Everyone wants the elusive loyal customer who won’t leave your company no matter what a competitor throws their way. Figuring out how to build customer loyalty but still remain profitable isn’t always an easy balance.
Consider some of the brands with a strong following. For example, there are people who must have their Starbucks fix every morning or will only buy clothes from Old Navy. What are the techniques larger companies use to pull people in and keep them coming back for more?
What Does Building Customer Loyalty Mean?
In a recent report from Retail Dive, experts found about 73% of companies depend on current customers for success. You can’t grow your business if you constantly churn customers. Building customer relationships is vital to developing a loyal audience.
What does a loyal customer look like? They buy consistently and many new products you release. They tell family and friends about your brand and recommend they check you out. They engage by emailing you, sharing your social media posts and liking your comments.
How can you encourage customers to make the shift from mild interest to raving fan? Here are some tips for building customer loyalty.
1. Know Your Customers’ Needs
The better you know your customers, the easier it is to figure out their needs. Brands that step up and offer solutions consumers didn’t even know they needed tend to stand out from the competition.
Pay attention to complaints, reviews and customer service calls. What are the main issues people deal with? Why do they turn to you for a solution in the first place? The better you meet customer expectations, the more loyal they’ll be to your brand going forward.
Building loyalty takes time, so you’ll need to focus on customer needs as part of your overall policy. Great service isn’t a one-time endeavor. You should consistently strive to not only meet but exceed expectations.
2. Start a Loyalty Program
Researchers estimate it costs companies five times more to attract and recruit a new customer than keep a current one. Loyalty programs reward people for staying with you. An example might be a snack kiosk that punches a card–physically or digitally–each time the person buys from them. After 10 or so punches, they get a free item.
The key is to give them a reward that matches what they already buy. If they come in every morning and order a small black coffee and hard boiled eggs, don’t reward them with a blueberry scone.
3. Decide on Communication Channels
Where do your customers hang out and what are their preferred methods of communication? If you can’t tell from the data on hand, go ahead and survey your most loyal clients to see how they prefer to chat with you.
- Live chat
- Social Media
You might find that you can keep the chat going most easily by implementing several methods. Be careful you don’t choose too many, though. It’s easy to get stretched so thin that you aren’t helpful to anyone. You can see many examples on Facebook and Twitter of overwhelmed social media and customer service managers trying to respond to angry customers and giving canned replies that only serve to frustrate the person further.
4. Engage Your Users
If you can keep your users highly engaged, they’re more likely to return to your website or social media pages. Send out notes to them to let them know a new product arrived. Wish them a happy birthday. Offer a coupon for their loyalty.
Email newsletters can be an effective way to stay in touch. You can even segment your audience so you send only offers to each person that they might truly be interested in. Host contests, fun games and events for your loyal fans. Let them have perks, such as inviting a friend to a local customer appreciation dinner.
5. Improve Your App Design
Experts predict the mobile app industry will hit $613 billion by 2025. With more people than ever before tapping into the internet of things (IoT), expect mobile apps to become an integral part of running any type of business.
If you don’t already have an app for your company, you’re missing out on opportunities to ping customers about new releases, clearance specials and other offers. However, if your app isn’t designed well, you risk driving people away.
Spend a bit of time revamping your app for usability. Is it simple to click each thing? Are elements limited to only what’s needed/popular? Look for bottlenecks in the process and fix them.
6. Be Consistent
If you want people to remember your brand and return when they need what you sell, you must present a consistent personality and appearance. Establish a brand color palette. Huge corporations, such as United Parcel Service use specific colors in their uniforms, on their vehicles and with their logos to create a sense of continuity.
You also should nail down policies, so if a customer phones about a problem, they get the same answer from any agent they speak with. Few things are as frustrating as talking to one customer service representative about a solution and then having the next one tell you the solution can’t be done.
Put Yourself in the Consumer’s Shoes
Think about what makes you loyal to the brands you frequent. Implement similar features and policies. Ask your customers what they’d prefer and listen to their recommendations. Over time, you’ll develop a strong relationship with your audience and they’ll return for repeat sales. Ideally, they’ll also tell others about your brand so your business grows from referrals.