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Keep calm and ‘help’ clients to climb the loyalty ladder

Written by Nguyen Tra Giang – s3397586

In today’s modern and dynamic life, people tend to hastily chase their passions and desires, companies often focus on mass production and how to increase revenue quickly, whether patiently nurture and maintain a long-term relationship with clients is still important?

Figure 1 : A long term client/agency relationship is priceless , you can't buy or sell it, you just can use a strategic process to reach it. Source (Sallyhogshead 2013)

Figure 1 : A long term client/agency relationship is priceless , you can’t buy or sell it, you just can use a strategic process to reach it. Source (Sallyhogshead 2013)

“Forget about pushing products, you will never be able to sell your products to anyone if you do not have trust and support from loyal customers”, Bao asserts with a resolute tone of a young man who is an Account Executive in Planning & Sale Dept of Petrovietnam Southern Gas (PSG). After a year being responsible for client servicing and client acquisition, Bao concludes that building a successful client relationship is a whole challenging yet exciting journey, which requires you to cultivate knowledge to construct specific approaching strategies and develop a professional communication skill. Regarding to this topic, I and Bao would agree that Loyalty Ladder is an ideal marketing relationship concept for assessing the degree of client loyalty.

Figure 2 : The loyalty ladder is a relationship marketing concept that sees customers gradually moving up through relationship levels(Managing Service Quality 2000)

Figure 2 : The loyalty ladder is a relationship marketing concept that sees customers gradually moving up through relationship levels(Managing Service Quality 2000)

“The power of first impression”

The bottom rung of the loyalty ladder is an important part as it is the foundation to reach loyal clients. “There are always new clients in the crowded market who come to your business for the first time. Make the first visit remarkable and everything else (loyalty, advocacy, trust) will possibly come after” (Beverland, Farrely & Woodhatch 2007). For Bao, when client is in the first ladder – Prospect, patience is the key. He asserts that without appropriate qualifications of prospect, you will fall down at the first rung. “Don’t make your sale pitch early because you might be 80% immediately ignored. Be patient and save it until you both know clearly about others”, Bao warns. With my question of how to shorten the distance with client at the first rung, Bao suggests that creating personal relationship is a solution. He often takes advantages of networking events or existing relationships or even tries to invite clients to his friend cycle to get a better understanding about them. “Best time to professionally give clients a relevant pitch is when you research adequate information about their current situation and find out why your products is compulsory for them”, Bao advices.

Figure 3 : The best way to build loyalty down the road is to focus on loyalty and commitment on the first rung - Prospect . Try to carefully research about clients and impress them in the first meet conversation . Source (Chronos-studeos 2013).

Figure 3 : The best way to build loyalty down the road is to focus on loyalty and commitment on the first rung – Prospect . Try to carefully research about clients and impress them in the first meet conversation . Source (Chronos-studeos 2013).

Know and love your client’s business as much as they do

Now you already got clients to use your products in the stage Acquaintance and are on your way to move them to a higher rung – Steady Supporter. However, “you may lose your clients to the competitors anytime if you just leave them with the products and get lost”, Bao emphasizes. He encourages future client managers to pay more attention on client’s business so you can consistently exceed their expectations. For instance, PSG mainly distributes liquefied petroleum gas, besides selling products, Bao always actively give clients advices, suggest them promising projects and update gas/oil price as well as educate them about the market .Focusing on product and client services helps to retain existent and increase word-of-mouth (Davies & Prince 1999).

Figured 3: Clients are just like us. They want to be cared and supported. Love them and they will love you back. Source , (Steph , 2012)

Figured 3: Clients are just like us. They want to be cared and supported. Love them and they will love you back. Source , (Steph , 2012)

“Relationship is like a brand: you have to invest in it, and understand that it gets built over time” (Solomon 2008).

Figure 4. Invest effort, passion and knowledge to build a strong and long-term relationship. Source, (dreamstime.com)

Figure 4. Relationship is like a brand, you have to invest effort, passion and knowledge to build a strong and long-term relationship. Source, (dreamstime.com)

Relationship commitment will be driven to the top rungs – Advocate and Trusted Partner when agency constantly improve their proposed solution and willingly try new approaches. Bao proudly smiles while mentioning about Petrolimex and Shell Gas Vietnam, the two most loyal clients that he has put much effort to move them through each ladder. Before we end the conversation and get back to the hustle life, Bao reminds that client retention is more important than acquisition because 80% benefit come from the existing clients. By maintaining a stable relationship with them, you not only able to sell more products but also raise your reputation because your loyal clients will give positive reviews about you to others. “You’ll possibly get new clients and remember to keep calm and ‘help’ them to climb each loyalty ladder all over again. Good luck”, Bao winks.

Figure 5: (1) Nguyen Thai Bao ' s business card . (2) Nguyen Thai Bao and Nguyen Tra Giang is enjoying their talk about client management in Papa coffee. (3) Nguyen Thai Bao ' s business photo . Image collaged by author.

Figure 5: (1) Nguyen Thai Bao’s business card. (2) Nguyen Thai Bao and Nguyen Tra Giang are enjoying their talk about client management in Papa coffee. (3) Nguyen Thai Bao’s business photo. Image edited by author.

Word count: 664

Beverland, M., Farrelly, F. & Woodhatch, Z. 2007, “Exploring the Dimensions of Proactivity within Advertising Agency-Client Relationships”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 49-60.

Davies, M. & Prince, M. 1999, “Examining the longevity of new agency accounts: A comparative study of U.S. and U.K. advertising experiences”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 75-89.

Solomon, R. 2008, “Great Work Wins Business; a Great Relationship Keeps It”,The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York, pp. 97-99

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