A company’s greatest threat is a bunch of indifferent customers. And merely satisfying customers does not safeguard you against indifference. You’re no different from any other business accepting consumers’ hard-earned money if you don’t leave them with a lasting impression. They need to be truly engaged to your brand to be immune from the promotional offers and added convenience offered by your competitors - especially during the holiday period. To increase customer loyalty you need to provide an exchange where the customer feels rewarded, valued and understood. And though that’s far from easy, if you keep these three steps in mind, you’re half-way there!
Customer loyalty step 1. Understand your customer
The golden rule of sales and service is to first understand where the need is, and then to fulfil it. So don’t be afraid to ask some questions. If you operate a webshop, you can do this easily using proactive chat. Take your customer’s answers and create relevant needs-based personas which you can target with one or more of the following: - Industry data and whitepapers
- Helpful reminders (time to renew, upgrade, acquire something) or lifestyle tips
- Suggested products or events of interest
- Carefully selected free samples
Free samples can be especially effective because they entice the consumer back to the store. I order my favourite brand of cosmetics from a boutique retailer, even though it would be cheaper to purchase directly from the brand itself. Why? Because the boutique retailer takes the time to include product samples with my sensitive skin’s requirements in mind.
Customer loyalty step 2. Value your customer
In today’s global marketplace the level of competition is ever-increasing. Show customers you appreciate their custom before they take it elsewhere. Make them feel valued with: - VIP access to special late night shopping events; invitation only software betas
- Warranties and guarantees - nothing like a free replacement to say you value your customers
- Free top ups, customization/personalization, product servicing
- Responsive and accessible customer service that lets them get in touch the way they want to
Again, the beauty industry offers some great examples. Think free fringe trims in between haircuts (thanks to Headmasters UK) and free nail polish top ups between manicures/pedicures (Soap Treatment Stores, The Netherlands).
Customer loyalty step 3. Reward your customers
Your customers are on their way to becoming your most loyal fans and advocates. Throw in a reward and they’ll be singing your praises to their peers and on Twitter, choosing your store above all others. What reward? Consider: - Loyalty point schemes where amassed points can be redeemed for products
- VIP membership - who hasn’t wanted to sneak into an exclusive airport lounge?
- Free shipping for frequent customers
- Recognizing a customer’s birthday with a gift or promotional discount
Amazon Prime membership is a good example of rewarding loyal customers. Amazon customers do have to pay a membership fee for free delivery on every purchase, but in fact Amazon actually loses money on each membership. What Amazon loses in delivery costs, it recoups in repeat purchases. Make sure the extra patronage earned in the holiday period, continues into the new year.