When you hear the words “customer loyalty,” it’s possible that you think first about loyalty programs that are more hassle than they’re worth, like the free coffee punch card you always lose immediately after it’s handed to you. But loyalty programs, when executed correctly, are still a highly effective means of developing repeat customers. In fact, businesses with strong loyalty marketing programs reportedly grow 2.5 times faster than their competitors. Knowing this, it’s tempting to jump in headfirst and try to adapt a customer loyalty program that worked for someone else to your needs. Before you do, consider these customer loyalty building blocks.
It might seem like common sense, but make sure that you know your business. Identify your target audiences, competitors, and the core characteristics that make your business unique. Once you have these laid out, you can write a brand messaging strategy that speaks to who you are, what you offer, and why what you do is important to you and by extension, to your customers.
Pinpoint Customer Values
Your program can be based on monetary rewards, or not. Whichever way you go, there are plenty of ways to inspire a customer to stick with you by tapping into what they find valuable or important. Maybe it’s your affiliation with a certain charity, or perhaps it’s a point system that allows them to work toward a purchase or a tempting discount. Whatever your loyalty program entails, make sure that the reward is attainable and useful and that you communicate the program’s benefits clearly and often.
Focus on Customer Service
In a time when people have more choices than ever, it’s the well-executed details that keep a customer coming back. Customers appreciate a seamless process in all areas, from your adept handling of a customer service question on social media to a pleasant and smooth experience on your website. No matter where you meet your customers, focus on being proactive and helpful, and never pass up an opportunity to make it clear how much they matter to you.
Harness Customer Reviews
Take advantage of positive testimonials. They’re one of the most powerful tools you have in the race to win more customers. Success stories from satisfied customers build valuable credibility for your brand, as potential customers are more likely to be influenced by their peers’ feedback than they are to be swayed by your sales pitch. As for negative feedback, you’re likely to encounter it eventually. Don’t sweat it, but don’t ignore it either. If you’re receptive, your bad reviews could be some of the most useful critiques your business ever receives.
No matter what kind of feedback you’re getting, remember that everything is a conversation, especially where customer-facing platforms like social media, Yelp, and Google are concerned. Reply in a timely and courteous manner to demonstrate that what your customers think is important to you.
Build a Useful Community
Creating content that resonates with your audience isn’t just about delighting your followers; it’s also about creating a space in which they can have conversations with you and with each other. Share content that is helpful, educational, and relevant to your industry. Depending on your products or services, Facebook groups and other forums can be excellent ways to give your customers space to take the lead as your customer base grows.
Customer loyalty is an ongoing relationship between a customer and a business. Built intentionally, it can not only increase customer lifetime values, but it can also help illuminate and strengthen the most unique and admirable attributes of your business.
It costs you five times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain current customers.
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