Something that every business owner knows, or at least should know, is that it costs considerably more to secure the business of a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. For this reason, among others, it is very important that businesses pay attention to the loyalty they are fostering among their customers.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also be looking to secure yourself a new business, of course you should, but you must also consider your longer-term customers and their needs.
Why Customer Loyalty Matters
Ensuring that your customers are loyal and that they have a positive view of your business isn’t just cheaper than chasing new customers. Loyal customers are far more likely to recommend your business to their friends and relatives. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful and effective marketing techniques that there is. However, it is also one of the most difficult to influence yourself.
Fostering loyalty amongst your customers will therefore inevitably lead to some free marketing, and to a greater awareness of your business amongst consumers.
Effectively fostering customer loyalty isn’t exactly simple, it will require some thought and a coherent strategy. However, it is much easier than many people think it is. You don’t want to be one of those businesses that fall behind simply because they have neglected this one very important area.
Read on to find out how you can easily increase loyalty amongst your customers and gain yourself lifelong patrons.
Personalisation is one of the most effective tools you have when it comes to making your customers feel special and encouraging loyalty towards your brand. Personalisation can be as simple as automatically using the customer’s name in emails, or as complex as using algorithms to work out their preferences and tastes.
These two examples of personalisation are familiar to us all from everyday life. If you look through your inbox now, you will likely find many examples of businesses contacting you and addressing you by your first name in their communications. Similarly, any of us who have ever shopped online at Amazon, or watched films on Netflix, will have had things recommended to us by these services. If you plan on sending your customers a welcome email, for example, make sure to use the customer’s first name to make it seem more personal.
Show Them That They are Valued
Anything you can do in order to make your customers understand that they are valued is worthwhile. Most of us will interact with businesses on occasion, but it is only a small portion of them that we become regular patrons of. If you want your customers to feel valued, and to consistently choose your business over others, you will need to show them that shopping with your business is advantageous to them.
The most common way of rewarding loyal customers is to institute some kind of loyalty programme, often in the form of a card. Whatever form your loyalty programme takes, the specifics aren’t important; it should be actively encouraging customers to give you their business. Whether this comes in the form of a certain percentage of each pound spent, as most loyalty cards are, or as some other inventive, a robust loyalty programme will more than pay for itself.
Part of fostering loyalty with your customers is being reliable and consistent. It is vital that you don’t make empty promises to your most loyal customers. Be prepared to follow through on all your promises, and always be mindful of the fact that sincerity can count for a lot. If you don’t deliver on promises that you make to your customers, you can be certain that they will remember these transgressions, and they will adjust their opinions of you accordingly.
Being honest with your customers, even when it costs you money in the short term, is a very wise long-term investment. No matter what industry you work in, if you are willing to be open and honest with your customers, they will reward you with their loyalty. All of us have different tastes and preferences; no business can realistically expect to cater to everybody.
If you find yourself faced with a customer who you feel would be better served by a competitor, being honest with them about this fact will count for a lot. Not only will it demonstrate that you have loyalty to your customers, in the long term, it ensures that customers will come to you first for future recommendations and advice.
Don’t Let Technology Replace the Human Touch
Technology has a lot to offer both businesses and consumers. However, if businesses are over-reliant on technology, they can end up losing a vital aspect of good customer service. For example, while it’s fine to use automated processes for some of your technical support, you should also give your customers the option to speak to a human operator.
Fostering customer loyalty should be an ongoing concern for any business. Make sure that all your staff, at all levels, understand the importance of interacting with customers with a view to boosting loyalty.