Customer Loyalty is the lifeblood of your business. You can have old branding and minimal marketing, and your loyal customers will more than likely still shop with you because they like you and the products you provide. They are evergreen and repeat consumers, so you should consider them as part of your brand strategy. To help you build your base up, let’s take a look at:
- Your customer service
- Your loyalty programs
- Your customer acquisition strategies
Your Customer Service
This is by far the easiest way to build brand loyalty. There is so much research around it out there, and it all shows that if a customer has a good service experience, they’re more likely to repeat shop and recommend you to others. Furthermore, it can be considerably more beneficial to your bottom line – retaining an existing customer can be five times more cost-effective than attracting new ones!
Customer service is more than a face-to-face interaction too. It can be anything from a fast email response to a complete product replacement – anything that feels faster, more considerate, and sets you apart from your competitors is going to be to your benefit.
On the flip side, one bad experience, even if you’re just following company rules about the refund dates, can put a black mark against your name in the customer’s book.
You can’t just hire someone for the bare minimum of knowing how to use a till or having worked in a similar shop before – customer service is an attitude:
- Are they friendly?
- Are they informed?
- Are they efficient?
- Are they considerate?
Whether you’re serving in person or via social channels, your customer service must be all these things and more.
Your Loyalty Programs
One sure-fire way to ensure repeat business is through a beneficial rewards scheme. After all – who doesn’t love a freebie? Reward schemes and loyalty programs are commonplace in many industries:
- Cafes have loyalty stamps and cards for free hot drinks
- Restaurants have mailing lists with regular discounts or a 2 for 1 offer
- Grocery stores and pharmacies have points systems where you can eventually use the points to purchase things.
There are many iterations of loyalty schemes – it’s all about finding one that suits your business.
Consider the following when setting up your scheme:
- What type of business are you?
- How often are your customers likely to shop with you?
- Is there a cost-effective item that can be discounted or made free?
- What action or behavior do you want to reward? i.e. referring customers, spending over a certain amount, etc.
- How would you like the scheme to be redeemed – by app, card, or online?
It’s all a delicate mix of customer and business considerations – it has to be beneficial to all, but the cost to your bottom line should be minimized where possible.
Your customer acquisition strategies
Now you have a few ways to increase loyalty, it’s time to see how you can improve your business and make the most of the valuable resource at your disposal.
These loyal and happy customers are your friends now – they’re supportive, happy to spend with you and care about your vision, so why not do what all friends do and ask for their advice? Customer feedback is an incredibly valuable tool to improve your business, processes and products. And it can help you acquire new patrons too.
Whether you’re monitoring your reviews and social tags for comments, or directly asking customers to take part in return for rewards, you should make the most of the feedback when you get it:
- Act fast when there are negative touchpoints
- Use the feedback to inform your product development
- Take note of any potential future issues or needs you may have to meet
An additional benefit to this (besides product and store improvements and customer acquisition) is your patrons can see that you are taking their advice and acting on it. They feel heard, and that’s only going to increase their brand loyalty.
Customer convenience is another way to encourage new buyers to try your products and business out. We’re talking about free delivery, quick checkout experiences and increased payment options. Anything that will make their shopping with you more efficient or accommodating is likely to build brand loyalty and encourage repeat visits.
Brand loyalty may be beneficial for your bottom line, but for the customer, it’s a constantly developing feeling. We’ve already touched on how a bad experience can sour a brand for the consumer, but with a strong customer-brand relationship, it may not mean you lose them for good. Providing extras you think they may like and adding value outside of their purchases is incredibly important. Some appreciation activities and added value include customer appreciation events where they gain early access to sales or get the opportunity to trial new products for free. Even providing blog content and sharing it in newsletters can help. As can aligning your values and charitable activities with theirs.
At the end of the day, brand and customer loyalty is all about building a connection through beneficial and like-minded activities. If you can offer loyalty programs, align your values, promote relevant content and show your appreciation for your loyal patrons, then your customer-brand relationship will be strong enough for anything. It may even stand the test of a less than stellar blip on the experience radar.