Customer Loyalty about Trust, Good Service

By glindinning, mary | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), November 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Customer Loyalty about Trust, Good Service


glindinning, mary, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


You can't buy or sell customer loyalty. You have to create it.

With so many consumer choices and options just a computer click away, it might seem like customer loyalty is declining.

But small businesses have a unique opportunity to create loyal customers.

"I don't think it's declining. In fact, if anything, I think people are looking for security," said Christina Rader, owner of Re:think Marketing in Dubuque. "Being authentic is the number one thing a business can do. In today's society, people are having trouble discerning who they can trust. People are really uncertain. They want to find somebody that they can trust. If they find that, and you don't violate it, you've got a loyal customer."

The loyalty seems to be crossing age levels.

"I think the new generation is especially looking for those businesses they can put their trust in," Rader said. Online businesses can still "have that authentic voice. In your communication you can definitely communicate authenticity in the words you choose."

Cremer's Grocery

Even with street construction leaving Cremer's Grocery an island, customers still come.

"We don't survive because our service is better, or that we are convenient, or we have a spacious store. We survive because of the product," said owner Jeff Cremer. "You have to give someone something they want. If you're the nicest person in the world, that's not enough. You've got to put out a product worth coming for."

Long-time employees or Cremer usually greet customers, and ask how the kids are.

"Just being around a long time helps. We're really not doing anything different than we did 50 years ago," he said.

The uniqueness of the small, three-generation store helps. Employees carry groceries out to the car and deliver.

"There are good people at all these stores," and bigger stores have formal customer service training, he said.

Theisen's Home Farm Auto

At many long-time stores, customer service is learned through osmosis.

"People buy from people, not from companies," president Jim Theisen often says. Everything at Theisen's is built on customer service.

"It is not what we have done; it is what our people have done to bring us to where we are today. Our commitment to exceptional customer service is something we strive for every day, with every interaction. When we miss that mark, we want to know about it and we work to correct it.

"Your most important job is helping your customer. What is it that the customer wants?" he said.

As important as serving customers is helping the community, Theisen believes. Customer loyalty made the business successful, so the business should be loyal to the community. And it comes full circle, as Theisen believes people want to shop at a store that supports the community.

Theisen's has a structured way to give back through "More for Your Community" grants to nonprofits, but also donates to community projects and groups.

It is that loyalty to the community that has made Matt Schuster, who farms near the airport, a Theisen's customer since he graduated from high school in 1981. …

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