People often confuse customer satisfaction with customer loyalty, but the two are very different things. A customer may be 100% satisfied with your product, but they may still look for alternatives the next time they are shopping for a similar item. A loyal customer, on the other hand, will repeat-buy your product, even if the other options are cheaper or even better. A customer who is loyal to your brand is also more likely to buy other products in your range without first shopping around. Building customer loyalty takes time and effort, but the reward is guaranteed sales. Here are ten strategies to adopt if you want your customers to be loyal to your brand.
Don’t Focus All Your Efforts on Gaining New Business
The first step towards building customer loyalty is to make existing customers a priority. Don’t reserve your best prices for new customers, and don’t focus all your marketing efforts on generating new business. Start thinking about how you can improve your customer’s opinion of your brand and don’t alienate existing customers by focusing too heavily on new business.
The Customer Comes First
If you are to engage with your customers successfully, customer care must be a priority throughout the business. The business must become customer-centric from the top levels of management to the customer-facing employees.
Honesty Pays Dividends
People only give their loyalty to people they trust, so always be honest and transparent with your customers. If you make a mistake that affects customers, admit that you were wrong and apologize for the error. Do not oversell your products and do not use tricks such as hidden charges. Train your salespeople to be honest with customers. If a product is not a good fit for a customer’s needs, tell them. Your honesty may mean that you lose some sales, but it will increase customer trust and loyalty in the long run.
Deliver on Your Promises
Every time you deliver on a promise, you increase the trust that a customer has in your brand. So, don’t offer next-day delivery if you know that there is a good chance the product will not arrive until the day after. Being honest and only making promises that you know you can keep will show the customer that you are not taking them for granted.
The Little Things Count
Remember that it is the little things that can make a customer feel valued. Turning down the bed in a hotel room, for example, serves no real purpose. Even so, turning down the bed does make the guest feel special. The smallest touches can cost very little, but they can make a significant difference in how the customer perceives the company.
Offer More than Loyalty Discounts
Loyalty discounts are an effective way to increase customer loyalty. Even so, lower prices are only one way of showing that you appreciate your customers. You could also invite customers to exclusive events, send them free tickets to go and see a movie, or you could arrange for a restaurant chain to offer discounted meals to your customers. Think outside the box when you are rewarding customer loyalty, and it will differentiate you from your competition.
Encourage Customer Feedback
Encourage both praise and criticism from customers and act on both types of feedback. Make it as easy as possible for customers to communicate with your business through multiple channels, including email, social media, telephone, and chatbots on your website. Customers are more loyal to brands that listen to them and take on board their opinions and ideas.
Make the Relationship Personal
Get away from being a faceless corporation and engage customers on a personal level instead. Don’t limit your contact with your customers to only marketing and sales pitches. Send your customers news about your business, advice on how best to use your products, and send customers a birthday or anniversary card as well.
Offer Quality Products and Top-Class Service
Of course, the cornerstone of any customer-focused business must be quality. Special attention must be paid to quality control and staff training if you are going to build a loyal customer base. Remember that your loyal customers are not only good for repeat business. Loyal customers also make great brand ambassadors, so investing in customer loyalty will boost new business sales as well.
Identify Regular Customers and Look After Them
Make a point of identifying loyal customers who make regular purchases from your business. Make those loyal customers a priority for extra care and attention. As is the case with any relationship, loyalty is a two-way thing. So, show your gratitude to your regular customers by being loyal to them in return.
As you can see from the above points, customer service is only one part of the customer loyalty equation. To build a loyal customer base, you must also connect with your customers on a personal level and put the customer first. Don’t take your customers for granted, and they will return the favor with their loyalty. That loyalty will bring you a reliable income stream and lots of new customer referrals.
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