Building customer loyalty is hard, but it is one of the most important things for your business. As I discussed in my video on how you can increase customer loyalty, it can cost nearly seven times more to acquire new customers than to keep existing customers.
There’s a lot of information around the web on how you can build customer loyalty and retain more customers, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ve combined the best 18 strategies from five recognized authorities in the space, and popped them all into a simple, single post for you.
These customer loyalty strategies have been taken from writers at Entrepreneur.com, Jessica Malnik over at the BigCommerce blog, Mark Sunshine; Forbes.com contributor, Jessica Nash, and editors over at Inc.com.
Watch the video:
1. Let customers know what you are doing for them
This can be done via a quick informal phone call or a friendly email newsletter – either way, you want to subtlety let your customers know about all the work you have been doing for them. For example, you may have spent part of your weekend fixing up a few problems for a customer – you can hint about this when you follow up the next week. It’s important to realize you are not being cocky here; you are simple letting them know you value their business and are willing to go the extra mile for them.
2. Write a personal letter
For long time clients, get personal. Tell them you value there business. Send them a letter like this. “I was grabbing a coffee the other day and your name popped into my head. How has business been for you? Are you on track to hit your targets this year?” Be genuinely interested in their business and life, be personal.
3. Remember special occasions
Send regular customers birthday cards and holiday cards. Try not to be boring (like all the other companies). If you can make these special cards/gifts unique in your own way, that will go a long way to building customer loyalty. Use your creatively and find a way to tie the gift ideas into your business, the customers’ business or his/her personal life.
4. Pass on information
If you read an article, see a new book, or hear about an organization that a customer might be interested in, drop a note or make a quick call to let them know.
5. Follow up calls with customers are business development opportunities
When you talk to your customers, they’ll probably have referrals to give you. Make sure you take an open approach to every contact you have with each of your customer, you never know what new business you can get out of it.
6. Go to where you customers hang out
If you want to create customer evangelists, you need to hang out where they already are. If they’re on Facebook, or Pinterest – jump on there and engage them. If they are on a wildly popular body building forum, start contributing discussions on there.
7. Strive to empower and educate your customers
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
Become your customers go to adviser on all things relating to your industry. For instance, if you’re in IT, be their IT Guy. Help them with choosing the best mobile plan, let them know about upcoming compliance regulations. Go the extra mile.
8. Invest in a self-service channel
Create a knowledge-base or FAQ section of the common questions and problems that your customers encounter. Direct customers to specific answers – this will save you from answering the same question 100 times, plus it will give your customer a solid response to their problem.
9. Make customer retention a priority
This may seem pretty obvious, but I’m serious. Make a commitment to put customer retention at the top of the list. If you spent as much time building customer loyalty and retaining customers, as you did acquiring new customers, you’d have the world’s best advocates and a 100% retention rate!
10. Owners must lead from the front
Let’s face it; everyone loves dealing with the business owner. There’s something about dealing with the face of a company, the number one man, the boss in charge. As the business owner or CEO, you should be the one engaging existing customers and building customer loyalty. Make this your priority and not anyone else’s.
11. Understand the true purpose of marketing
Effective marketing is about building trust and developing relationships. Too many times people think marketing is just push a bunch of ads and they will come. Well, it’s not that easy. Tom Asacker, marketing author, explains the purpose of marketing it to ‘create and maintain a strong feeling with customers so they are mentally predisposed to continually choose and recommend you’. Building customer loyalty is about building trust and developing relationships – you see how it’s all interlinked?
12. Tap into what your customers want
By understanding what you customers actually want, you can build relationships that are memorable and set you apart from the competition. Focus on understanding each of your customers on an individual level and find out what really makes them tick, and why they like doing business with you.
13. Focus on integrity, which leads to trust and loyalty
Integrity involves fundamental behaviors such as keeping your word, being honest, providing a consistent level of service, and being reliable. Businesses that demonstrate a high degree of integrity are seen as trustworthy.
Building trust requires businesses to continually put customer’s interests ahead of their own. Customers will see this, and you will earn their trust and go a great distance to building customer loyalty.
14. Never take loyalty for granted
A successful marketing strategy will bring customers through the door, but only a successful customer loyalty and retention plan will keep them coming back for more. Never take customer loyalty for granted.
15. Create enlightening experiences
A successful business is about more than just selling stuff. It’s about selling experiences. Chris Zane of Zane Cycles knows this all too well. He focuses on making his customers feel good, and does this by not charging for every add-on, and now gives away free drinks at his in-store coffee bar. His customers walk away with an experience, an experience that will keep them coming back for more, and telling their friends about. This will go a long way to building customer loyalty.
16. When you do wrong, make it right
Resolving customer complaints is the best way to build customer loyalty. By handling complaints in a professional manner, you earn the opportunity to fix the problem and regain customer trust. In doing so, you engage your customer on an emotional level. Providing you resolve the problem, you customer now has a very unique experience with you, and you have shown first hand your willingness to recognize the problem and go out your way to ensure it is fixed and won’t happen again. Customers love this.
17. Quantify Customers’ Love
Talk to your customers, ask for their opinion on your service. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, a simple customer satisfaction survey will do the trick. I talk more how to measure customer loyalty in this 3 step guide to measuring customer loyalty. To improve survey response rates, I like to tell my customers that I will make a small donation for each survey completed. Even better, I recommend Client Heartbeat – this tool can get you up to 65% survey response rates.
18. Build a loyalty program
Whether you want to use old school punch cards or new mobile apps, a loyalty program can go a long way to keeping your customers coming back. These programs are a great way to engage your customers, build a relationship and drive repeat business.
There it is… 18 strategies and tips you can use to start building customer loyalty. Apply these today to start retaining more customers and growing your business.
Ross’ other popular posts on customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customer retention:
- How to set and meet customer expectations
- 9 Customer Retention Strategies for companies
- 3 ways to measure Customer Satisfaction