From the brand of pop you drink to your choice of an attorney, how do you decide to be a loyal customer? For most people, these are the elements that drive people to choose the same store, professional service, brand of food or drink and restaurant:
- Ease of attachment. This can mean anything from being conveniently located to being easy to get in and out. This changes with demographics. Younger people might prefer malls to boutiques because of the browsing capabilities. Older people consider parking and even safety. But ease of attachment can also mean availability and the ease with which you can attend to your tasks whether it’s shopping, being seen by the doctor or getting a prescription refilled.
- Feelings of belonging. Going to your “regular”grocery store means you know where things are located, nothing is unexpected. Going into your favorite restaurant is made more special when you are greeted as if you are a regular. At the doctor’s office, hearing your name pronounced incorrectly is an instant turnoff. (Note to pediatricians: don’t call the mothers “Mom”; you aren’t our child.)
- Feeling a balance of expectations met and stimulation by new things, too. You want your lawyér’s office to be familiar, but interesting new artwork is also ok. Receiving an email from your old realtor doesn’t bother you, but it’s more important that she knows you by name at the neighborhood block party.
- Sense of pride in brand loyalty: Yes, you drink Diet Coke for breakfast and yes, that’s the place you get your glasses. You’re proud of both and able to tell why.
- Shared loyalty with people you trust and admire: When others also tell you about their good experience at your cardiologist or the new restaurant you’ve discovered, it corroborates your good decision making. You feel even a little more popular and in the “in crowd”.
So, if those things drive you to be loyal to a brand, ask yourself this:
- How easy it is for people to attach to my small business?
- How do I make customers, clients, patients feel a sense of belonging?
- How do I ensure consistency and innovation at the same time?
- What is the word of mouth about me and my small business? What can I do to to encourage that?
- Who are people who are the most loyal to me? Ask them why and ask them if they are willing to help you with a testimonial on a website or social media post? Get a picture of them at your establishment (unless HIPAA forbids it!)
One of the most difficult thinking tasks is to look at our own enterprises from the outside in and ask ourselves about the experience of a new person walking in the door or landing at our website or seeing our post. Taking the time to consider what makes us loyal allows us to examine our businesses through a very important lens.