The law of life is the law of expectation. You don't always get what you want, but you do always get what you truly expect. Your thoughts and actions support your truest beliefs. We think we must have loyal customers first, but the truth is that we must believe before we see. Are you doing those things that bolster your belief, or are you waiting to see loyal customers first?
The external world we see does not cause us to think or act a certain way. Instead, the external world we see is a product of our internal thinking. Our thinking becomes objectified. What we think becomes our reality: It is our thinking that causes our external world. No matter what is taking place in the world today, it started as a thought in someone's mind. The external world is an effect; our thinking is the cause. What we think causes the effect we see. You can change how you think about your business and your customers at this very moment, and your thinking will cause a change. The effect of your thinking will be whatever you truly believe. Your deepest beliefs determine your expectations. Remember, the law of life is the law of expectation.
When you believe in the value and abundance of loyal customers, all of your actions will support this belief. You will think about and treat your customers as loyal. You will conduct your business with them as individuals, as people doing business with people. They will recognize their importance through your behavior. Your business will be perceived as different because it is different. Your products have value and you offer assurances. Your customers appreciate your value proposition and are assured they are doing business with the right people. You communicate effectively with your customers. Your customers recognize your interest and sincerity and feel like they are an integral part of your business. Your concentration is focused on your loyal customers. Your business is committed to creating loyalty. Your customers understand your commitment and freely recommend you to their families, friends, and business associates.
On August 24, 1992, hurricane Andrew made landfall on the southern-most tip of Florida. Andrew accounted for 43 deaths and the destruction of 86,000 single-family homes. The estimated damage from Andrew was $16 billion. The resulting insurance claims caused several small insurers to go out of business. Several large insurers paid their claims and discontinued selling insurance in Florida. They felt the cost of doing business in a hurricane-prone area was too great.
State Farm Insurance Company also suffered substantial losses, but instead of paying its claims and retracting from the area, State Farm made a further commitment to its Florida policyholders. State Farm felt it had spent a lot of time and money developing a base of loyal customers and it did not want to give up its most valuable asset. Not only did State Farm continue coverage for victims of hurricane Andrew, it paid more in claims than it was required to. Many of State Farm's policyholders suffered wind damage to the roofs of their homes. Houses built prior to Hurricane Andrew did not have to meet government Hurricane Standards. State Farm gave its policyholders additional funds, in many cases more than $1000 additional, to make their homes comply with the new Hurricane Standards for roofing. State Farm reasoned that it would stay in the Florida market-place and would benefit from insuring homes that were safer. State Farm clearly focused on building and maintaining relationships that create loyalty.
Trish works in sales at a radio station in California. She is consistently the number-one salesperson at her station. Most of the other salespeople spend a substantial portion of each day prospecting for new advertisers, but Trish seldom prospects. Her day is filled with dealing with loyal customers.
Trish began her advertising career to support herself while she was attending the University of Southern California. She started at the station the summer after completing her sophomore year. The money was good and she loved her job.
Trish hated prospecting but she loved working with the few clients the station had assigned her. Instead of making phone calls and stopping in to see prospects, Trish spent all her time catering to the few existing customers she had. She reviewed her clients' current and historic advertising schedules. She compared the advertising fees these businesses were paying to the results they were getting. She was totally committed to helping these businesses maximize the results from advertising on her station. She never thought about a client canceling its advertising. All of her thoughts were on improving results. Trish thought of herself as her client's partner in a mutual quest to grow its business through advertising.
Many times Trish was able to reduce the amount a customer was spending on advertising while increasing the results. Better-written and better-produced advertising brought more business to her clients. Careful scheduling of advertisements for specific target audiences allowed her clients to reduce the amount of ads while increasing traffic to their businesses. Trish's clients loved her: They appreciated the work she did and they loved to recommend Trish to their business friends and associates. Trish has never had to prospect because her loyal customers are prospecting for her every day. Trish never returned to the University of Southern California because she was making too much money and would have hated to leave her customers.
As an exercise, examine your thoughts about new customers. How much effort and time do you spend on prospecting or otherwise trying to attract new customers? If given a choice, do you give preferential treatment to new customers? Do first-time buyers get a discount or incentive? Do you receive an incentive or additional compensation for bringing in new customers?
Examine your thoughts about repeat customers. Do you recognize each of the three benefits of loyal customers (cost of attraction, ease of doing business, and predictability) when you are dealing with a repeat customer? Are you using each of these benefits to maximize your productivity? Loyal customers are predictable. They buy your product or service on a repeat basis. Are you using this predictability to prepare for their next purchase? Are you using this predictability to help them schedule their next purchase or their next meeting with you? Loyal customers are easier to do business with because you are familiar with them and what they want. Are you using this familiarity and the history of your relationship to make every transaction better and more efficient than the last? Loyal customers are already doing business with you; you do not have a cost in time or money to attract these customers. Do you recognize these savings in evaluating your profitability?
As you examine the benefits and commit to focusing on loyal customers, you are reinforcing your beliefs. You are setting your expectations.