Customer loyalty and retention are vital to small businesses, but many companies are still chasing new leads instead of nurturing existing relationships. This can be much more expensive.
When we talk about customer loyalty and retention, we're talking about how you turn a one-off purchaser into a long-term fan of your brand who comes back time and time again. For this to happen, your customer satisfaction ratings need to be the best they can be. The relationship between customer loyalty and retention is symbiotic: put your customers' needs first to command their loyalty and drive your business forward. Here are some tips to help you succeed.
1. Knowing Your Customer
How well do you know your customers? You could be sitting on a gold mine of valuable data which can teach you who they are, their consumption behavior and what drives their purchasing decisions. Knowing your customers and their interests allows you to tailor content to them, for a more personalized service and better chance of future sales as you align with their interests and goals. You can also find out what blocks your conversion rates, and how you can turn more inquiries into sales. If you don't know what you're doing when it comes to data analytics, consider hiring a marketer. It could be a sensible investment.
2. Thinking About Your Brand Values
US consumers increasingly want to spend their money only with those brands that match their values. The 2018 Global Consumer Pulse Research survey (a survey of 29,530 consumers in 35 countries by Accenture Research) found that 62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on issues like sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices. Conversely, 47% of consumers will stop doing business with companies when disappointed by their words or actions on issues like these, with 17% never returning. So the stance you take on social issues and the values you display could be crucial to customer loyalty and retention.
3. Putting Yourself in Their Shoes
The quality of your customer experience can make or break your business, so road-test it yourself to see exactly what your customer goes through on their journey with you. From the first contact through to making a purchase, to the updates they receive on their order to what happens if problems arise, how is your customer treated? Think about the quality of the communications you send out, and their frequency. How smoothly does your website function, is your order system easy to use, do you have a user-friendly app? Consumers won't hang around if your technology doesn't work well and it's difficult for them to make a purchase. A seamless service is key to customer loyalty and retention.
4. Being Honest
You're setting yourself up for failure if you over-promise and under-deliver. Whether that's meeting a project deadline or shipping an item in a certain amount of time, be honest and realistic about what you can do. Many customers will appreciate you communicating openly and managing their expectations rather than letting them down. Mistakes happen, it's how you deal with them that counts. Holding your hands up when things go wrong and doing your best to sort the problem should help ensure your customers return in the future.
5. Asking for Feedback
What do your highest-spending customers love about your brand? What could you do to improve it? Grow a thick skin and ask for honest feedback from your customers through surveys or polls, and through the general public via social media, then listen and implement the suggestions.
The quality of your customer experience can make or break your business, so road-test it yourself to see exactly what your customer goes through on their journey with you.
If people are spending more with your competitors, ask them what attracts them to those businesses and see what you can learn. Use testimonials, reviews or referral schemes to attract other customers through the power of 'social proof' (in other words, following the crowd).
6. Investing in Your Business
If you can, spend some money on your business. Upgrade your systems, invest in staff training, improve technology and security, and overhaul your marketing strategy to sharpen your brand. Analyze all the content you send out to see what impact it's really having on customer loyalty and retention, and whether it shows your company in the best light.
7. Rewards Schemes
Tempt customers to give you repeat business with a loyalty or rewards scheme. You could offer discounts or special offers for returning customers, freebies, sneak previews of new products and services, or even a gift on their birthday to reward customer loyalty and make them feel special. But make sure you promote the scheme properly so customers know it exists, and incentivize them to sign up.
Follow these tips and you too could get the 'sticky' customer base every business owner wants.
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