Customers aren't entirely sure what the future holds. The more predictable and reliable your business, the more certain customers may be of their relationship with you. Leveraging a desire for the familiar and comfortable presents a big opportunity for your company. Here are three ways to help deepen customer loyalty.
1. Start listening.
Ask your customers the tough questions—like what you could be doing better—and start acting on their answers. Whether you use high-tech social media monitoring and data analysis or low-tech methods like phone calls, you need to find out what they love (and hate) about your business.
For this kind of feedback to be truly effective, you must be ready to listen openly, respond quickly and react appropriately. Set expectations with customers so they know that not every problem will be solved right away, but be ready to start identifying where changes need to occur. Lastly, make sure you thank your customers for their feedback. Even though it might not feel like it, they're doing you a favor by telling you what you don't want to hear.
2. Commit to social media.
Social media is no longer a singular marketing channel. It's integrated into every aspect of your customers' lives. By now, most companies are committed to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, it seems like not many small businesses have actually figured out how to leverage each channel effectively.
Just posting on social media regularly isn't enough anymore. You must find out how to utilize social media networks in more authentic ways. That might mean integrating personalized deals into your social approach or building more personal relationships with your customers via these channels.
While the specific approach will be different for every business, every social strategy should mesh naturally with how your customers are living online. When it comes to social, the more authentic the strategy, the more effective it can be.
All businesses, no matter which industry they are in, need to integrate social fully into their marketing plan. It's time you were committed to social as seriously as your customers are.
3. Offer rewards.
Loyalty rewards are nothing new, but smaller businesses often have a difficult time deploying complicated customer rewards programs. The good news is that complicated doesn't necessarily mean more effective. Simple solutions (such as providing a free item for every 10 purchased or offering a standing discount for regular customers) can have a substantial impact on customer retention. Take time this year to figure out which rewards are most meaningful to your customers and how they can redeem them quickly and easily.
Some businesses fail to focus on customer retention, leading to time-consuming and costly efforts to find new customers. By carefully evaluating your existing customer needs, committing to consistent and ongoing interaction and rewarding them for their continued loyalty, business owners can help keep their customers engaged, and may also expand their business.