By: Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

When you seek to solicit customer loyalty, do you consider using negotiation strategies? Everyone knows that customer loyalty is valuable to any business, but many business owners don’t consider the fact that negotiation strategies are employed in soliciting customer loyalty.

In a negotiation, you must know and understand the source of motivation behind the mindset of the person with whom you’re dealing, so is the case when soliciting customer loyalty. You must understand and know why a person perceives value in doing business with you, what they seek as the result of doing so, the status they seek from doing business with you, and the general mental makeup they bring to the table when interacting with you and your business. To be devoid of such insight is to place your business at a disadvantage when attempting to solicit customer loyalty.

The following seven negotiation strategies will enhance your customer loyalty program and your business.

  1. In a negotiation, one must determine the outcome sought prior to formulating a plan to achieve the goal of the negotiation. Prior to constructing a customer loyalty program, one must gather sufficient information about the customers of a business in order to determine how to create a program that’s best suited for capturing the attention of customers. Part of that process will entail structuring your feedback request to be as open as possible, in order to give the customer ample leeway to express his experience with your organization. Don’t constrain or confine the customer’s feedback so as to direct his response in one direction versus another. Allow the feedback to be unencumbered and free flowing.
  1. When negotiating, one should not assume that every negotiator will react the same to the same stimuli. Likewise, when creating a customer loyalty program, it should not be created as a “one size fits all”. Consider having  upgrades that appeal to a segment of the customers you’re attempting to become more loyal to your business, but based on the psychological makeup of your customer base, allow flexibility in the program (i.e. know what will motivate your customers to stay loyal). You should also consider making your loyalty program, fun-filled, and something that customers will want to tell their friends about; if that’s the psychological makeup of your customer. If your customers are more of the serious type, consider making your program more rigid. In either case, if you create a program that’s specifically geared to your customer’s psychological makeup, your customer will be more apt to tell others about your program which will give it a viral component.
  1. In prior years, businesses used secret-shopper programs to disclose how well the establishment was performing. In today’s Internet environment, businesses have the ability for customers to give direct feedback to the business. In having direct contact with the customer, you receive unabated insight as to the experience the customer had with your business. Such feedback should provide better input from which to develop a customer loyalty program, and what changes to implement in your business to make customer interaction more valuable.
  1. Give customers a reason to come back. Make their visit memorable from a positive perspective. To find out what would be memorable for them, give them the opportunity to participate in what they say they want, and measure how they take advantage of the offer. To the degree they participate, they display their perceived value in your program. To the degree they don’t, you’ll have insight that indicates the perk is not as important as they conveyed. If the latter is the case, drop that aspect of the program and see if any customers comment on the absence of it.
  1. When negotiating with someone, there are strategies to keep the other negotiator engaged or disengaged, based on what you’re attempting to achieve in a particular phase of the negation. You can employ a variation of this strategy in your customer loyalty program by offering customers a “never ending story” (i.e. long scenarios that have mini endings/rewards, but continues towards a longer story (bigger rewards) that keeps customers riveted to your business).
  1. Measure, Measure, Measure – It’s been stated, that which gets measured, gets attention. A good negotiator knows the value of creating a plan from which to negotiate and then measuring the progress you’re making as you’re engaged in the negotiation. In order to make any customer loyalty program of value, it must be measured and contain milestones to indicate levels of achievement. A good program will also possess components that will allow the program to be altered if certain variables occur or don’t occur.
  1. Paralanguage – The words used to detail the offerings of your business play a major role in the way customers perceive your business (e.g. Mont Bloc doesn’t sell pens, they sell writing instruments – Mercedes doesn’t just sell cars, they sell driving machines).  In creating your loyalty program, make sure you ask customers the right questions (i.e. posed in the language they understand, using words that have the same meaning as they understand the words to imply) that will put them in the frame of mind from which you wish them to perceive your business. In so doing, you’ll be developing a program geared more towards the express needs of your customers, based on the perception you wish them to have.

When creating or enhancing your customer loyalty program, don’t make assumptions about your customers. If you infer attributes inaccurately about them, you’ll attempt to solicit their support without much return on your efforts. Develop a profile of your customers based upon the feedback you receive from them, test their feedback by seeing how they interact with your business once you implement their suggestions, analyze the program and adjust it as necessary. Such activities are what make a negotiation outcome more plausible and it will make your customer loyalty program more viable. In the end if you adopt the above strategies, customers will be more loyal to your business and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Greg Williams is known as “The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert”. He’s a Fox TV News Contributor that comments on the body language and Negotiation Tactics and Strategies used by politicians and others that are in the news. When commenting on body language, he gives commentary on the body language exhibited by those in the news that highlight hidden signals they emit; he draws attention to the body language signals that those individuals would rather not have the public be aware of.