For large or small businesses, customer loyalty is extremely vital. Studies have shown that returning customers spend over 65% more than first-time customers.
We’ve learned from research that it takes an average of seven exposures to your product or service to convince a possible customer to purchase from you. The time, effort and money it takes to get to that initial purchase is substantial. Repeating all that work each time a purchase is made is not reasonable.
A small business owners’ key goal is to develop customer loyalty. But how is that done? Here are five essential things to do to ensure that your customers are happy, loyal and wanting to spread the word to their friends to purchase from you.
1. Customer Service
Is outstanding customer service really worth all the effort?
It may seem obvious, but many business owners find this question difficult. Looking at a sales chart doesn’t give you a clear-cut idea of your service quality.
Consumers want to know that a business they buy from wants to make their experience a positive one. They want to know that your business is worth putting their trust in. Research indicates that customers today place a priority on receiving great service.
Some ways you can bump up your customer service might be:
- Be available and open to conversation.
- Use respectful dialogue, especially when a customer is being impatient.
- Do what you can to listen to a customer’s experience and make it right (if you can).
- Compete with your competitors by providing a level of service that they cannot match
You only get one chance per person to get customer service right, research says. Establish a plan and train your team in how to deal with misunderstandings, proper personal interactions, and mistakes before you get your first complaint.
2. Shared Values
The largest driver of brand loyalty is having shared values. Customers are more interested in marketing that resonates with their values and beliefs, not simply convenience. They want a service or product that compliments who they are at their core while filling their needs.
A CeB (Corporate execute Board) study that included 7,000 customers across this nation as well as Australia and the UK, showed that brand loyalty is nearly impossible to attain without values. 65% of customers who stated a strong brand relationship said that shared values was the main reason
This core value marketing does not have to be excessive, but it does need to be consistent and visible. For example, If your company uses recycled items as part of your production process, include these efforts in your marketing. Use recycled paper. Create a blog article about why the decision was made to use recycled products. Share in your marketing how it helps your company and produces a better product for your customers.
Consumers do not want to simply buy a product or service. They want to feel good about it while they do it. Ensure that your customers know that by purchasing your service or product, they are helping to conquer something evil in the world (hunger, poverty, waste, greed) with their hard earned money.
You may think this is overblown, yet the fact is, after all the compelling reasons you provide for purchasing your product or service, customers will still spend money based on their gut reaction. Offer them an opportunity to make life better for themselves and others.
3. Personalization and Perks
Getting applicable information before and after a customer makes a purchase can allow you to set up a personalized email on a birthday, offer a solution to a problem, or make recommendations for products they might find valuable.
Take the time to come up with creative ways to personalize your customer’s experience. This can be go a long way in helping to keep the customers you have worked so hard to get.
A very popular and effective tool is to offer a reward system to your most loyal customers. This can be based on how much or how often they purchase from you, or by signing up for a subscription of products. Rewards can include things like:
- Early access to new products
- Skipping the line
- Free samples
- Special percentage off purchases
- Bonus gift
When you set up a reward system for your most loyal customers, you are encouraging them to stick around while giving other customers an incentive to reach their status.
4. Don’t Rush
In a world where everyone is in a rush and busy, taking time to authentically serve your customers makes a statement that will be noticed. No one wants to feel like they are a just a drop in the ocean of customers, they want to feel that they are worth your time, and valuable enough to have their questions listened to.
One way to accomplish the perception of not being rushed, has nothing to do with time. Consumers feel de-valued when a business member is short-tempered or disgruntled with them. Train your team members how to show respect, act with kindness and keep their cool even in difficult situations. This can help in retaining your customers. When offering customer service, this is especially important. Take your time.
5. Ease of Use
Just off the heals of not rushing, customers often do want fast service. There are fast-food services, google searches on smart phones, music and movies on demand, videos easily streamed all in less time it takes to walk to your television.
Getting what they want as quick as possible is what customers have become accustomed to. They want to be able to find the service or product they are looking for, learn how much it costs, and get it with as little trouble as possible.
You help your customers with this by investing in good quality services and programs that speed up the searching and buying capacity of your online and physical business. This is an area you shouldn’t be cheap about.
If your customers have too many steps to go through in searching, finding, and buying your products or services, you are giving them chances for them to change their mind and buy elsewhere. Streamline your purchasing service and you’ll keep more customers.