Customer loyalty is essential for any small or large business’s survival. Marketing literature proves that acquisition of new customers is costlier than nurturing and retaining existing customers who give repeat business. It would appear North America only realized that customer loyalty could and should be something to strive for at some point in the late 18th century when retailers started giving returning customers copper coins that could be redeemed for products in the future.
Loyalty programs have obviously changed since. Customer expectations and attitudes are drastically different today, but since repeat customers are known to spend up to 67 per cent more than new customers, it’s worth taking a look at the most recent strategies for building customer loyalty.
State Your Values Clearly and Honestly
Before dealing with any financial incentives, consider how your company is presenting itself to the world. Transparency is a major incentive on its own when it’s sincere. While developing a strategy with your marketing team, have an honest conversation about what your company’s values are and how to best transmit those to an audience.
A word of warning, though. Audiences can sense insincerity a mile away. One doesn’t have to look too far for examples. Millennials are still cackling over the CIA’s absurd attempt to speak directly to them with a youthful agent using buzzwords.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
There’s nothing more aggravating to a customer than an unreachable or unhelpful customer service line. Reddit’s customer service subreddit is full of horror stories from customers complaining about their worst experiences. A study shows that 89 per cent of customers believe that quick, direct contact after an initial inquiry is important when deciding who to buy products from.
Get Loyalists to Spread the Word for You
After that absolutely essential conversation about what your values are, you can then find your fanbase. This can be done on social media, through Twitter, Facebook, or other platforms. Your loyalists are the ones that often share your posts and tweets.
They’re especially important to companies that are in their infancy when word-of-mouth is of great importance. Your job is to learn all you can about them. Speak with them if you can as they will determine a large part of your customer base. You can also utilize online fandoms by continuing to encourage fans to spread the word.
After they’ve done their part, you can reward them with a small gift such as a coupon or a selection of new products.
A Good, Old-Fashioned Rewards Program
Sometimes, old traditions work best. While copper coins may be old hat, some modern variation on them can play just as well. Offer incentives for repeat purchases to customers who regularly return. These can be based on points systems through apps that like the virtual version of a punch card.
And finally, if you’re unsure why you aren’t maintaining loyal customers, perhaps it’s time to ask for specific feedback from the public to see what errors you may have made and address them. You can always win people back.
Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer