What does reciprocity in business mean to you? For most business owners, business is simply the exchange of payment for goods and services, essentially the sale. When you give a customer your product or service, you expect payment in return. The customer also expects to give you something in return for something valuable.
Some businesses even take advantage of a customer’s natural inkling to reciprocate to try and seal the deal. (Free samples at the grocery store, anyone?)
But the customer journey doesn’t end with the sale. If your view of reciprocity ends here, you’re leaving money on the table. A sale isn’t a sale until the customer is thrilled with the result they were after in the first place.
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Focus on that and you’ll earn a lifetime of loyalty.
The Value of Loyalty
Customer loyalty is a tricky thing to earn, and an even trickier thing to keep. It takes a nearly perfect customer experience to earn loyalty in the first place. If you wrong the customer at any point, the difficulties you’ll face earning their loyalty will compound.
Even if you earn their trust, dedication and referral, wrong any of their friends and their loyalty could be lost.
The bottom line: nothing is more valuable than customer loyalty.
And, as with anything of value, you must be willing to reciprocate something of equal value to them.
Exceeding Customer Expectations
The truth is, you can’t just give a customer great customer service and expect their loyalty. Every customer expects to be treated well when they make a purchase; most people have lost sight of the value of great service.
Basically, when they pay for your product or service, they believe they are also paying to be treated well.
You have to give them something they are not expecting in exchange for their loyalty. This is the entire premise of content marketing.
The idea here is simple – content marketers strive to earn customer loyalty long before a purchase is made or even considered. The customer trusts you already, so there is never a question from whom they will make a purchase.
The goal of most business blogs, for instance, is to give readers information they need. Take the plumber that gives DIY how-to tips to his readers. This information is valuable, and in some cases helpful enough that someone may not need to hire him or her after reading it, but they trust his or her judgment. If the customers can’t solve a major problem on their own, they will immediately think of our plumber. Their loyalty was never in question.
What Matters Most to Your Customers
To give your customers something of value, you must first find out what they value about working with you. I’ve suggested for years that sometimes you must give a customer or a handful of customers a completely free customer journey; this includes your product or service that you would normally sell.
For smaller stores selling small items, this is easy. One or two free promos won’t hurt the bottom line too much. For other businesses, this may be tougher to swallow. A free tooth cleaning at a dentist may be a more expensive promise.
But if you do, you can then ask for something in exchange from your client. Remember I mentioned using reciprocity in your favor above? Well, use your free customers to gain valuable insight on what they value about your customer experience. Even better, they may be able to help you identify what you’re missing.
The insight that even one customer can provide can prove invaluable to your business. If you use this information to provide better value for your customers, you’re bound to see your customer loyalty grow.