Customer loyalty is a measure of how likely customers are to do repeat business with your company. The ability to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers is key to keeping your revenue flowing and crucial to business success. A loyal customer base spends 67 per cent more than occasional customers, demonstrating why a focus on repeat business is essential. A 5 per cent improvement in customer retention rates can yield between 25 to 100 per cent increase in profits across industries. While repeat buyers may not always be the biggest purchasers, over time the revenue from them will top big one-time buyers, making them your most valuable customers. However, there is no easy way or shortcut to building relationships and gaining loyalty. Instead you have to learn as much as you can about your customers and their wants, as well as matching this with your own passion and commitment. The five strategies listed below are aimed at helping your business increase customer loyalty and nurture meaningful relationships.
Strategy 1: Increase your Responsiveness
If you want loyal customers, you need to make sure you are giving customers the best service they can find and providing them with as much attention as is realistic. According to the 2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey, three out of four consumers believe a business’ customer service reflects how much they value customers. Customers will reflect on every interaction they have with your staff and your business and will use these interactions to evaluate your service. When a customer queues in line, works with a staff member to find a product in store, makes a return, calls about a broken product after purchase, or sends a question through on social media, they’re making judgement calls about your business.
This means in-store staff must be friendly, knowledgeable and helpful; the customer support team should be accessible and solve problems in a time efficient manner; and your company should answer questions fast, even those sent on social media. Research shows customers want service via social media and they expect a fast response. Almost half of consumers expect a response within half an hour on social media. If you demonstrate to customers that they can reach you when they need you, then they will believe you genuinely care about providing information and support to them.
Strategy 2: Listen to Feedback
When caught up in trying to maximise customer acquisition, it can be easy to overlook your existing customer base. However, customer reviews go hand-in-hand with customer loyalty. Good reviews will drive potential clients towards your business, while good service will convert potential clients into customers and happy customers will leave good reviews. This becomes a reinforced cycle that can either boost your reputation or devalue it, depending on how customers feel about your service and how they talk about your business.
It’s important to listen to valuable advice, even if it is something you don’t want to hear. Every business should make an effort to collect feedback from customers and to take action following this feedback. Regularly ask for feedback in the form of website surveys and email questionnaires. If customers complain about the layout of the store, for example, then take steps to fix the layout. Acknowledge the feedback and once the improvement has been made, tell customers about it, showing them you’re not only listening to their feedback, but acting on it too.
Strategy 3: Reward your Customers
One of the best strategies to keep customers coming back is to reward them for their loyalty. The easiest way of doing this is to create a loyalty program that provides customers with exclusive offers, discounts and gifts. Customers want to feel appreciated. They can spend their money at any business and they’ve chosen yours — it’s important to return the favour. The easiest way to do this is to reward loyal customers through punch cards. For example, at the local coffee shop you will often find stamp cards. After nine stamps from nine purchases, customers are often given the tenth coffee free. In this example, a stamp card is a good way of getting customers to continue coming back to your store, rather than the cafe down the street.
Another way of rewarding customers is by creating a points-back system and a loyalty program that requires a loyalty card and sometimes can also include a smartphone app. Customers can earn points with their purchases and are often provided opportunities to double their rewards on certain days of the month and can graduate through different tiers of loyalty. Customers can also collect ‘points’ for purchases, which can be exchanged for discounts or free items. A rewards program like this can also help a company get to know their customers better by storing their order information on the app. Storing customer data can also streamline the purchasing process, for instance not having to input credit card information every time a new purchase is made can help customers save time.
Strategy 4: Provide Extra Value
Although you need money to run your business and selling a product or service helps pay the bills, if you only connect with customers when you want them to purchase something, you’ll find it hard to connect with them in the long term. Another way of demonstrating to customers that you appreciate their business is by providing extra value where you can. For example, you could consider hosting a customer appreciation event to show your gratitude, or showcase a local charity your business supports in the monthly newsletter, or send customers links to helpful articles on your blog or social media.
You could also offer additional conveniences, making life easier for your customers, which will encourage them to return to your business. Consider ways of making the customer experience simpler or faster, this could include streamlining the checkout process and answering questions on social media, rather than forcing customers to go through an automated maze of menus over the phone. Another way you can make people feel valued is by adding thoughtful touches. This could include sending customers a voucher or gift during holiday season or thanking clients at the end of the year for doing business with you. If a client or customer has also made a step forward in business or in their social life, also help them celebrate this by giving them a shout out on a social media post or sending them a gift to celebrate. Anything you can do to show your customers you think about and remember them will help improve your relationship with them and their loyalty to your business.
Strategy 5: Communicate Effectively
Despite taking on board all the strategies listed above, if you don’t communicate effectively with your customers then they won’t be happy. If you let your clients speak and listen closely to their needs, desires, concerns and feedback then you show them you value them. Also make sure to ask clients and customers about things that might be important to them, including their family, hobbies and birth dates. Paying attention to and remembering these details can help customers feel special and lets them know you care about them and the relationship you have built with them. If your customer provides negative feedback then make sure to remain professional and to judge the feedback objectively. It also helps to stay in touch with your top customers, which can be as simple as reaching out every few months to check in on how they’re going and if they need your services or assistance.
The value of effective and personalised communication when it comes to customer service is often overlooked. A voicemail assistant like Vxt can improve your customer service by helping you stay on top of your voice messages and the many time-consuming tasks associated with running your business. Vxt helps manage missed calls, converting voicemail to text and forwarding them to email, allowing you to detect urgent messages from potential clients and replying to them before they choose to go elsewhere. Vxt also offers contact-based greetings, which allow you to play custom greetings for different contacts. With contact-based greetings you can astound your contacts with greetings specific to them. It allows you to create a closer relationship with key people in your business and personal life. By utilising tools like Vxt, you can ensure your customers feel valued and listened to, while also spending more time on growing your business.
Making clients feel valued may take more energy, time and perhaps even money upfront, but you will find the value returned exponentially through customer loyalty. It makes sense though, happy customers spend more money, more often. There are loads of other benefits to a loyal customer base too, such as positive online reviews and free advertising by word-of-mouth. Increasing customer loyalty is also cheaper for businesses, as it costs seven times more to gain a new customer than to retain a current one. By taking note of and putting into action the strategies listed above, you can improve customer loyalty for your business.