We talk about customer loyalty when “people choose to use a particular shop or buy one particular product, rather than use other shops or buy products made by other companies,” according to the Financial Times’ definition. In other words, customers show loyalty “when they consistently purchase a certain product or brand over an extended period of time.”
Your customers are what keeps your business alive.
No customer means no business.
You might wonder,
“why should I implement a strategy for customer loyalty?”
Simply because the more loyal your customers are to your brand, the more likely they are to recommend you.
Besides, increasing customer loyalty means increasing the lifetime value of the customer for most businesses.
In other words, it costs seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Lucky you, there are ways to improve customer loyalty.
It requires a substantial investment of time and money, as well as topped up reservoirs of passion and commitment, but the results are worth it.
Basically, you have to learn as much as possible about your customers, and then keep up with their needs.
The ultimate goal is to nurture meaningful relationships, capable of repelling attacks from your competitors and standing the test of time.
With such a rock-solid groundwork in place, you will not only stay afloat, but reinforce your bottom line.
So, let’s get down to business with these eight strategies to increase customer loyalty.
1. Create a spotless experience for your customers
Seventy-six percent of consumers believe a company’s customer service is a reflection of how much they value their customers, according to the 2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey.
So if you want loyal customers, amazing customer service is a must. Customers evaluate every interaction they have with your staff, and make a judgment call about your service based on this experience.
When a customer waits in line, makes a return, calls about a broken product after a purchase, asks a question on Facebook, or talks with an employee to find the perfect gift in your store, they’re keeping score.
That means your in-store staff must be friendly, helpful and efficient; your customer support team should be easy to reach and able to solve problems in a timely fashion; and your business should answer questions quickly, even on social media.
Research shows that customers want service via social media, and they expect it quickly. Indeed, 42 percent of consumers expect a response on social media within an hour, and another 32 percent expect a response within 30 minutes.
Take a cue from Southwest Airlines. A customer says that when he asked about the boarding process for international flights on Facebook, he got a response within a few minutes.
2. Reward your customers
One of the best ways to keep customers coming is by rewarding them for their loyalty. Set up a loyalty program that gives customers discounts, gifts and exclusive offers.
According to CrowdTwist, 76 percent of women, and 72 percent of men are likely to shop at a business that offers a loyalty program.
Why do loyalty programs work? Because customers want to feel appreciated. After all, they could choose to spend their money anywhere, and they’ve chosen you; that’s not a small gesture. So you should return the favor with benefits through a loyalty program.
Most companies are now implementing customer loyalty programs to increase customer retention and expand their client base. But what other benefits of customer loyalty programs can you expect for your company?
3. Don't just ask for the money, build a relationship with your customers
You run a business. Selling a product or service is what pays the bills. We get it. But if you only connect with your customers when you want them to buy something, you’ll have trouble keeping them around for the long haul.
Consider hosting a customer appreciation event to show them your gratitude, send them links to helpful articles on your online supports, or showcase a local charity that your business supports in the monthly newsletter.
The idea is to connect with your customers on a regular basis, without regularly asking for money.
4. Listen to your customers
Every business should make an effort to collect feedback from its customers, and actually consider the suggestions they receive.
If customers complain about the poor layout of your store, for example, fix it. Once the improvement is complete, let your customers know about it.
When retailer Kendra Scott made changes in response to a customer’s feedback, the email below, detailing the improvements, was sent out to every customer.
It’s a great way to show customers that you’re not only reading their feedback, but also acting upon it.
5. Make it convenient for your customers
When you increase your brand experience's convenience factor, customers keep coming back. So think about how you can make the experience simpler or faster. Consider making your checkout process more efficient so customers can conveniently get in and out. Answering questions on social media rather than hassling customers to go through an automated maze of menus over the phone and offering auto-billing is also a good way to go.
Applebee’s, for example, enhanced its brand experience by adding digital checkouts to each table so customers don’t have to wait around for the bill or for someone to run their credit card. Now, customers can conveniently check out at their table and go.
6. Build a strong team
Employees are the heart and soul of your brand. They should possess skills and expertise, but also dig your culture and relate to your mission.
To ensure this sort of internal brand harmony, you need to have a comprehensive recruitment policy in place, and prepare thoroughly for interviews.
While at it, communicate your expectations clearly, and define roles and responsibilities.
Once the newcomers are on board, provide them with training and career development opportunities.
Encourage them to share their tips and advice via social media or blog posts.
Feature them in interviews and interesting behind-the-scenes videos shedding light on daily life at the company. Avoid hiding behind that cold corporate façade; put the best face forward.
7. Be honest, transparent and reliable
When we keep our promises, we show our customers that they are not taken for granted. Also, their respect for us grows with every commitment we meet. Customer loyalty automatically increases when customers remember us for our sincerity, rather than for our inability to deliver on our promises.
As our customers have different tastes, not all of our products might interest them. We must accept that and not force anything on them. If you have the heart to recommend a competitor’s product because it meets a customer’s requirements better, your customer will always remember that. In one of my previous articles, for example, I’ve shared how a restaurant recommended us to another eatery for a night out with friends because their ambiance did not suit my requirements, and I was stunned! I ended up going to the same restaurant, and I am now a ‘promoter!’
The very fact that a company is more interested in the customer’s needs than in its own business will go a long way in building customer loyalty.
There will be days when things don’t go as planned. Instead of denying the problem, be honest with your customers about the bad news. When Buffer had a security breach in 2013, the company told its customers about the situation, provided updates, and addressed concerns immediately.
Why choose RewardCo programs to help you improve customer loyalty?
Different customer loyalty programs will deliver different outcomes. Yet, after some time, they will all positively affect growth. Truth be told, these programs might be one of the most straightforward approaches to grow sales, increase customer retention, and build loyalty and altruism among the community, making this one of the best benefits of a customer loyalty program.
2. They’re cost effective
When business owners consider customer loyalty programs, they envision basic assets being diverted to a program that might possibly succeed. As a general rule, seeking new clients is a demonstrated cost load. As previously stated, an existing customer is up to 7 times more affordable than securing a new customer. This makes loyalty programs exceptionally financially savvy, and the slight cost your business may bring about ought to be surpassed by extra business generation. Being financially savvy is one of the best advantages of customer loyalty programs.
3. They improve your reputation
Customer loyalty programs are double-sided. They guarantee that current clients feel esteemed, and also boost new clients to keep patronizing your business. By creating a loyalty program, you can expand customer appreciation, and increase the potential that current clients will share their satisfaction with other people. The more a customer feels that your business acknowledges them, the more they will get the message out. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the cheapest and most effective approaches to grow a business.
4. They help you increase your sales
Business owners and marketers appreciate the advantages of customer loyalty programs since they upgrade and enhance customer retention levels. Customers enjoy the programs because they add to their purchase, and the rewards increase as they remain loyal. With this, you access more portions of your customers' wallets, as long as the rewards are in harmony with their desires. Incentive Solutions provides you with the ability to tailor a customer loyalty program to address needs and wants of your particular customer base, and our programs are easy to implement, so you start receiving the benefits of a customer loyalty program quickly.