Increasing customer loyalty is a very important aspect of business today. There are too many choices for customers to go elsewhere on a whim. This is not to say that a company shouldn’t continue to acquire new customers, but the loyal customers are the ones that will name drop you in conversations. They will recommend you to their friends and family. They will broadcast your message on social channels and in emails.
But how do you keep them? How do you keep them around? Simply put, treat these customers as you would want to be treated. We’re taught this easy to remember rule as kids and it applies here. Even now, as you may be providing the service and/or products to customers, you yourself are a customer to other businesses as well. How do you like to be treated when you go to your favorite store or restaurant? Is it because of the way you’re treated from the time you walk in the door?
Business owners should be even more prepared and alert to know what the preferences and wants of customers on both sides of the counter. You provide the resources that customers depend on you to share so that their experience is a win from start-to-finish. This can lay the foundation on which loyalty can be built upon.
Your employees that are front-facing are the faces of the company. They are on the frontlines, they hear the complaints, they see buying trends and can have a direct impact on whether or not customers stay loyal and a positive buying experience. Empower your employees by opening lines of conversations with them. Ask them what they are hearing or what they are seeing. Customers will express their concerns or whether they like a change in pricing, products, services, etc.
An easy way to open these lines of communication is to have regular staff meetings and listening to them. Being open to change and listening to the dialogue can tell you more than almost any other type of data because it is coming straight from the customer.
Since communication has been mentioned, remember that customers want that communication, they want to know what is happening with their favorite companies because it impacts them directly. It creates a sense of belonging to a community of peers and like-minded people.
Customers are savvy. There isn’t an ignorant consumer anymore waiting for a salesperson to take advantage of them. They do their research online. They may even go to a local store to actually touch the product and then go online and purchase because the prices are cheaper.
But they’ll frequent the businesses they’re familiar with because you offer expertise in the product they are seeking. They may know about the product or service, but because you have chosen to open a business in that vertical, you are the expert in their opinion.
Share this knowledge. An easy way to do this is with a company blog or sharing of information through social media channels. Build a database of knowledge. Share on a FAQ page. Loyal customers can even be employed to share this information. Offer simple rewards for this. A logo cap or t-shirt can do wonders for customer loyalty.
There are a lot of companies that make this a priority. They have become totally transparent to the detriment of possibly losing business. They share company policies, their purchasing and supply choices and even manufacturing information. The ice cream company, Ben and Jerry’s, has adapted this practice. They share information on where and how their dairy products are produced. A factory tour shows the commitment to the environment and production practices to anyone that attends. The only item that they won’t share is the recipe for their ice cream flavors sadly.
In exchange for this information, you can use the opportunity to ask your customers what they think of the company. Ask how the company can improve the buying experience. While it may be hard to ask these questions in person or on a phone call, most of the time, an email or online survey will work. If you are not receiving the amount of feedback you seek, offer the logo cap or t-shirt as a reward or a discount on future purchases.
Rewarding customers have become a regular occurrence for most companies today. When a customer is at the POS (Point of Sale), the clerk will offer a discount for applying for a credit card usually. Some companies offer a points system with a reward after a certain amount of accrued points. For example, Starbucks will offer free drinks after an amount of purchases are met.
Customers will also become loyal to companies that share the same values and they will return for the simplest of reasons; be loyal to them.