Got Yourself a Loyal Customer? Here’s How to Guarantee Their Loyalty For Life

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This is a post that focuses on the super-loyal customers or clients you already have. These tips aren’t for all of your customers, rather, they’re specifically reserved for your best ones – the ones who already generate the most revenue for your business. We’ll go back to generating Zombie Loyalists out of all your clients in the next post, promise.

Anyhow… I don’t have to tell you how important loyalty is to your business. Countless studies have done that already, with stats galore: “It costs X less to keep a current customer than it does to gain a new one,” or “a loyal customer is Y times more likely to be believed when they say how great you are as opposed to an advertisement.”

So… Two rules:

A) A loyal customer likes you, but can still be tempted by another brand, and can still leave you at any time.

B) A lifelong loyal customer will stay with you through hell or high water, and nothing any other brand can do will ever tempt them away from you.

So – How do you convert A into B? Considering how much effort you’ve spent to get your loyal customers, wouldn’t you sleep a lot better at nig knowing you’ve made them lifelong loyal customers?

The answer is simple: Turn a loyal customer into a lifelong loyal customer simply by doing things that make their lives easier. (Tweet this!)

When a customer is already loyal, they don’t need to be impressed by the simple things – That’s what got them there in the first place. Instead, they’re looking for you to help them simplify. They want you to remove worry form their lives.

Here’s the example that inspired this post, and was completely unexpected: I’ve been loyal to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) for over ten years. They’re my hotel chain, and I make sure that every year I stay at least 25 stays or 50 nights to keep my platinum status. For the past ten years, I’ve made sure that my hotel stays benefit my total nights so I’ll maintain my platinum status, which gives me room upgrades, more points, and just a better loyalty experience. I had no idea how long I’ve been platinum with SPG, all I know is that it’s important to me that I plan accordingly so I continue to make the goals to stay platinum. Sometimes, that involves having to stay at a hotel a distance away from my conference or speech, because I need to make sure I make my nights to keep my status.

So imagine my surprise when, with no prior warning, I get this email in my inbox: (Click for full-size)

Essentially, Starwood has just told me that for the rest of my life, I’ll always be at their top-level of elite status, and I never again have to worry about “making my numbers,” or “counting my nights.”

I don’t have to tell you how huge this is for anyone who travels at all, let alone weekly. This means that every single time I stay at a W, a Sheraton, a Westin, a Four Points, an Aloft, or a ton of other hotels in the SPG family, I’ll automatically be upgraded to the best room or suite they have. I’ll automatically get three Starpoints per every dollar I spend. I’ll automatically get free lounge access, club floor access, free Wi-Fi access, etc.

Starwood has just taken any worry out of every future hotel stay, for the rest of my life. Do you have any idea what a relief that is?? No more counting nights!

Of course, with one very big caveat: I have to stay at a Starwood brand hotel to enjoy all of this.

Here’s the thing, though – Why the heck wouldn’t I? I’ve been loyal to them for ten years, and they’re thanking me in the biggest way they know how, and taking a huge worry off my shoulders, forever! Why would I ever want to stay anywhere else again?

The secret to turning a loyal customer into a loyal-for-life customer? Do something that guarantees that they’ll come back to you every single time, because going anywhere BUT you would cause them undue stress.

Own a business-to-business corporation? Well, every salesperson is a human, as is every buyer. The salesperson needs to be able to figure out what the buyer’s pain point is, and eliminate that worry.

Restaurant? The loyal customer shouldn’t have to worry about getting a table during a busy time. (Hello, Morton’s!)

Loyal customers are great. Implementing little hacks to guarantee them into loyal-for-life customers like Starwood has done for me this morning? Priceless.

What other tips can you recommend to turn a loyal customer into a loyal for life customer? Let me hear them below.


Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Maggie Barnes says:

    Remember and anticipate. Remember that the last time they scheduled with you, morning was a poor choice because they meet with their drivers before they head out, so sending someone for a DOT exam disrupted their day. Anticipate that glitch and offer them nothing but afternoon appointments.

  • Robert Durand says:

    Not everyone can be made a “for life” member — but how about letting someone “park” their status when life changes their travel frequency? I’m thinking of someone who changes jobs and throttles back on travel, new mom/dad, someone with a parent or partner to care for. I remember losing my Southwest Airlines A-list status when I deployed overseas. I hadn’t abandoned them, I was just overseas and not traveling at all. And, yeah, it kind of stung when my A-list went away.
    A note or email saying “Hey, we noticed you stopped staying with us after years of travel as a Gold Deluxe Guest. Please let us know if there is a reason you may have stopped using Starwood properties that we can fix. Or, if your travel frequency has travelled do to a life event, such as a change of job or a health issue, we would be happy to put your status on hold for two years so you may resume enjoying the benefits of the status you earned without interruption.”

    This act by Starwood employs – in the very best ways – many of the behaviors discussed by Charlie Munger in his essay on human misjudgement, informed by the research of Robert Cialdini.

    We respond to incentives – everyone knows that – but Munger states we always under-estimate their power. And we have reciprocity hard-wired into our psyche – we want to do something for those who give us something, no matter how small. And, there is the “deprivation super-reaction” – we fear losing something we had. So much that we’ll fight for it – and be disproportionately angry if we lose it.

    Call them hacks, but what Starwood did was give you a great incentive, and took away the fear that you’d lose that status ever. Brilliant!

  • Alice Shipman says:

    Jansport just succeeded with this the other week for me (though it was reactive rather than proactive). They’ve discontinued a great type of shoulder strap, but since they still have some of those materials on hand for warranty claims, they ‘fixed’ a new pack for me by using some of that stock.

    Not necessarily a big deal for their repairs department, since they’ve got a pile of the materials on hand, but really wonderful for me and my shoulder pain, and it’s something that *only they* could do. There are a number of nice things you can do for customers, but when those actions are linked to something that’s exclusively yours to offer, it’s a lot more powerful.

  • Adding a personal touch has kept loyal customers for me. A personal note of thanks, a bank teller saying thank you for being with us for 17 years, and an unexpected gift or discount for the next purchase online. When large businesses treat you as if they are small boutiques, that makes me a repeat customer!

  • jagreen34 says:

    Great post. I couldn’t agree with you more and I believe a platform such as a blog or podcast excetera is a great way to build the trust in relationship it takes to keep loyal customers.

  • Lillian says:

    I agree with Robert D.

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