How to Increase Customer Loyalty
If you’re a business owner and not thinking about how to increase customer loyalty, you may be missing out on quite a few opportunities. Depending on the statistics you pull, it costs 5-10 times more to gain a new customer than retain a customer.
When I think customer loyalty, cable companies come to mind. Cable companies are great at getting new customers on board, often using sweet deals and contracts to get customers to stay for a fixed duration of time. Unfortunately, once the attractive pricing model which captured customers end, those customers scoot to the next best cable deal.
When it’s so expensive to recruit a new customer compared to retaining current customers, you’d think the telecommunication industry would switch gears.
So let’s talk about ways you can increase customer loyalty.
Value Your Customers
However you got started in business, you continue to remain a profitable business because of customers. Without customers, you’re really just running a hobby. As such, show customers you value their business. We’ll continue to use the telecommunication industry as an example. Though telecommunication companies are starting to look at new models, their past techniques to retain customers were to “trap” them into contracts, which had costly termination fees. When new deals came about, current customers were often not eligible, even if their contract had expired. As such, meaning customers jumped ship first chance they got.
Let’s examine that strategy for a bit. A new customer gets special deals, but a current (and potential loyal) customer was excluded from the same deals. It’s not exactly a model that says a business values customer business.
So, how do you show you value your customers?
Even a simple thank you goes a long way. Ever so often, I’ll have a company send me an email (my preferred method of communication), saying thank you for my patronage. My favorites are the ones that remember anniversary dates. “Did you know you’ve been with us 5 years now?” I may have forgotten, but they remembered, even if it’s an automated response.
Loyalty Programs & Coupons
You might even show appreciate through loyalty programs. I love loyalty programs. To me it says, “You’re a frequent shopper with us. Thank you. Let us take this off your bill.” Those are nice, but my favorite reward are targeted coupons. If you keep track of your customers’ purchases, a targeted coupon can be a great way to get them back in your store. Targeted coupons go something like this:
Customer purchases an item. Let’s say the latest Barbie doll. A little bit down the line, the matching Ken doll comes on the market. So, you send a note, reminding them of their Barbie doll purchase and let them know the matching Ken doll just arrived. You encourage them stop by and use the provided discount coupon to pick up their Ken doll.
Targeted coupons are beneficial in several ways. 1) It shows you notice and care about their spending habits. It’s almost like a personal touch. 2) It creates a sales opportunities for you. Woohoo! 3) It gets them back in your store, possibly looking for new purchase. 4) It may encourage them to spend more, as they know you’ll be looking for coupon opportunities for them.
Offer Quality Service
I feel like this goes without saying. However, receiving less than par service seems to be the norm in a lot of industries. In many cases, customers continue to shop with companies because their choices for a particular item are limited to availability. Living in a small community, I see it often. A new company offering the same or similar product can put a established company out of business, simply by providing better service.
As I mentioned time and again, having the lowest price in town, shouldn’t be what set you apart. Yes, some customers may shop with you for your prices. However, even more will pay more money to your competitors if the shopping experience is better.
Listen to Customers
I mentioned customer surveys in a past post. Surveying your customers is more than just getting their responses. You also need to do something with those responses to show you actually recognize their feedback. It might even be a follow-up survey. “We noticed in the last survey we sent that you were unhappy with the way we display our products. Will you please elaborate?”
You might even take the opportunity to sell them a product or service. “In the survey we sent out, you mentioned wanting to have more color variety of Product X. Great news! We talked to our suppliers and offer a variety of colors for Product X. We’d love for you to stop by and check out our new selection. We can even custom order for you.”
Your customer feedback may come in the form of an unsolicited complaint. Listen and acknowledge their complaints. Then do what you can to remedy the situation.
Instill a Customer-Driven Attitude
You may not always be around to attend your customers personally. As such, you’ll want to have the right people in the right positions, as they will be the face of your company. Ensure your employees know the importance of superior customer service and are able to deliver. Don’t assume your employees will deliver great service because customers are needed to keep the company running. You may need to take time to train your employees so everyone can perform at the desired expectations.
As I mentioned, it’s a lot less expensive to keep a customer than to gain a new customer. It brings to mind a training event I attended on pitching a product or service. One of the entrepreneurs at the event had a donut shop. He mentioned it cost him about $25 to gain a new customer. 25 bucks! To me, that’s insane when you think about the cost of a donut. $25 takes quite a few return visits to see a return on your investment. So yes, seek customers, but definitely work on keeping the customers you do gain.
What methods do you employ to increase customer loyalty?