Loyal customers – worth their weight in gold? (Part 1)

Loyal customers – worth their weight in gold? (Part 1)

Loyal customers – worth their weight in gold?
Customer loyalty is regularly cited as the key to business stability and growth. The big question is – how much profit do loyal customers actually contribute to your business? What is their real value?
To help answer this question, I have carved out some time to review recent research and data from active business loyalty programs.
What I’ve found is this….
A business without loyal customers IS heading towards extinction!
In many cases, extinction may not be reached quickly, but as sure as death and taxes, it will come – and is often a slow and painful process for all involved.
So, the three key points are; what is a loyal customer, why do we need them and how do we nurture them?
In this two-part blog, we will explore the nature of customer relationships and why loyalty is so important.

What is a loyal customer?
A loyal customer is someone who consistently and freely chooses to support a product, brand or service, ahead of those provided by other suppliers. Customer loyalty is created when satisfaction or trust, associated with a product or offering, is higher than those linked to a competitor’s solution.
Successful organisations recognise that customer loyalty is a journey with great opportunities and understand that to sustain a customer relationship; it must be proactively nurtured.
When a customer’s relationship is cultivated, it evolves and can often transition into a passionate and lifelong association. When loyalty reaches this level, price becomes a secondary factor in buying decisions.
Loyalty also provides a ‘forgiveness buffer’ to challenges and mishaps that would not usually be afforded to others, or first-time providers.

Why do we need loyal customers?
1/ The financial reality of loyalty.
Studies show a range of financial benefits resulting from loyal customers, such as:
• Between 20-90% increase in profits
• Highly satisfied loyal customers targeted with focused marketing can deliver 80% more value than a satisfied loyal customer
• Reduction in new customer marketing expenditure (new customer acquisition can cost 5 to 25 times more than retaining a customer)
• Just 5% increase in the retention rate of loyal customers can lead to a revenue increase between 25-95%
• Decreased operating costs
• Understanding the lifetime value created by loyal customers sharpens the focus and attention to building this base and their experience within your business

2/ Data confirms overarching benefits.

Sales data extracted from the loyalty programs I examined showed the positive relationship between loyalty-based clients to non-loyalty sales. Data analysed clearly showed the high value of loyalty program customers; sales volume was 12-58% higher than walk-in customers.

Sales outcomes greater than 58% have been excluded, as these cases traditionally involve one-off transactions that are not a part of an ongoing spending pattern.

Beyond the direct sales impact provided by loyal customers, other benefits include:

• Referral of new customers to the business from loyalty-based customers

• Loyal customers who come from referrals made by highly satisfied customers have a higher lifetime value

• Businesses with a referral-based loyalty program have experienced 86% higher growth than those with no program.

3/ The 80-20 rule drives different types of “Loyal.”

Loyalty programs are not the only source of information that a business can use to identify loyal customers.
Leveraging your relevant sales information sources (e.g. your invoice system) enables you to determine, “How loyal”, “How often” and “What are their buying preferences”?
Often, we discover that 20% or less of our customers can contribute up to 80% of our business volume and profits.
Studies have shown that highly satisfied customers can deliver 80% more value than a satisfied customer, and new customers referred from this group produce a higher lifetime business return than those we attract through marketing.
This information highlights the significant contribution to business sustainability made by the segment and that close attention must be paid to these customers.
Segmentation provides a highly focused lens, enabling a series of targeted solutions designed to deliver better business outcomes.

In part 2 I will share-
* ways to segment your customer base
* simple strategies to boost your business profitability through enhanced customer experiences.

Click here for part 2

There’s no I in Team – but how about You?

There’s no I in Team – but how about You?

Are you struggling to engage and energise your team?

Does the lion’s share of work always rest with you?

Do you feel constant pressure to deliver more?

You’re not alone.
Fifty-five percent of Australian business leaders say they often make up for the shortfall within their team.

I speak to many business leaders who admit they are compensating for skill gaps within their team, they then find themselves counting the personal cost – and the reduced opportunities for business growth.
The question I hear most often is, “How do I get a team that works well together and will consistently deliver positive outcomes, without me doing the lion’s share of work?”

Successful, high-performance organisations ensure that teams have full coverage in specific business areas. Unfortunately, very few businesses have every key role adequately covered and as a result, critical gaps can occur within the business, with negative impacts.

The common gaps
There are two areas that regularly appear as critical gaps in teams.
1. Amazing deal closers.
Unfortunately, too many people are ‘all talk’ and there is always an excuse when deals are not successful.

2. Advanced administrative support. 
Key support workers who can provide live, up-to-date information regarding all operational issues and/or tasks you have going on in your business.
Item number 2 creates the greatest number of headaches and distractions for business leaders when the relevant support in not in place.

Key performance factors for a cohesive team
In today’s fast-paced, competitive business environment, a cohesive, well-designed team is critical.
Whether you have built your team from scratch or inherited it from a former leader, it’s critical to undertake a regular team review.
Do you have the essential ingredients for sustainable success?
By understanding the key performance factors and types of work functions that will energise your team members;
you can determine the most effective method to achieve optimal team performance.

Engage your team in this learning journey, and you’ll find team members brought closer together and working more effectively by exploring how they:
• relate to each other
• gather information
• make decisions• organise themselves

Optimal structure for elite-performance enterprises
The optimal team design has a combination of roles, ensuring coverage of critical business drivers. 

These roles include those who:
• will seek out new business opportunities
• are innovators and provide out-of-the-box solutions
• review and develop opportunities, ensuring smooth business integration
• are proactive organisers
• have the drive to deliver measurable outcomes
• offer supervisory skills
• ensure all records are maintained• act as information controllers and provide reports
• are intra-team bridge builders who nurture collaboration and communication.

Time for a self-audit
Ask yourself:
1. Where are the gaps in my team?
2. What impact are these gaps having on my business outcomes?
3. What tasks and decision-making can I delegate?
4. How can I develop team members to become subject-matter experts in an area?

Successful leaders ensure coverage of all key roles, with the best resources operating as subject-matter experts supporting positive client outcomes.
This ensures sustainability in business, robust processes and best-in-class client service.
Better Business Solutions, Better Business Outcomes and A Better Life.

I don’t just promise measurable solutions, I deliver them.
I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss any team performance issues you might be facing.

Contact me – Craig O’Brien.

Do you need a coach?

Do you need a coach?

We’ve all heard about trying to make a distinction between need and want. It’s an age-old tussle that is effectively applied to committing to a coach relationship.

The new year is now well underway and full of potential – and it’s a time many of us ponder the future of our business.

Are you brimming with confidence and ready to go?

Or do you have doubts and not sure which way to turn?

Many clients contact me in February following a summer break, needing to make significant decisions about their future. But there are also decisions you’ll need to make before you embark on a coaching partnership.

No-one needs a coach. Successful coaching partnerships that create positive and sustainable outcomes happen when you want a coach. A coach will help to produce results beyond those achieved in your day-to-day pursuits, both in business and life.

Working with a business coach is not for everyone. You need to be open to feedback and ready to make changes – and not all of them are easy.

To help you decide if now is the time to begin working with a coach, I’ve developed two quick checklists.

Five reasons NOT to engage a coach;

  • You know your business better than anyone else.
  • Life is busy – you have no time to spare.
  • You’re already stressed enough.
  • You don’t want to be told what to do.
  • Some issues are private and not for discussion.

If this sounds like you, coaching might not be for you right now. A coaching partnership is a deep dive not only into your business but for the business leader as well. There’s a need for honesty and real commitment to change.

Five reasons you SHOULD partner with a coach;

  • You’re facing an increasing level of overwhelm, stress and complexity as you seek to sustain your business.
  • You constantly read articles about improvement, try new things, but are unable to gain any headway.
  • You are ready for a constructive challenge. A coach will help you change your way of thinking to impact outcomes positively.
  • You yearn for a focus that provides clarity, passion, purpose and energy. A coach will guide you through a process of simplification to attain focus, then help you create an accountability plan and agreed steps for improvement and growth.
  • You want to change your lifestyle. Better business solutions mean better business outcomes and in the process, a better life.

Without a trusted mentor or colleague who will actively listen, many businesses fail needlessly. Many business leaders face the crossroad decision of, “do I want to accept extinction, or stride purposefully towards evolution?”

Are you are ready to commit to change in 2019?

Better Business Solutions, Better Business Outcomes, A Better Life.

Contact me to discuss: info@craigobrien.com.au or call me +61 (0) 416155565

How to boost profits from your existing clients

How to boost profits from your existing clients

  1. Dive in and discover hidden value in your business

Sometimes, in the day-to-day grind of our businesses, we can’t see the wood for the trees. Profitability eludes us, despite the fact we are working hard and our business is growing. We know we probably need to adjust our approach or offering, but it can be hard to know where to start.

One of the tactics I often suggest to clients in this situation is to gain new insights by revisiting their client base with a strategic analysis. A client-centric health check is similar to a health check with your GP, where you fine tune your lifestyle for healthier outcomes.

While this is an excellent process at any time of year, it’s best put in place at the beginning of the financial year or the end of a quarter, when we are looking to refine, tweak or pivot our growth strategy.

We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule, whereby 80 per cent of our business typically comes from 20 percent of our clients. This is usually a reasonable measure to use when looking at what percentage of clients or product lines contribute the most to your business profits. In some businesses, it can actually be a 90/10 distribution, which creates an even bigger risk to your business’ sustainability. So how can we significantly shift these numbers to create a sustainable business?


client centric health check involves identifying and analysing four key factors:

  • Existing client list (Everyone you have transacted with over the past 3-5 years and their sales data)
  • Growth clients (Clients who have an expected 15% growth this year)
  • Well-managed clients (Clients who will remain within current sales volume)
  • At-risk clients (Clients who are dissatisfied with the offering or sales are in decline)

Successful business leaders make key business decisions based on critical, real-life components – i.e. the facts. While operating on gut feel or making decisions based on emotions can be important, these decisions are significantly enhanced when facts confirm what you felt or ‘just knew, deep down’.

While not the most glamorous of pastimes, data analysis is the most useful guide in your business journey. Facts remove erratic emotions, providing a clear path that shows where we came from and where we are now, enabling us to plot a path to where we need to be.

Financial reality enables you to open your eyes and mind to opportunities ahead – and create clear strategies to address issues and optimise strengths.

In the worksheet, you will learn the process of creating a client-centric health check for yourself. All you need is a new Excel or Numbers spreadsheet, your most up to date financial statement, a good dash of focus and your favourite cup of coffee or tea beside you.

Discover your Hidden Value – a step by step guide

  • Open an Excel or Numbers Spreadsheet
  • Create and name four columns – A, B, C and D
  • List all clients in column A
  • Assign a revenue level to each client in column B – choose either ‘high’ or ‘low’
  • Categorise clients based on quantity or mix of products they purchase – choose either ‘high’ or ‘low’ in column C
  • Identify clients as growth clients, well-managed clients, or at-risk clients in column D
  • Your next step is to undertake an intuitive segmentation of your clients. Confirm your segmentation and/or identify any gaps between your current perception and actual client sales patterns – look closely at your sales data.
  • Finally, cluster your clients in a matrix. For example ‘A’ scored high in Revenue and Product columns and is identified as a growth client. ‘B’ also scored high in both columns but is classified as well-managed. Complete the remainder of the matrix following this rationale.

Some tips to remember as you analyse your data.

  • A growth client should deliver 15 per cent or more revenue in the coming year
  • A well-managed client delivers between zero and 14 per cent annual sales growth
  • At-risk clients are known to be dissatisfied with a product or service, or identified as having declining sales over the past 3 to 6 months compared to the previous year.
  • Identify any clients who have 1) growth potential, 2) are high in columns B or C and 3) have not been actively engaged with you for six months.



Your task

Create a client-centric matrix for your business, as shown in Figure 1 and a cluster chart as shown in Figure 2. (You may want to involve your sales team.)

  1. Can you see where the unrealised potential lies?
  2. Has your product offering expanded? Has this opened up new opportunities?
  3. Have all your + + clients and Growth clients (identified in Figure 2) had direct communication with you or your team in the last three months?
  4. What could you do to engage your key clients in a way that is interesting, beneficial and innovative?
  5. Review your client-centric matrix and identify those who can be shifted from well managed to growth, or those at risk to a highly satisfied, strong revenue contributing client.

Where to from here?

What you measure can be managed and what is observed is done

This matrix ensures you have a very clear focus on who contributes the most value to your business. Take steps to build better relationships with your most valuable clients and you’ll be rewarded with greater business growth and an improved client experience.

The Matrix

The Matrix

Important vs Urgent – do you know the difference?

 Dwight D. Eisenhower made his mark on the world as the 34th President of the United States (1953-1961) but he also had a strong military background; United States Army General, Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II and NATO’s first Supreme Commander.

 While Eisenhower’s list of political and military accomplishments is mind-boggling, it is his development of a strategic matrix to help him continuously make tough decisions that is still held up as a powerful model of managing priorities today.

 Many business leaders and entrepreneurs across the globe successfully use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritise tasks by urgency and importance (Figure 1). But to truly master this matrix and get lasting results, there is some work to do.

Changing habits takes time and effort.

The reason this matrix is such a helpful tool is that many leaders, entrepreneurs and decision makers become addicted to taking everything on. While this habit may be well-intended, the only result is a perpetual cycle of work overload and stress. There is a direct negative impact on the frontal lobe, the essential area of the brain for critical judgments and task prioritisation. The leader’s stress spreads to the team, and a repetitive cycle of reactive, less-than-optimal experiences is soon embedded in the organisation. 

 Those leaders who are using the matrix most successfully are those who are able to create action in all four quadrants. Only an accomplished few have the required focus to dedicate time to action the important and urgent as well as administering delegation and prioritisation in other areas.

 Instead of shouldering the entire load, leaders need to ‘let go’ and embrace the exciting opportunities and empowerment offered by delegation to others.

 The Eisenhower Matrix may be successfully applied in both Leadership and Sales Strategy scenarios. Here are both angles for discussion.

In Quadrant 1 we do it Now.

This is when actions are both Important and Urgent.

 Leadership Strategy: Do it first. An action identified as both Important and Urgent needs to be addressed by a leader as soon as possible. If needed, seek knowledge from trusted subject experts to help make decisions.

 Customer Sales Strategy: When a customer has both an Important and Urgent need, their concerns about price, location and alternative solutions become a lower consideration when investing their funds. Successful sales outcomes occur when a business has recognised this and positioned their offering to trigger and satisfy an Important and Urgent need. How often do we really take the time to listen, hear and thus identify the Important and Urgent needs of customers to trigger sales?

 In Quadrant 2 we Plan.

 This is when actions are Important but NOT Urgent.

 Leadership Strategy: When a topic is identified as Important but NOT Urgent it should receive a leader’s attention, but can be scheduled for review and action at the appropriate time. By committing to review at a scheduled time,

In Quadrant 3 we Delegate.

This is when actions are Urgent but NOT Important.

 Leadership Strategy: Successful leaders develop a role and task delegation structure with an inbuilt filtering mechanism that identifies tasks that are Urgent, but not Important enough to involve the business leader. Delegating tasks empowers staff to take the lead and if they require support, reach out as needed.

 Customer Sales Strategy: A customer with a Urgent but NOT Important need is often in a hurry and may be an impulse buyer who later regrets their buying decision. If the expenditure is for a low-cost item, often the purchase is forgotten and the relationship remains that of a low-cost convenience related customer. However, if the investment is significant then a range of issues can evolve, such as returns, service cancellation or resentment that surrounds a bad decision.

While difficult to achieve, it is often worth discovering if an expensive outlay is the best option for the customer at that moment in time. These discussions build a client relationship based on trust.

In Quadrant 4 we Let it go! Or Delegate.

This is when actions are Not Important AND Not Urgent.

Leadership Strategy: Unfortunately, some leaders become trapped in investing their valuable time on actions that have little, if any impact on their business. This quadrant is the place of operation (and often comfort) for leaders who procrastinate, or wish to control every aspect of the business. It’s also a place where leaders with ‘shiny object syndrome’ operate – wanting to be involved in everything that catches their eye. Operating in this quadrant results in a stressed leader and frustrated and disempowered teams.

By avoiding Quadrant 4 tasks, staying focused and eliminating actions that are not relevant to core business objectives, leaders create time to undertake tasks in Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2.

Customer Sales Strategy: If something is not Important OR Urgent to the customer, a high-value transaction has a very low probability. Don’t chase low probability sales; move on and look for those who see your offering as both Important and Urgent. In time, these customers may see your service as Important and Urgent if you have positioned your offering as providing solutions to Important and Urgent issues.

An Important and Urgent need is a sales opportunity.

As discussed earlier, when something is Important and Urgent, price, location and alternative solutions become a lower consideration when investing funds. Getting it actioned moves to the top of the list. Focus on those customers you can help with an Important and Urgent need.

Think about how you make your buying decisions, and how this behaviour varies when both important and urgent needs are present. Successful sales staff make sure they focus on customers who seek them out and view their offering as a solution to an important and urgent need.

Within your business, consider these questions:

  • How do you make sure your offering is positioned so that those with important and urgent needs consider you as the preferred supplier?
  • Does your team understand this concept? How can your team recognise and/or unlock this requirement within the customers you support?

Leadership self-audit

Reviewing your own approach to business decision-making and actions, can you confidently say:

  • I delegate urgent but not important actions
  • I schedule time and commit myself to actions that are important but not urgent
  • I apply self-discipline and don’t invest precious time and energy in actions that are not urgent and not important
  • I have the courage and self-mastery to dedicate myself to actions that are important and urgent.

Now, review your leadership team against the principles of the Eisenhower Matrix. Does your team understand this concept?

The positive impact of clear prioritisation, delegation and planning will create enormous benefits for your business, your team and your customers.

Customer Sales self-audit

When you review your approach to customer sales, can you confidently say:

  • We ensure our customers see our offering and expertise as important and urgent
  • We identify key customers and their specific important and urgent needs and/or triggers
  • We set time aside to focus and nurture customers who see our offering as important but not yet urgent
  • We do not invest precious time and energy in customers who consider our products or services as neither urgent nor important
  • We have the courage and self-mastery to articulate and action core values, so they are transparent and reflected in words and actions each day.

In my experience, Eisenhower’s Matrix not only assists with leadership decision making, but also reduces stress, increases productivity and boosts sales.

If you’d like more information on how to incorporate the Eisenhower Matrix into your business, please feel free to get in touch.

I don’t just promise measurable solutions. I deliver them.

Craig O’Brien – Better business solutions. Better business outcomes. A better life.

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