The concept of customer loyalty is more complex than that of customer service, and one that is far more intriguing and interesting. Customer loyalty should be designed as a natural follow up to your customer acquisition program.
This article will explore the true meaning of customer loyalty, and list some actionable items that can be taken and used to improve customer loyalty.
How to define customer loyalty
Let’s start with the basics. The concept of customer loyalty is expressed in two words – customer, and loyalty.
- Customer - Do you know who your customers are? If you own or manage a small business, you should be able to know their names, needs, and interests in order to best serve them and their demographic.This is more difficult when it comes to an enterprise with hundreds or thousands of customers. It’s harder to know your customers’ personal identities, however, there are still ways to capture sufficient data that will allow you to treat your customers in a manner that will help preserve their loyalty.
- Loyalty - Loyalty can be defined as the support or feeling of duty towards a person or abstract object.
Customer loyalty is like a puzzle with interconnected pieces; each piece is represented by a word that represents a value, belief, attitude, or commitment which, depending on its absence or presence, can make the entire puzzle collapse into pieces. This is why customer loyalty is so different from customer service, and a complex challenge for businesses at all levels.
The following tips will outline how to recognise repeat customers, and methods for recognising their loyalty. In all of the tips mentioned, there is never any need for you cow tail to unreasonable customer demands. Define your interface points and interfaces, develop high class and consistentprocesses, and act on them consistently.
Customer loyalty and its place in marketing
According to Michael LeBoeuf Ph.D., author of How to Win Customers and Keep them for Life, 68% of customers are lost due to indifference. Indifferent customers are a result of pure neglect.
The marketplace in which we seek new customers, and attempt to retain existing ones, has changed quite dramatically. Technology such as smartphones has enabled people to find their own solutions to what they want and need.
In this marketplace, you should acknowledge survey results that claim it is roughly five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain the loyalty of an existing customer. This fact alone makes it essential to pay attention to customer loyalty and design processes, and incorporate value creation into every interface point to which you expose your customers.
As a closure to these theories, marketing entrepreneur Kevin Daum has developed a customer loyalty concept dubbed The Awesome Experience. This concept involves compelling messaging, intentional marketing, and memorable delivery:
Compelling messaging – This is the act of creating customer messages that include empathy, objectivity, and differentiation.
Intentional marketing – This is a style of marketing based on a defined sales process built with forethought, efficiency, and integration.
A memorable delivery – This is all about creating a lasting, positive impression in your customer’s mind. It should be good enough to motivate them to share their experience with others.
10 Tips for improving your customer loyalty
1. Your first action should be to place your customers at the centre of your daily routines. Everything else extends from there.
2. Ensure that you have implemented the 4 essential requirements that combine to provide a satisfactory customer experience, and maintain them:
- Build your product or service so that it performs to specifications,
- Implement a delivery process that guarantees customer satisfaction,
- Ensure your delivery schedule conforms to current market expectations, and
- Design and implement an effective problem resolution process.
3. Focus on creating service standards, communication standards, and customer interface standards that are superior to “general market expectations”. These would then build credibility and trust by incorporating consistency into service commitments, problem resolutions, and customer communication. Think about how you can be unique and differentiate your customer loyalty program from others.
4. If you are a self-managed business, present your face to your customers on social media channels. If you represent an enterprise organisation, design a recognisable brand logo. Enter information about your core values and your mission in business.
5. Find the social media sites on which your customers are most active. Establish your own presence on these sites, and endeavour to engage with your customer’s interests, but not to sell.
6. Use technology to identify your loyal customers. Record their preferences and likes, and offer these without them having to ask. Invite them to learn more about your business, and give them the opportunity to offer their friends discounts or special deals.
7. Record and remember special days like customers’ birthdays. Share information with them that you know will be of interest. This can include blog posts, articles, photos, opportunities, or special offers from like minded businesses.
8. Endeavour to become an authority in your market niche by building a site that becomes “the site to visit for the latest information”.
9. Gather as much information as you can about your regular customers. Record their names, location, their needs and interests, and basic demographic data. Use this information when communicating with them, and design interfaces that can incorporate and respond to their needs and interests.
10. Survey and measure customer loyalty, and use this information to enhance your customer loyalty program.
Focusing on customer loyalty as a principal business process may involve some hard work, thinking, and testing, but your efforts should be handsomely rewarded.