The thing about loyal customers is, you may not know if they’re actually loyal or not until they’re gone. You may have just been the best option for now. For me, this is Panera. Aaron and I have a go there frequently but hate it relationship with them. They’re the only option for a restaurant that is fast, semi-healthy, and everywhere. But my complaints for them are a mile long – they’re expensive, all of their chicken tastes the same no matter what dish it’s in and I don’t even like how it tastes, everything is just ok, most of the time they’re very slow, their menu seems so “corporate” and uninventive, you don’t get what you pay for. I could go on.
Yet, I keep going. Why? Because we just haven’t found anything better. Locally a few cafes have much better sandwiches, at better prices, and they offer more for their sides. But, they’re too far for us to go regularly. Or, when we’re traveling, it’s the only fast place we know of that serves a vegetable other than lettuce and tomato on a burger. When we’re out and need a last minute option for Weston to eat something, it’s one of the few places that has more options than just chicken tenders.
Client Loyalty by Default
It’s loyalty, by default. But that’s not really loyalty at all, is it? Real loyalty is looking the other way when approached by a competitor. Real loyalty doesn’t look around for better options. Real loyalty isn’t being overly sensitive to normal price increases. Real loyalty leaves a client feeling fulfilled. Content.
Unfortunately for you as a designer and business owner, Richard Marx wasn’t singing about clients when he sang, “Wherever you go. Whatever you do. I will be right here waiting for you.” Clients won’t be right there waiting for you, no matter what you do. The moment a business starts to assume client loyalty no matter what they do, the clients start to leave, or at least look around.
True Loyalty is Crucial to Your Success
As a designer, loyalty is crucial. Often times your biggest projects come not from the first project with a client, or maybe even the second, it may be the third or the fourth. It might be a year after your first meeting with them. It might be after they’ve slowly gotten to know you, like you, and trust you. It might be after you’ve fought hard with a vendor over their delivery of a wrong product and quickly had the situation corrected. Or when you pulled off a last minute transformation for a Christmas party they’re hosting. Or when you worked tirelessly to find a nearly impossible to find fabric that they saw four years ago in a small magazine but desperately love.
Client loyalty comes when you consistently show clients a reason to be loyal. When you show the client that their priorities, are your priorities. When you show them that you’re as dedicated to making their room spectacular as you are to making sure the project is profitable for your business.
Never Get Too Lazy for Loyalty
Remember to never get too comfortable with your clients. To not get a little lax in how well you treat them over time. To not think, “Oh, they’ve been a client forever. They’ll understand if I’m 30 minutes late.” It’s the same ideas that keep a marriage happy, that keep a client designer relationship happy. Make time for them. Keep treating them well. And really listen when they talk to you, rather than waiting for your turn to talk. And the next time their friends goes on and on about how amazing their designer is, they’ll reply, “That’s nothing compared to my designer.”
If you’d like even more help making sure your clients stay loyal, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!