How Mid-Market Companies Can Get Back Customer Loyalty

GettyImages-177783084-compressorMISTAKE: Relying too heavily on individual sales representatives to develop and sustain relationships with each customer assigned to them. This is not a good idea for mid-market companies because sales representatives “depend less on the brand,” on which they should be focused, “and more on individual personalities, which come and go,” CustomerThink.com reported.

SOLUTION: Assigning each account to a dedicated, multi-member account team. Team members should be responsible for creating “multiple points of contact, which is a way to diffuse single-source, relationship-driven customer loyalty,” Bob Domenz, founder and CEO of Avenue, told CustomerThink.com.

MISTAKE: Following a generalized, “seat-of-the-pants” approach to fostering loyalty through customer interactions. One example, according to a report from Forrester Research: Instructing staff that your company wants to up the loyalty ante by “delighting” its customers—and leaving the rest to them.

SOLUTION: Large companies aren’t the only ones that need to adopt a customer experience strategy to “focus the organization on delivering the right type of customer interactions”—i.e., those that produce a higher degree of customer loyalty. Devise a customer experience strategy that aligns closely with “the specifics of your corporate strategy and brand,” Forrester suggested in its report.

MISTAKE: Operating like all loyal customers are created equal. While customer loyalty can “keep people doing business with you,” according to the National Center for the Middle Market blog, there are multiple definitions of “customer loyalty,” and not all are favorable. Some customers may continue to do business with a company because no obvious or readily available alternative exists. Such customers’ loyalty might also center on a particular product feature, price, or ongoing discount. It could be the product of an appreciation for a type of bribery. “These reasons don’t help because the customer feels affinity to a particular circumstance and not to your brand or product,” the blog stated. “Not all customers will ever feel enough of a connection to your business to become brand ambassadors.”

SOLUTION: Focus your efforts on “super customers” who could become fiercely loyal. To identify these customers, the blog suggested, look at customers’ past behavior, using big data systems, software, and expertise to properly segment them. Try to identify which customers buy regularly or in large quantities, as well as which customers have “stayed” with your company for the longest duration.  Assess, too, whether there are customers who have convinced others to do business with your company. These are your best bets for long-term loyalty.

MISTAKE: Putting branding on the back burner. Branding in mid-market organizations often becomes a second-level priority, Domenz said. These companies then miss opportunities to build long-term results.

SOLUTION: Set an early focus on marketing the brand as an executive function that exists alongside sales, rather than simply operating as a sales support function. Treat marketing and sales as equal priorities. Ensure that departments work together to meet objectives that include bolstering customer loyalty by touting the brand and its identity.

Customer loyalty will never be the only factor in middle-market companies’ success—but it will always be an important one. Making a concerted effort to avoid giving it away should be a priority for your  organization now and in the future.

 

 

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Julie Ritzer Ross
Julie Ritzer Ross has been covering all facets of business in a variety of vertical markets, including manufacturing, for the past 35 years and the use of technology in business for the past 25 years. A two-time winner of a Jesse H. Neal Award for business-to-business journalism, her work has appeared in such publications as MICROSOFT EXECUTIVE CIRCLE, CONSUMER GOODS TECHNOLOGY (formerly CONSUMER GOODS MANUFACTURER), VERTICAL SYSTEMS RESELLER, RESELLER MANAGEMENT, RIS NEWS, and INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS.

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