A Review of “Building Customer Loyalty” by Noah Fleming
By Kevin Howard
Customer acquisition can be one of the most expensive, yet profitable investments a private practice can make.
Keeping customers coming to your private practice for their acute and long-term physical therapy needs, can, in the long run, increases the lifetime value of your customer. Noah Fleming describes the four stages of the customer loyalty loop and how to apply them in your business in the LinkedIn Learning course, “Building Customer Loyalty.”
WHAT IS CUSTOMER LOYALTY
Fleming explains that customer loyalty is defined differently depending on the business. According to Fleming, loyalty is a feeling created by the business’s efforts—an emotional bond created between customer and business.
“Loyalty has very little to do with the customer and everything to do with how you’re creating loyalty,” Fleming said.
He explains that loyal customers often are not swayed by pricing or issues with service or product delivery. What matters is the customer loyalty strategy behind how the business operates. The following four strategies comprise the customer loyalty loop which, according to Fleming, can help create the emotional bond that builds long-lasting customer loyalty.
STAGE ONE: IMAGINATION BEFORE PERSUASION
According to Fleming, the customer loyalty loop is initiated long before a sale is ever made. It starts when a prospective customer is first exposed to your practice’s sales, marketing, and advertising efforts. This can be when they see a brochure or find your practice on an internet search. These initial encounters will build impressions and memories of your practice and, when they are in need of your services, they will remember your practice because of these efforts.
Fleming breaks it down further into two steps:
- Companies tend to over-promise and under-deliver. This can really put a red mark on how customers and potential customers view your practice. Review your marketing regularly to stop under-delivering in its tracks.
- Use preemptive marketing as a way to plant the seed of memory inside a perspective customer’s head. Cut through the noise by creating a story that is compelling enough for prospective customers to pay attention and remember.
STAGE TWO: CONVERSATION NOT COERCION
When a customer makes an inquiry about your practice, either by phone call, email, or through social media, what kind of experience will they receive? According to Fleming, while a phone call from a prospective customer might sound mundane, that customer has now entered your business sales process.
For a lot of people, getting a hold of any business can be unbelievably frustrating. How many times did the phone ring before someone picked up the phone? How long does it take someone to email or message back? Prospective and returning customers will remember these interactions when deciding if they are interested in receiving treatment from your practice.
Another point Fleming makes is that companies try to coerce a sale too quickly instead of providing a memorable and valuable experience. Try calling your own business and see how the experience is handled or send an anonymous inquiry about your services through your website. You might be surprised to find out how things are handled.
STAGE THREE: EXPERIENCE CHOREOGRAPHY
After officially converting a potential customer into a customer, it’s time to think about how the customer’s experience changes after they’ve engaged your practice for their care.
Assess your beginnings, says Fleming. Take a deep dive into your practice’s customer onboarding process. He asks businesses to map out the first 90 days from when a prospect becomes a customer. This will allow business owners to better understand what needs improving or not.
Next, Fleming asks business owners to create opportunities that have a positive impact and memories for a customer. One remarkable moment can lead to a customer returning for their physical therapy needs for years to come.
Last, consider how the experience ends for customers, because even a great experience can be completely ruined by a lousy ending. Is the payment process frustrating? Does a front-end employee make it difficult for a customer to schedule another appointment?
Assessing these first steps of a customer’s initial experience can lead to happier and returning customers and put your practice above the competition.
STAGE FOUR: HAPPILY EVER AFTER
It’s not up to the customer to become a repeat customer, said Fleming, it’s up to you, the practice owner, to get them to come back. Businesses often forget to focus on past customers because they’re too focused on the thrill of winning new customers.
Ask yourself, how long should you wait after a transaction to make the next contact with the customer? Some companies wait months, but if you wait 10 to 15 days, that purchase is still fresh in their minds, provided it was a good experience.
According to Fleming, you need the right outreach that uses the Meaningful, Memorable, and Personal (MMP) Principle. This can include, sending a handwritten note shortly after a purchase or making a personal phone call.
If you treat the customer right after the initial sale or service, they will remember what you’ve done and become a loyal returning customer or become a valuable source of referrals. It pays to invest in building customer loyalty!
Kevin Howard is a staff writer for PPS. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.