Getting new customers is great, but it’s not enough for businesses that want to really thrive. You need to retain those customers, ideally for life. Not only do loyal customers return to you again and again — but they also spend more per purchase and send other prospects your way. Additionally, keeping existing customers costs your company less than attracting new ones.
You may be thinking, “I already have a marketing plan and a loyalty program. Isn’t that enough?” The answer is no but, just as you created strategies to gain customers, you can develop a plan to keep them coming back. You may need to hire web developers, custom software developers (see https://www.bairesdev.com/expertise/custom-software-development/), or other professionals to tweak your online presence, but these investments will be well worthwhile. Here are some more tips to get you started.
How to Build Customer Loyalty?
The key to encouraging long-term loyalty is making customers feel valued. One of the best ways to do it is to personalize interactions with them. If your company is large, you likely won’t get to know each person personally, but there are other ways to ensure they get a unique experience. For example:
- Ensure all correspondence addresses them by name and not just a generic identifier like “customer” or “valued client.”
- Track their ordering history and make suggestions based on past activity. If you use an algorithm to do this, make sure it works well. Suggestions that are consistently off-the-mark are just annoying.
- Whatever you think your customers expect of you, do something even better. For example, if they want low-cost three-day shipping, offer free two-day shipping instead.
- Give customers options for how they interact with you, such as how often they receive correspondence, their preferred billing methods, or what kinds of products they want to see in-store or online.
Use Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are an extension of personalized service. Create a way for customers to get rewarded based on their level of activity with you. Here’s a brief plan for setting it up:
- Define loyalty. Determine what you’ll reward customers for. It could be spending a certain amount, visiting your store a set number of times, sharing your content on social media, or referring others to you. You could even set up separate programs for different actions.
- Determine tiers. Figure out, for example, what constitutes a silver, gold, or bronze member. It could be based on any of the criteria listed in #1. Clearly communicate with customers what they must do to achieve each level and what rewards (such as discounts or free products or services) come with each one.
- Announce the program at every opportunity. Set up a landing page to sign up and promote it on your website home page, on shopping pages, in order confirmations and other emailed communications, and in social media posts.
Turn Challenges into Opportunities
Some customers will inevitably be unhappy with aspects of your business. But don’t look at these situations as something to be feared. Instead, turn them into opportunities to increase customer loyalty. Offer customers the opportunity to give you feedback, including negative comments. Of course, you should have a customer care center that people can call when they have problems with a product or service.
You can also ask for feedback on your website, through email correspondence, using a survey tool like SurveyMonkey, and social media. Think of their remarks as insights into where your process could improve, and track the comments to learn where the greatest pain points are. Armed with this information, resolve to address those areas of your business.
Meanwhile, do everything you can to make a wrong situation right and quickly let customers know of proposed improvements. For example, if customers frequently complain about late deliveries, maybe it’s time to look into a new delivery vendor. Until you get the situation fixed, give customers gift cards and sincere apologies, letting them know you’re taking active measures to ensure their deliveries are always on time.
Keep in Touch
Think of customer relationships as friendships you need to nurture with frequent contact. You can send a regular newsletter, provide personalized recommendations, give gifts, invite participation on social media, or ask them to post photos of themselves using your products on your website. These are just a few ideas. Be creative and do something specific to your business.
These interactions not only help you maintain a close relationship with customers, but they also serve as a foundation for communicating when things don’t go well. For example, say one of your products gets recalled or gets negative press for another reason. Now’s the time to be even more communicative, not less. Reach out through your established channels to let customers know what’s going on, how it impacts them, and what you’re doing to remedy the situation.
New customers are essential for business success, but you need loyal customers that stick with you over time to sustain your company. You should continue your marketing efforts to attract business and, if you haven’t done so already, you should build a program designed specifically for retention. Your customers and your bottom line will thank you!