These days, the importance of customer loyalty cannot be overstated. Consumers have about a million options when choosing where to spend their money.
You not only want them to choose to spend money at your company, but you want them to keep coming back for years.
Building customer loyalty takes effort, especially today, when many believe that customer service is dead and smaller companies have to compete with online behemoths promising low prices and fast delivery.
But, it’s far from impossible, and in fact, building customer loyalty is essential to any successful business. According to Marketing Metrics, you’ll successfully sell to an existing customer almost 70% of the time, whereas you’ll successfully sell to new customers about 5 to 20% of the time.
Here are 7 fool-proof ways you can build customer loyalty starting today.
- Be loyal to your customers
Treat others how you would like to be treated. That’s the golden rule in life and in business. Show your customers that you are loyal to them, even after the sale.
Follow up with them to ask if they are having or had a good experience with your product or service. If they say they did not ask what you can do to make it better. Showing customers that you care about them, and not just their dollars.
- Be honest (even if you lose business)
All consumers tend to approach sales transactions with at least a bit of skepticism. They know that the salesperson wants to make a sale and may bend the truth to do so.
That’s why extreme honesty stands out. There may be a time, every once in a while, where you know of a competitor whose product or service will better meet the needs of potential customers.
Imagine a potential customer’s surprise when you recommend your competitor. In the customer’s eyes, your trustworthiness goes up 100%. They will not forget that. They’ll return in the future and likely even tell friends and family the tale of “when a salesperson was completely honest with me.”
- Give rewards
Rewards programs are a short-cut to customer loyalty. Customers love getting discounts, freebies, perks, and surprises. That can come in the form of a free gift on their birthday, discounts after spending a certain amount, exclusive access to new merchandise, and really, anything else you think they’d like.
The important thing is to keep your rewards program simple and free. Many retailers today can sign people up immediately with a cell phone number or email.
Also, track their rewards status on your system. Don’t ask customers to keep a punch card or hold onto a printed coupon.
Finally, give rewards at reasonable intervals. Whether it’s based on number of visits or amount of money spent, keep it attainable. For example, give customers a reward after they spend $100, not $1,000.
- Up your social media game
Use social media outlets for more than just advertisements. Give customers reason to stay engaged with your content. Post videos, educational content, and jokes.
Run online contests and encourage customers to post their own content using your product. People will remember you if you make them smile. Social media is the easiest way to send out “good vibes” to customers.
- Cover your communication bases
Customers can and will try to communicate with your business in any number of ways. They can call, send an email, ask a question on your Facebook page, send a message via Instagram, tag you in a tweet, and it goes on and on.
As a business owner, you and your employees must keep an eye on these methods of communication and be ready to answer any customer queries fairly quickly.
Being responsive tells a customer that you’re paying attention and helps build customer loyalty. Telling a customer “we barely have time to check email” or “we never look at our Facebook messages” is just another way of saying, “your questions aren’t important.”
- Give a little extra to regulars
Every customer deserves our complete care and attention. But you also have those customers who are regulars, who have been with you since Day 1, who really support your business.
Those customers deserve a little extra. Give them a surprise discount on their next purchase. Offer to waive delivery fees, no matter how small the item.
If they have a tight schedule, you could even offer to personally deliver items to them. Or, invite them to come in before or after regular business hours to get what they need.
- Listen to customers
Customer feedback is the most important tool you have in improving customer loyalty.
If you ask questions in a survey or face-to-face, customers will answer with honesty. Ask what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. Are there products or services you aren’t offering, but should be?
Are they planning on visiting you in the future? Why or why not? Listen to that feedback and then take actions to enhance what’s right and improve what’s wrong.
Customer Loyalty is Everything
Today, customers tend to value experience over price alone. That bodes well for those who might not be able to slash prices, but know how to deliver outstanding customer service, and build true customer loyalty over time.