Improving Customer Loyalty Needs to Be a Priority
It is not easy building a customer base, especially in competitive markets. We tend to focus a lot on how to get new customers and sometimes forget to think about what to do to keep them. What we do to grow our business and gain new customers is “marketing”, what we do to keep those new customers is “retention”. Both are vital to business, but a case could be made that the latter is more important.
How to Improve Customer Loyalty
Share Your Values
Consumers like to do business with companies that share their own values. To build loyalty, you need to tell them what your brand stands for. Identify with your customer base and create communities on social media platforms to start conversations and encourage user-generated content. For example, ask customers to share pictures of your product and share them on Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
This seems obvious, right? You’re right, it is. But few companies really grasp what it means to provide excellent customer service. Going above and beyond to answer a customer’s question or help them with a problem is what it takes to create lifelong customers. Make life easier for your customers, spend time talking to them, and be transparent. Customers are the life blood of your business and should be treated as such. Listen to customers and address their concerns in a timely manner. Don’t make it difficult for them to get in touch with a representative. Display email addresses, phone numbers, and social media accounts on your website and in your emails.
“Under promise and over deliver” as the old saying goes. If you have a policy promising phone calls will be returned within 24 hours, have your reps reach out in 6 hours or less, that’s exceeding customer expectations. Or let’s say a customer has a return but it’s past your 30-day return policy. Listen to the customer and determine whether their reasoning is valid and be flexible whenever possible. Wouldn’t it make sense to allow the return instead of refusing and potentially losing that customer? And finally, always do what you say you’re going to do.
Admit When You Make a Mistake
This can be hard, let’s face it. No one likes to be wrong, but mistakes happen; and customers can be more understanding than we sometimes think. Do not be defensive or sensitive if you’re called out for something that was your fault. A simple, honest, straight forward explanation and apology will get you further than denials or deflection.
Remember your customers name, preferences, and dislikes. Use their first name in conversation and in email correspondence. Send a birthday greeting with a special offer or a coupon on the anniversary of when they became a customer. Who doesn’t appreciate being appreciated? Personalized messages and relationships create an emotional bond.
Be an Expert
Customers need to know their questions will be answered by people who know their business. You, your sales staff, and your administrators need training to be able to answer their questions, otherwise your customers could start to lose trust in your company and its abilities. Be a trusted expert in your field and share your expertise on question/answer sites or by writing blogs on your website.
Ask for Their Feedback
What is the best way to find out how your customers feel about your business and services? Ask! Whenever a customer completes a sale, ask them for their feedback through an email questionnaire or an online survey on your website. Gaining feedback will help you address areas of concern, anticipate potential problems, and build on the areas where you’re most successful.
Initiate a Loyalty Program
Loyal customers deserve ongoing rewards. Instead of offering all the incentives to new customers only, give your loyal customers incentives as well. Maybe use a tier system to provide a small reward then increase that reward over time. You could also, depending on your business, create a VIP service (think Amazon Prime) that you could charge for annually that gives your loyal customers special benefits. Be creative!
Building Customer Loyalty Benefits Business in Numerous Ways
A loyal customer base can save you from spending marketing dollars. It costs much more to gain new customers than to retain existing customers. And of course, word of mouth is completely free. A customer who recommends you to new potential customers is better than any commercial or print ad. People trust personal recommendations. Loyal customers can guarantee income for your business now and for years to come. Building this loyalty just takes a personal touch, some creativity, and a sense of genuine gratefulness to get started. Always remember, it’s the little things that matter.
Michael Allen, CPA
Allen & Company, PC
(770) 428-6229 (T)
(770) 425-5481 (F)