Customer loyalty is what makes a person consistently choose one company, product or service over all others. It determines the restaurants we visit or the hotels we choose when traveling. Customer loyalty is the result of excellent experiences with a product or brand. Successful companies have shown that loyalty is derived from the way customers feel when their expectations have been exceeded. Loyalty is not given, it is earned, and smart companies invest in building experiences to keep customers coming back.
Does your funeral home have a customer loyalty strategy?
A customer loyalty strategy is a company-wide plan to provide each family with an exceptional customer experience by disarming preconceptions and exceeding the family’s expectations at every touchpoint along the customer journey. In short, what is your plan to wow each family you serve in the coming year?
But wait, we already do that!
If you ask any funeral home what makes them different, they’ll say they provide better service every single time. The truth is every funeral home believes they do so they declare it, and oftentimes make it part of their slogan. But, as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Is their great service quantifiable, is the business growing?
Many coffee shops say they serve the world’s best coffee but are still struggling, yet there is a Starbucks on every corner that doesn’t say that. Howard Shultz, the founder of Starbucks said, “We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.”
How many funeral homes say they provide the best service and are struggling to maintain market share while others are expanding to meet the demand? One is in the funeral business and the other is in the business of creating personalized healing experiences.
3 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty In 2018
Consumers have choices, and in the competitive market the funeral business is facing today, it is more important than ever to create and deliver an experience to the family that exceeds anything they expected and results in them becoming loyal to your firm.
Delivering great customer service starts by charting each step in the customer’s (family’s) journey and making the necessary changes and improvements to deliver more than they expect.
In a service business, there are three separate experiences the customer will have with a company. The pre-sale experience, the service delivery experience, and the post-sale experience. In the funeral business, this would be the experience a family has when contemplating choosing your firm, the funeral services, and aftercare. Successful funeral homes are doing all three well.
1. Create a great (pre-sale) experience for families considering your funeral home
You can’t create a loyal family until you win the call, and that only happens when they first trust your firm and have confidence that you can deliver the value they are seeking. A pre-sale process that is customer centric goes a long way toward earning trust and generating confidence.
As most families are going online to start their journey, the most effective way to create a great pre-sale experience for them is by having a website that anticipates the reason they are on the site and guides them to the information they need. Nothing will kill a potential sale faster than a website not having the answer to a visitor’s question, including pricing information.
2. Create a great experience during the services
There are many touchpoints from the first call to the removal of home equipment after the services are over. Each one is a part of the overall customer experience. Any strategy to create customer loyalty must include an audit of each step in the family’s journey and taking a thoughtful approach to making it more customer centric.
The best way to make each touchpoint better is by viewing it from the lens of a customer. You must experience what they experience. The not-so-secret way to win any customer over is by knowing what they love and hate, and then doing more of one and less of the other. Putting pride aside, you must walk through each touchpoint and ask what can be done to make it better. Each one is an opportunity to give the family more than they expect.
3. Continue the experience after the services are over.
The easiest way to build customer loyalty is by staying in touch with families after the services are over. After the first month, when the cards and calls stop, and everyone has gone back to their own lives, the family is left to adjust to their new normal, oftentimes alone.
With a little planning, it’s not difficult to let people know you are thinking about them. Something as simple as sending a thank you card, or passing along information on something they might find helpful can go a long way. A sure way to strengthen relationships is to reach out on special occasions such as the first holiday season without their loved one or the first anniversary of their loss. Everyone wants to be remembered.
The benefit of creating customer loyalty
Building customer loyalty will grant you the first chance at serving the family the next time they have a need, and the first lesson in business is that it’s far more expensive to find a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. FBA
Ellery Bowker is the Founder and CEO of Aftercare.com. Aftercare.com helps funeral homes and cemeteries build loyalty with an automated follow up program. Ellery can be reached by phone at (800) 721-7097 or by email at [email protected]