Fostering Customer Loyalty
It costs 8-10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one and on average a returning customer spends 60% more than a new one. Customer loyalty or customer retention is the result of a consistently positive emotional experience and increased user satisfaction.
In order to promote customer loyalty in library land, we need to build a bond with our customers by blending the emotional and value elements of our service and transcribing it into a positive library experience that keeps them coming back for more. So…
Question: Who are you loyal to?
Answer: You are likely loyal to friends, family, peers, maybe Tim Horton’s or Macy’s.
Answer: You are likely loyal because you have an emotional bond with them. You like them and they like you.
So, what are libraries doing to promote loyalty and keep customers coming back?
To begin to answer this question I watched Tom Peters 2 minute video about the importance of customer loyalty. And, if you are still in doubt, I did the math*…
One loyal library customer will borrow in excess of 210 resources and introduces at least 22 new members to the library over 5 years
This level of customer loyalty is impressive, rivaling the loyalty of sports fans, but it should not be taken for granted. There are folks that believe libraries are dead and the internet is god! We need to continue to build customer loyalty by…
- Truly understanding our customers. This is not based on a hunch or tradition but statistical data re: user satisfaction, customer likes and dislikes plus usage patterns. Probing the customer is not just a part of developing the business plan; it needs to be a regular task embedded in a job description.
- Clearly define and then roll out exceptional customer service requires team work at all levels and at all locations i.e. GPL’s Customer Service Pledge
- Keeping in touch with customers i.e. a quarterly eNewsletter. The more customers know about us, the more likely they are to think of us when they are in need.
- Giving customers a reason to return whether it’s personalized service, authoritative resources or an intuitive website.
- Treating customers how they want to be treated.
- Team work and treating staff well so they in turn treat customers well.
- Social media has also profoundly changed customer loyalty patterns by supporting a two way dialogue between the library and the customer. Facebook and Twitter have made it possible to connect in real time with the customer and the whole community. This connection is really important for libraries because now we can;
- Respond to negative comments instantly before they mushroom into a crisis
- Add clarification to issues or policies as they arise and communicate changes or solutions to correct a situation immediately
- Promote the library by adding resource links to the discussion
- Solicit customer comments, dialogue and feedback regularly
Building customer loyalty also requires a thorough understanding of customer values and what is important to them. A great example of knowing your customers can be found at Patagonia, an eco-friendly outdoor apparel company, who created Common Threads, a program designed to reduce manufacturing energy and water consumption plus reduce the use of toxic substances in the manufacturing of their clothing. The smart guys at Patagonia created this partnership because they believe in it and because it aligns with the company’s customer base of eco-friendly outdoor adventurers. Creating this program has resulted in increased customer retention and ultimately more sales. Valuing what their customer’s value has paid off.
Libraries traditionally don’t offer sale coupons or discount codes, but we can create partnerships and provide added value to the customer in ways that will increase their satisfaction and increase the potential for customer retention.
Library customer’s value:
- Convenience i.e. stroller parking, one-click to place a title on reserve, book club sets, and bookmobile service for those who can’t get to the library
- Anything that saves them time i.e. self-check out as long as it’s quicker than standing in line, paying overdue fines online, and story kits for kids’
- New/current resources i.e. bestsellers, databases, games, and TV series on DVD
- Lifelong learning i.e. author readings, programs like learning how to research your family tree and monthly book club discussion meetings
- In Guelph, customers really value:
- The environment and eco-friendly services. So recycling weeded material and running programs like backyard chicken farming or organic gardening keep customers coming back
- Local history. So celebrating the 100th anniversary of the iconic poem In Flanders Fields written by Guelph physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae will definitely increase GPL customer loyalty.
Libraries need to build on their customers values. Keeping our customers coming back for more is really important and it doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a result of consistently providing a positive library experience, team work by all staff and understanding our customers.
Kitty Pope #39 October 2014
*Based on GPL’s 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey the average customer borrows 40.39 resources (print/non print, E resources, etc.) per year x 5 years = 202 resources and introduces 4.2 new customers to the library per year x 5 years = 21 new customers