It’s been a while since I approached the topic of customer loyalty. All of the tips, ideas, tactics, and techniques I write about are about driving a better customer service experience, which can (and hopefully will) lead to customer loyalty. The concept of repeat business, and ultimately customer loyalty is huge. A small increase in loyalty, just as little as one or two percent, can have a dramatic positive impact to your top and bottom line numbers. So, with that in mind, here are five ideas, a few of them revisited from the past, as well as some new ones, that will help you create that coveted loyal customer.
- Don’t Confuse a Loyalty Program with a Marketing Program: The first thing that pops into my head when I’m asked about loyalty program is the mistake that many companies make when designing a loyalty program. Some companies think they have a loyalty program, but it is actually a marketing program, and there’s a big difference. If when you take away the perks and the rewards, you may lose the customer, then what you really have is a marketing program. The best companies have loyal customers because of the overall experience, not the perks and rewards.
- Create an Emotional Connection: There is a big difference between satisfied customers and loyal customers. Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. Find out a way to connect with your customers. Make them feel special. Thank them for their business. Treat them like they want to be treated.
- Personalization and Customization: The concept of the personalized experience is a hot topic these days. With all of the data we are able to gather on individual customers, there is no reason we can’t give a customer a personalized and tailored experience.
- Create Confidence: The old saying goes that people want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. The knowing and liking is easy. The trust is the hard part. Earn the customer’s trust by creating a consistent and predictable above average experience – all of the time. Customers want to know what to expect. No surprises. Consistency is key. When they trust you, they will continue to do business with you.
- Break Down Customer Loyalty into Bite-Size Chunks: Most people think customer loyalty is about a lifetime. Well, it’s not. The goal is about a lifetime, and a lifetime is a long time. How do we get a customer to be loyal to us for a lifetime? That’s huge. Let’s make it easier. Rather than a lifetime, focus on the next time. Every time. So, ask yourself what I call the Customer Loyalty Question: What are you doing right now to make sure the customer will come back the next time he or she needs what I sell? Think next time, every time, and it just may turn into a lifetime.
To wrap this up, the value of customer loyalty is obvious. Loyal customers not only do more business with the companies they are loyal to, they will also spend more each time they do business. And, when they are loyal, they talk. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best marketing there is. Combine the value of the lifetime customer with the value of their recommendations and the payoff to your customer service and experience efforts are huge.