There are numerous studies out there that clearly show why it is extremely important to develop a loyal customer base. Also, it is equally important to keep those loyal customers happy and increase customer loyalty. Those customers are the ones who are likely to buy your products, even if they aren’t on sale. They are also likely to recommend your offerings to family, friends and colleagues.
In the simplest terms, customer loyalty is a measure of the likelihood of your customers do repeat business with you.
Developing this type of loyal customer takes considerable effort, but those efforts are well worth the numerous benefits they provide. For one, they’re a more consistent source of revenue, and really, everyone appreciates the importance of consistent revenue.
Additionally, they tend to provide more feedback and respond to promotional marketing. Also, their word-of-mouth referrals can boost your brand like no other form of advertising can. Really, the list goes on and on.
Another reason to try to increase customer loyalty has to do with cost; retaining customers is far less expensive than attracting new ones. In fact, the Harvard Business Review estimates it can be anywhere between 5 to 25 times cheaper to hold on to existing customers than it is to try to woo new ones. The average global value of a lost customer is estimated to be a whopping $243.
However, as a rule, loyalty cannot be bought. So how can we increase customer loyalty? Below are 4 suggestions to help you get you started designing a memorable customer experience that causes people to genuinely like, appreciate and feel obligated towards your product/ service or brand.
Excel at customer service
The ACA Group hit the hammer on the nail when they said: “Excellent customer service is the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer’s expectations.”
With so many options available, you need to give them a good reason to return for your offering. That is why you must not only meet but also exceed their expectations. Because customers aren’t likely to forget when they’re treated well (or when they are treated poorly). You should strive for steady excellence in your interactions with them.
How do you bring about excellence, you may ask? The answer lies in ensuring your service is full of empathy and valuable for the customer.
Start by truly listening to and capturing opinions and feedback
I know it’s easier said than done, but you need to first and foremost focus on understanding the issues faced by your customer. Why was his experience less than ideal? How can you ensure that this deficiency is corrected? In order to improve the customer’s experience, you need to maintain a certain level of caring attentiveness. Ensure that your customer knows that they are heard and appreciated, and that you are very interested in making sure that they are happy and satisfied.
So explore ways of getting a better understanding of your customer. You may look into setting up different mechanisms to get feedback. These are great ways to learn about your customers, collect real data and gain deeper level insights into their needs.
Alternatively, you can always start small and just use an excel spreadsheet to create a system of tracking repeat questions and problems that need addressing. Whatever you do, find ways to learn what makes your customers happy (and more importantly, unhappy).
This can allow you to responsively re-engage dissatisfied customers by asking them for advice on improvement.
Then proactively practice quality improvement
It might actually help to think of yourself as a medical practitioner providing preventative care to patients. You don’t want to just keep treating symptoms aka the repeat customer complaints. You’d want to take initiatives and figure out a way to stop conditions from surfacing in the first place. But instead of pushing annual physicals and dental cleanings, through the use of a continuous improvement strategy, you’ll be enacting changes based on gathered insights.
Going the extra mile by paying attention to and really working to heal your customer’s stated (and subliminal) pain points makes all the difference when it comes to customer service provision. Additionally, you can check out these great customer service best practices, that if regularly followed, are guaranteed to deliver more memorable moments.
Build a unique customer rewards program and community
People love special treatment. So receiving perks and incentives for purchasing from a business they’d buy from anyway, doesn’t hurt. As shown in the infographic below, 52% of loyal consumers will join a rewards or VIP program if one is offered to them.
Regardless of your industry, there are always ways to thank customers for their loyalty. Benefits can be as simple as the ability to skip the line or a big customer loyalty bash. Here are 10 examples of innovative customer loyalty programs to help inspire your brainstorming.
Remember, reciprocity works wonders. By treating your most loyal customers to special rewards, they’ll want to stick around and spend more. In fact, the Adobe Report worked out that ~ 40% of US retail revenue comes from 8% of returning purchasers. Let that sink in a little!
Loyal customers deserve to be shown appreciation. But with rewards programs now being offered left, right and center, you really have to be thoughtful and come up with more and more innovative ways to encourage advocacy. Creating a forum or discussion board on your website is one such way. A medium for exchanging ideas, questions and solutions can serve to create better connections with customers and followers while building a sense of community.
Be sure to have a look at this post that discusses the value of building a community.
Harness the power of storytelling
According to a content marketing study, 92% of consumers expressed their preference for internalizing messages read in the form of a story. Stories will help people connect with and remember your brand.
So start brainstorming stories around topics like your origin story, a problem you previously solved for a customer, what sets you apart from the competition, etc. In this era where everyone seems fake and everything seems superficial, customers crave authenticity. Your existence and the experiences you have had may seem ordinary to you, but they can be very powerful tools if used effectively.
If you take the time to tell the story of what inspired you to start creating your product, people will appreciate it. If you dig deep and communicate what it is that truly sets your business apart from the crowd, their ears just might perk up (or their eyes may gloss over).
The best storytellers achieve the most brand awareness. So even though bearing the heart and soul of your business endeavor takes spunk and some level of wordsmithing or video editing, customers crave real stories – ones they can relate to or root for.
Go on, tell them yours.
Engage in effective communication
Finally, to disseminate your stories and content, you’ll need to devise a communication strategy that strikes a balance between efficient and effective. This blog post does a great job of describing strategies to increase customer loyalty through various modes of communication, automated and otherwise.
The key lies in ensuring a cohesive and consistent approach across all channels. The best strategies will vary from industry to industry. But if you take the time to map out your content strategy and an accompanying communication calendar, it won’t go unappreciated. Here are some free internal marketing content calendar templates you can try out today.
There is an old saying about birds in the hand being worth more than those in the bush. While I myself know very little about birds, I do understand the meaning of this old proverb. It’s better to have the certainty of a small benefit than the possibility of something greater which may come to nothing.
It’s extremely important to work to hold on to the customers that we do have. Inspire and increase customer loyalty by providing a customer service experience that exceeds their expectations. Relay your story while also listening to theirs and offer rewards whenever possible. As long as you do, you will reap the many benefits of a loyal customer base.
This is a guest post by Uwe Dreissigacker.
Uwe is the founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry & also offers free invoice templates to businesses. Small businesses and sole traders can create, send and manage their invoices, quotes and credit notes with the tool. In his free time, Uwe travels the world and enjoys experiencing different cultures.
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