Travel insights from Joanie Ogg, Publisher of Travel Professional NEWS

Customer Loyalty Techniques

A recent situation where I was victim of identity theft prompted me to write this month’s article about the importance of customer loyalty and techniques we all need to keep top of mind when communicating with our valued customers. I believe if a company as huge as Starbucks spent just a little more money training their call center representatives and teaching them how to “keep” customers, things would have gone much differently in this situation.

Here is my story and I would put money on it that I am just one of many who have fallen victim to credit card fraud utilizing Starbuck’s Preferred Gold Card Program. I have been a loyal card carrying and mobile app user coffee junkie customer of Starbucks for over 13 years. I am not proud of my coffee addiction, but it certainly was a major revenue source for Starbucks! I calculated I probably spent over $1,000 a year at Starbucks.

I was treated so rudely by a Starbucks customer service representative when I discovered and reported the fraudulent activity. I would likely still be a good customer if I had been treated with respect and compassion when my credit card was charged over $900 in a mere 10 minutes’ time. I suspect had this individual been trained and versed in the value of customer loyalty, my divorce from Starbucks would have never happened.

Customer loyalty comes from having a strong and solid relationship with your customers. When they see you as a friend, ally and as a compassionate person they’re reluctant to jump ship. Creating such relationships requires both the right attitude and the right behaviors.

Relationships are Paramount

Always put your relationship with your valued customer before your personal agenda. You may need that sale to make your numbers for the month, however your customers will likely see right through you to that agenda. Put your relationship with your customer first and make it more important than the sale! They will undoubtedly know you have their best interests at heart.

Be Truly Interested

We all love it when someone wants to really know us and has genuine curiosity about better understanding our needs and desires.

Be Consistent

People only offer loyalty to those whom they trust.  Customers decide whether to trust you based upon your day-to-day behavior. If it’s unpredictable, they’ll shy away.  If it’s consistent over time, they’ll know you can be counted on.

Be Vulnerable – Be Human

Building a relationship with your customers requires discovering the areas where you and your customer can work best together. You cannot be all things to all people. It is utterly impossible so be honest and willing to admit your weaknesses and limitations. Your customer will appreciate your sincerity.

Cultivate Your Listening Skills

A meeting with your customers be it by phone, email or in person should be a conversation and not a sales pitch. If you listen more then you talk, you will uncover the secrets to what they “really” want and be able to advise not sell. That is a sure sale!

Be the Professional You Are

People who take the time to achieve a deep understanding of our industry and who always look to continued education in our trade are the ones that customers want to deal with.

Act with Integrity

Never be afraid to take a stand, even when it’s unpopular with your customer. There is no question they need your expert advice and opinion. So, don’t always tell them what you think they want to hear. Tell the honestly how your feel and respect for you will follow.

Have Compassion

The definition of compassion is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself

So here is where my relationship with Starbucks could have gone so differently for them. I was frightened and understandably concerned when I made that call to report the fraudulent charges coming through like rapid-fire on my cell phone. I needed someone to simply be kind and talk me down from the ledge showing compassion for my situation and a willingness to take the time needed to help fix the problem for me. That did not happen and now I will not buy from Starbucks.

About the Author

Joanie Ogg is a 40+-year travel industry executive that has been recognized by all facets of the travel industry. She and her husband, Tom Ogg and son, Andy Ogg own and operate a plethora of websites supporting Travel Professionals with resources and tools to grow their respective businesses. As co-author of a variety of books and publications she has inspired tens of thousands of travel agents attending her presentations and keynotes at trade events, cruise seminars, international trade gatherings and numerous local educational venues throughout the United States. Joanie is a Master Cruise Counselor (MCC) and a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) as well as a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions within the travel industry.

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