Wikipedia defines loyalty as “faithfulness or devotion to someone or something“. Well, it has always been one of the best qualities we look for in our friends and loved ones. As highly social creatures, we need to have someone on our side, supporting and encouraging us to move forward, whether we talk about personal life or business.
How to gain and increase customer loyalty?
Living in the ‘Age of the Customer’, where clients’ expectations around personalization continue to grow, most companies do their best to truly deliver qualitative one-to-one experiences, making people choose their products or services in a highly competitive business environment. A perfect example of this can be seen through Zappos and what’ve they’ve been able to establish themselves as over the years. You can buy shoes from anywhere, but you shop at Zappos for the experience.
Jeffrey Gitomer says it best… “You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You loyalty day-by-day.”
Even huge multi-million dollar companies like Zappos have to start off somewhere, and they got to where they are today by taking it one day at a time.
This is something I also discussed in detailed when I got to interview Peter Shankman. Our discussion was on how nice companies finish first, and why it’s easier than ever to make an impression with your brand or business — when so many others are doing it wrong.
To improve customer loyalty within your own business or brand, be sure to implement the following practices into your daily operations.
1. Don’t take your customers for granted
The recent survey shows that the majority of customers (approximately 71%) give up on the brand or finish up business relationship because of poor customer service. In the era of tweets, Facebook and Instagram messages, customers are still looking for conversation with a real human being, i.e. a qualified customer service rep, able to help them in their shopping experience. Therefore, ensure that you have right people in your team.
2. Say ‘Hi’ and don’t forget about ‘Goodbye’
Everyone knows that people remember the first and the last moment of the conversation longer and much better than anything happened in between. The way you welcome and thank your clients is crucial for your business success. So, don’t forget to put a friendly smile in front of your customers and say goodbye to the employees with a ‘grumpy cat’ face.
3. Better one small fish than an empty dish
Every customer is important, whether he is going to spend $5 or 5,000 bucks. If you have many loyal customers, they will bring you a stable cash flow every day. If you put a lot of efforts trying to convert a ‘whale’, and forget about regular customers that are waiting for your attention, you should take a risk of losing tons of ‘plankton’ feeding your business.
4. Light up your employees
To be honest, usually your employees don’t care about your customers, unless you do care about your employees! It’s one of your primary challenges to encourage your team to deliver really great customer service and make their job rewarding. The more time you spend educating your representatives and providing them with new sources of inspiration (e.g. taking them to the trade shows), the more they give back to your customers, promoting your goods and services the best way possible.
5. Do pleasant surprises
It won’t cost you much, but it will definitely bring you lots of loyalty points among your audience. Let’s take a very simple situation as an example:
6. Forecast the future
People are always good at convincing themselves that they really need what they want. According to the current Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, the purchase decision-making process can be described as 70% emotional vs. 30% rational! Out task is to give people what they want, with a slight reason to need it. Loyalty comes when you learn to forecast your customers’ needs before they understand it.
When it comes to customer loyalty, it’s no surprise to see some of the most well-known and respected brands in the world on the list. It’s not so much that they wanted to create businesses based off the success of customer service and loyalty, it’s simply something that comes with the environment. You can’t have one without the other.
7. Follow the ‘Satisfied Customer Rules’
Deep satisfaction with your goods and services is the core for building and maintaining loyalty in your customers’ minds. Herewith, it won’t be excessive to remember the ‘Golden’ and the ‘Platinum Rule’. The Golden Rule teaches us to treat others as we want to be treated. It can be perfectly applied to business relations and reflected in 100% customer satisfaction, meaning the highest level of presented goods and customer services.
How to Reward and Engage with Your Audience
According to the Platinum Rule, we should interact with the customers in the way they choose. If a person sends you an e-mail, try to e-mail him/her back. If he tries to reach out to you by phone, take a minute to call him. If someone leaves a comment on your social media page, follow this person and leave your reply. This is no longer an internet based off one-sided conversations — it’s now all about engagement and forming a relationship with your fans, followers and customers.
Today, numerous tools, such as Loyalty Programs for Magento, X-Cart or any other eCommerce CMS, help you build up positive and healthy business relationships with your customers. Now you can easily create your own Loyalty Program that will include the whole range of customer rewards, discounts and bonuses. Comprehensive and well-thought-out program will increase the average order amount and, as a result, will drive more sales. Just think of it!
To start increasing your brand’s loyalty towards it’s audience and customers, run through the list again and see how you can apply each of these into your current day to day operations. As mentioned at the beginning of the article… loyalty isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s earned over time.