What’s the long-term value of a loyal customer? Let’s start with a look at the “non-loyal” customer. He or she will:
- Abandon your business after one mistake in delivery or a bad moment with your customer service representative
- Jettison your business if they find better pricing from a competitor, even if the quality of that competitor’s product or service is suspect
- If sufficiently disgruntled, spread the word on social media—potentially damaging your brand’s reputation before you have a chance to defend yourself
Given these scenarios—and considering the high cost of new customer acquisition—there’s a lot to be said for cultivating long-term loyalty among your current customer base. Here’s a look at key loyalty-boosting strategies to boost greater allegiance to your brand:
1. Reward loyalty with exclusive offers. Loyalty doesn’t count for much if there’s nothing “special” about it. Explore options such as offering exclusive discounts, free shipping or a points-based loyalty program you can promote on social media and in email marketing campaigns.
2. Be active in the community (and foster a community among your customers). People respond favorably to businesses that display a sense of civic duty. What type of charity events or non-profit involvement seems like a logical fit with your business? Get involved in your community and don’t be shy about publicizing these efforts on your website and social media platforms.
In the same spirit, how about cultivating a sense of community within your business? If possible, invite customers to visit your retail space and host events where they can mingle with you and other customers. Over time, such gatherings can instill a genuine sense of being “part of a family.”
3. Give customers a say in product development. If you’re looking at a product upgrade or new product launch, why not contact some of your loyal customers and get their feedback? This kind of informal collaboration not only generates loyalty (in terms of the customer’s pride of ownership), but helps ensure that Product 2.0 will more effectively meet your customers’ needs.
“We’ve used a private Facebook group of ‘super users’ to encourage customers to discuss their needs,” says Victoria Lynch of the UK-based Additional Lengths Ltd. Giving customers this kind of influence “has paid dividends both for product development and brand value overall, because people can see that we are listening and responding.”
4. Share your expertise and insights. You’re an expert in your field, or you wouldn’t be leading a successful business. Create opportunities to share your expertise and insights with loyal customers—for example, through once-a-quarter email newsletters—and invite them to ask questions on your website or blog. If the information you provide proves helpful (in terms of boosting their own customer loyalty or getting them over a business hurdler), their gratitude and loyalty will be strengthened and more likely endure.
5. Remember customers’ special occasions. Marking an event like a birthday can be both a pleasant surprise and a touching gesture towards your customers. Entrepreneur Jai Rawat suggests motivating customers “to provide their special dates when they opt in to your newsletter” and then “reward them with bonus loyalty points” on their birthday.
6. Always provide a quality customer experience. Perhaps most importantly, do everything in your power to ensure customer satisfaction with your business at every touchpoint. Provide extra training where needed for customer service representatives. Invest in the most advanced and customer-friendly technology so people can easily contact you with inquiries or complaints. In these days of fragmented and often deficient service, people will often pay more for a quality customer experience.
Putting more effort into cultivating long-term loyalty will help keep your business growing in 2017 and beyond.