4 ways to win greater customer loyalty

Winning loyalty from customersDespite real potential value in their existing customer base, many businesses still prioritise new customer acquisition in their marketing and business development strategies. Sometimes the focus on new customers becomes all-consuming and done at the expense of nurturing customers already converted.

But with many competitive offerings around to tempt them, and if your customers start to feel remotely neglected, this can be a dangerous strategy.

It makes more commercial sense to protect customers, build their loyalty and expand the range of your offering they buy.  And in today’s purchasing journey, where social proof (reviews and testimonials) – heavily influence buying decisions, having happy customers and advocates can make or break whether new customers come your way.

So how can you foster greater loyalty within your customer base and how can you encourage customers to try other aspects of your business offering? Here are 4 practical ideas to run by your current approach…

 

1. Are you getting the basics right?

Drawing on the findings of many customer feedback surveys, when they buy something customers typically want these from the experience:

  • The quality is what they expected or better than expected. It’s certainly not a disappointment.
  • The purchase and delivery of the product or service is done efficiently and as promised – they certainly don’t want lengthy time delays, particularly unexpected ones.
  • Communication that keeps them informed at the key stages of the purchase/delivery process and in a way they’ve given consent to. Those communications should be clear, pleasant in tone and easy to understand.
  • Transparency of price – that clearly reflects the product/service quality they’re buying. Ideally, it is one that is fixed unless they make changes to their order. It is certainly not one that grows in cost without them knowing or consenting.

It is interesting how many businesses fall down on these basic elements. All the rants in forums, review sites and social media usually stem from one or more of these elements underperforming or causing disappointment.

Too often customers are overpromised by businesses keen to seem agreeable and secure the order. The business concerned is, in fact, setting itself up to fail and, whilst they may win this one piece of business, it’s unlikely they’ll get any more from the customer.  This applies as much to services as it does to product offerings.

We often train and coach businesses and their people on how to underpromise and overdeliver – take a look at the tips in this article as they will help you to really delight customers and gain their loyalty.

 

2. Make it personal

The more tailored and relevant your product/service feels to a customer and their situation, the more loyal they’ll become. We like buying from people who understand us and our preferences.

To achieve this sentiment from your customers you need to develop your knowledge of them. Consider what they buy from you, why they buy it, when they buy it and also what they don’t buy from you but could.

With this information think about ways to package up certain services/products (perhaps with one of the components they haven’t tried yet) to add greater value or help to them.

Be proactive like an oven cleaning company I use – they remind me how long it’s been since I used them and offer to book someone in. If seasonality affects your customers’ buying patterns, then put together diary reminders to get in touch. Create special offers or share information to help them with that particular time in their calendar.

 

3. Reward their loyalty

In sectors such as insurance and energy, it is often better to switch provider frequently, as the incentive to stay loyal is non-existent. There are bigger discounts to collect as a new customer. Those companies then have to work hard to keep replenishing their customer base. If they were able to instead reward loyalty, they may find their marketing and sales costs reduce and over time greater profitability is achieved.

It is worth thinking about how you can reward the loyalty of your customers. To help you calculate what reward you could afford, consider the current cost of customer acquisition to you (factor in your marketing, the time/effort in the sales process, the discounts needed to compete with other providers etc).

If you could incentivise your customers to stay loyal and bring new ones to you – how much would that cost of sale reduce by? What incentives could you offer which would be affordable and not adversely affect your profitability or fall foul of any criteria they have for accepting incentives?

Depending on your customers and your budget, there are different reward options you can consider. For example,

  • A % discount year on year
  • A free unit of a product range they buy, each year
  • A cap on your fees/cost for another year – or holding this year’s price.
  • Providing additional features/enhancements/ insight and information free of charge
  • A gift or small thank you token for referring other customers to them
  • Giving them discounts on new products they’ve not yet tried
  • Rounding down the cost of an order

Don’t forget to tell customers what reward you’re putting in place so they realise that you appreciate their custom. Do though be careful in your choice of reward – it has got to be perceived by your customer as worthwhile.

 

4. Some other ways to add value

You can add value to a customer in other ways and these include using their own products or services, helping them out in some way (say on a business or personal basis) and keeping them informed about relevant offers, additional ways to use the product or outcome from the service.

For example, a security firm we work with helped a local cricket club install CCTV on their clubhouse, not just for security, but to enable parents of the junior team to watch the game from the comfort of the club via a link up to its TVs.

If you want them to try a new aspect of your offering, consider sending them an example or ‘taster’. Pick your moment for this wisely and don’t continually try and ‘flog’ the customer something new at every point of contact. If you do they’ll soon migrate to another supplier.

Be guided by your knowledge of them to pick the right moment. Recording their purchasing patterns, interests and any other customer data you can collect will help to expand that understanding.

 

Summary

It’s hard work acquiring new customers so do see if there are ways to maximise the value from your existing fan base. Consider their preferences and nuances and play to these. Make customers feel you are the only supplier because of what you understand about them and demonstrate. The easier you make their lives and the more benefit you bring, the harder you will be to replace.

For more advice on enhancing your customer loyalty and building an amazing customer experience contact us or tel. 01483 429111.