Obtaining Customer Loyalty: Detailed Guide on How to Charm Your Customers into a Long-term Relationship
Customer loyalty is the biggest investment factor that a brand should focus on. If your customer is happy, he or she is a returning customer and a returning customer multiplies your profit ratios exponentially.
The formula is quite simple, but the process of building customer loyalty is the hardest part.
In modern times, it isn’t enough to welcome your customer with a smile or to throw plenty of discounts around to appease them. Every brand is doing it and the customer sees nothing new to be loyal to your brand.
Hence, by reading this guide, you’ll understand the various ways on how you can attract your customers without losing them to a fellow competitor.
WHY CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS THE #1 THING FOR ANY BUSINESS
Let’s say you enjoy fishing at your nearby lake and when you arrive there, you find that the lake is crowded by other fishermen trying to bait fish. The chance of you catching fish has been reduced drastically and that’s because everyone is fishing at the same lake instead of finding their own fishing spot.
The lake represents the tried and used advertising approach, the fishermen are obviously brands trying to reel in their customers.
Finding customer loyalty is like fishing except don’t try to bait your customers, as your customers are actual humans with a valid thinking mind of their own. If they find out that you’ve been sugarcoating your product, that’s one less customer that permanently rejects your brand.
Here’s an example to demonstrate why customer loyalty is such an important factor to branding.
Let’s say you’re an apple vendor with 3 crates of apples. Each crate contains 10 apples and you end up selling 20 apples on any given day and you throw out the remaining 10 rotten apples. Now, your neighbor decides to set up shop next to you with exactly 3 crates of 10 apples each. He also manages to sell only 20 apples a day but instead of throwing out the remaining 10 apples, he comes up with a great idea.
He decides to give his customers a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” offer. Undoubtedly, your sales will begin to dwindle, and your neighbor will dispose of all 30 apples on any given day, but he also receives something valuable in return — Customer Loyalty!
His customers will always return to him to get the incredible discount of buying 3 apples at the price of 2. They will also spread the word to their loved ones about why they should buy their apples from him. In the end, he can decide to remove the discount and he’ll still have the loyalty of his customers due to the freshness of his apples and by the promise of future discounts.
Customer Loyalty Programs: What are they and do they work?
Customer loyalty programs are a form of tactics employed by businesses to secure returning customers by offering additional discounts, exclusive merchandise, and flash sales. Basically, the brand throws a spotlight on you to make you special and the star of their brand.
Most customer loyalty programs are usually accessed by a membership card that is either a lifetime card or is renewable at a given period.
A customer loyalty program seeks to understand the buying pattern of the customers. So, let’s say you’ve been buying a lot of video games from eBay, then you receive monthly and weekly newsletters catered around video game discounts.
In this way, the brand profits by creating a selective product list catered around the customer to increase sales and the customer benefits by receiving jaw breaking discounts to stay loyal to the company.
A report by the Australian Graduate School of Management suggests that not all loyalty programs work in securing customers. Loyalty programs with discounts and long-term customer value are among the real winners. The remaining loyalty programs with gift coupons scoreless among customers.
The reason for this is because customers don’t really care about something in the future that they can’t foresee, they prefer a discount today. They’d rather accept a discount of 10% on a television today, rather than taking a discount coupon of 40% for a television that releases the next month.
The report states that long-term customer value is among the most valuable factor for customers. If a brand recognizes an old customer and provides specially catered products for them or provides them with a lifetime discount, then customers are bound to choose the brand over others.
A brand should also reward shoppers that buy the most in any given period to ensure they feel special. Throw in a prize of a luxurious trip to an exotic location and in the long run, the shopper will remain loyal to your brand.
To help you out, here’s a checklist to consider when launching your customer loyalty program.
Customer Loyalty Program Checklist
- Determine the type of audience you’d like to attract
- Have a specific goal every month. (E.g. 10-15% increase in customer sales)
- Automate customer loyalty programs. (E.g. Applications such as LevelUp & Belly)
- Compare your customer loyalty program with your competitors
- Engage your audience on social media platforms
- Reward the top shoppers of your brand every month with travel vouchers or free gifts
- Throw in complimentary gifts from time to time to reward new shoppers
- Reach out to your customers by email to notify them of new offers on their customer loyalty program
- Long-term customers should be rewarded with frequent discounts
- Create tier-based loyalty programs. (E.g. Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, etc.)
- Surprise all members of your customer loyalty programs on their special occasions (Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc.)
- Don’t wait too long to reward your customers
- Optimize and monitor your program continuously
Customers Build Positive Brand Awareness
If your brand connects with your customer with great products and exceptional after sales service, your customer will be the one handing over the free business to your brand.
This type of advertising is often the best advertising as it’s completely unbiased and is based on the feedback from your customers to their friends and family. Convert biased advertising into unbiased advertising using the simple formula below.
Brand Advertising -> Lead Generation -> Customer Acquired -> Customers Enjoys Product -> Customer refers product -> Brand gets free unbiased advertising
Here are ways to get customers to be advertisers for your company.
Therefore, it’s so important to have a post-sales feedback form and have your customers write a testimonial for your site. Offer a small freebie to your customers in return for their time in writing a 200-word testimonial. Freebies such as extended warranty period or free deliveries for the next 3 orders or even a free product that you launched.
Remember every positive customer testimonial should also be posted on review websites such as — Yahoo Local Listings, Yelp, and Google Places for Business. Customers don’t read reviews from your website to decide, hence, they usually search your business on a popular review site and compare user testimonials to see how your product has been received.
Why do referral programs work so well in the market?
If your friend were to request you to walk down the street and pick up a chocolate bar for him, would you do it? Many of us would refuse while citing a lack of time or that they should get it themselves.
Now if your friend were to provide you with an incentive such as splitting half the chocolate bar with you, the deal would be irresistible.
Referral programs work on the same basis —You bring the company business through referring family and friends. The company then rewards you with various perks and added discounts.
We all love freebies and getting things at a discount, so we automatically spread the word for a brand as it takes just a few minutes of vouching for a good word for the brand.
Now referral programs come in mostly 3 ways —
1. Customer Referral
This is the most common type of referral. Every time you open an app or website, you’ll have a referral section located. Clicking this takes you to a page with a list of rewards for each tier of referral you achieve. Here’s a sample.
- Bring in 10 customers — Experience 10% discount on all products for a month
- Bring in 100 customers — Enjoy 15% discount on all products for a year
- Bring in 1000 customers — Lifetime discount of 10% discount on all products
Customer referral programs are meant for shoppers to have a convenient way to send out a referral message. Always ensure the referral program has access to all the popular social media plugins for the customers’ convenience. Customers don’t like it when they must spend 2-3 minutes tinkering around to send the referral out and will generally feel it’s not worth their time.
2. Affiliate Strategy
When customers want to truly represent a brand and take things forward with an actual partnership. Affiliate marketing is the best way forward.
Affiliate marketing is different from customer referrals since the customer enjoys a portion of the profits of the sales they make.
Most customers tend to write detailed product reviews to alert other customers on the usefulness of your product and refer them back to your site for a possible sale.
Example. As an affiliate marketer, if you convince 10 people to buy a smartwatch priced at $1500, the brand will pay you a portion of the sale to you. In this case, let’s assume you make 10% from the watch. That’s $150 per smartwatch, so you effectively made back $1500 for selling to 10 people as affiliate revenue.
Always provide a good percentage in the range of 10%-25% on a product. Every review that is written for your product will attract a host of customers if the reviewer is popular. You must make it worth their time to write a detailed review of your product.
3. Influencer Marketing
This type of referral method is new, and customers tend to influence an item via a video guide. Simply target a loyal customer who has a YouTube channel or is known to attract a lot of customers through their own brand. Schedule a discussion and ask them if they would be interested in influencing your product for an endorsement amount. If interested, the customer can utilize your products during their own showcase reel.
Here’s an example. Imagine a well-known YouTuber is doing cooking videos and enjoys using your products. Get in touch with them and ask them to endorse your range of cooking products such as butter, cream, milk, and other products during the video. Every time there is a few seconds of screen time of your products, your product is being actively advertised without your own actions.
However, the product should come out as natural as possible. Hence, only choose popular shoppers that have bought your item out of their own interest. Don’t go around hunting for people to endorse your brand. This becomes paid advertising and comes under biased advertising.
Now that we understand how important customer branding is to your business and why unbiased advertising is crucial to building a loyal customer base. Let’s learn how to maintain this critical relationship with your customers.
8 RULES FOR GAINING A LOYAL CUSTOMER BASE FOR LIFE
They say loyal customers are the golden ducks to any business. Not only do they provide the annual sales, but they also spread the word like fire around town if they trust your brand. A single loyal customer is equal to 100 casual shoppers. Here’s why:
- A loyal customer will always consider your brand as their first choice when shopping for a product
- Loyal customers will always actively take part in your marketing campaigns and check in for latest product launches
- Loyal customers will always buy your latest products even if there aren’t any reviews on the product as they trust your brand
- Loyal customers also tend to leave a positive overall impact on your business by bringing in other customers who have the potential to become loyal customers
- Loyal customers also stand by your product during times of negative publicity
So, let’s learn how to keep converting a normal customer into a loyal customer for life. And maintain a loyal customer without losing them.
1. Be honest even if it means no profit for the business
The rabbit is out of the box. Modern customers aren’t foolish and with the digital age as their weapon, it’s quite easy to weed out the lies that you’ve been feeding them.
Don’t promote your brand or products based on falsifying information.
For example — If you’re trying to sell a potato peeler, don’t market it as an all-in-one vegetable peeler. If your customer finds out that your potato peeler doesn’t work on other vegetables. They’ll never trust your brand ever again and will warn their friends and family to stay clear of a deceiving brand. In this way, you’ve just lost your primary customer + potential customers that could have bought from you in the future.
Your brand’s authenticity should be clear and consistent. Don’t just deliver one outstanding product and a string of failures. Consistency is the key. Your customer should expect the same level of exceptional quality that they did since the first year of buying your products.
In fact, very few companies are upfront with their customers about the drawbacks of their product. Here’s are some points to note on how to win your customers loyalty by being honest with your product.
- Many businesses don’t provide a disadvantage column to their products and only list the best points. Add a drawback column and your customers will trust you for being open about it.
- Don’t add hidden fees during checkout. Make sure to provide clear prices including tax and other delivery information.
- It’s okay to charge a delivery fee but be transparent about it from the beginning. Customers don’t like to know they enjoy free delivering only to be thrown a surprise fee at the checkout counter
- Make a great product and price it well. In the long run, a costly product will be accepted by your customers compared to a cheap product that is priced at half the rate and breaks just as easily.
- One of the best ways to be honest with your product is to provide excellent after-sales service. Customers love a company that backs their products with a smooth system that accepts product returns without hassles
- Always provide a 14-day money back guarantee for your products, in case your customer doesn’t like the item
- Always electronically test your products before you ship them. You don’t want a string of refurbished items lying in your warehouse.
All the above points refer to a company that is honest to the cause. Obviously, you’re in the business to make profits, the customer already understands this. All they seek is transparency from the company, the more information and clear your product and brand is, the better the chance you’ll convert loyal customers for life using the honest approach.
2. Keep in Touch with Your Customers
As discussed earlier, loyalty programs are a great way to incentivize your customers and understand their likes and dislikes through their product purchase history.
Always have an active interest with your customers and provide them a catered list of products via weekly newsletters or through social media campaigns.
Building customer loyalty takes time and once you’ve remained in touch with your customers. You’ll surely win their appreciation in time.
Here are 5 proven ways you can stay in touch with your customers.
1. Email newsletters
Email newsletters are a non-intrusive way to stay in touch with your customers and update them on your products and blogs. It’s necessary to not spam customers with random articles that aren’t targeted towards their purchasing trends. For example, if a customer has bought 10 t-shirts and 5 jeans in the past year, it’s best to send newsletters targeted towards upcoming clothing sales and other fashion promotional schemes.
2. Birthday wishes
A birthday is a special day for your customers. Knowing a company cares enough to remember their special day is enough reason to remain loyal to your brand. Send them a discount coupon or a gift by mail. A simple automated greeting is all it takes to win their hearts. If you want to go the distance, you can even send personalized greetings cards over to their homes.
Here are a host of ways to send birthday greetings to your customers —
- Provide a special sale of products for your customer based on their shopping history
- Virtual gifts such as e-books, webinars, or calendars are great ways to wish your customers
- Hold a special raffle contest for customers with birthdays on the same day
- Donate to charity and then refer them to the link to show them your appreciation
- For the top 10 shoppers, have a team from your office send a video with personalized greetings
3. Product Sneak Peek
Customers love a company that offers sneak peeks to their most loyal customers. To make them feel special, send them a special offer via any of these following methods —
- Utilize Instagram stories to show the picture of your latest product, don’t reveal it fully
- Write an ambiguous Facebook post claiming about a product that is being launched. Try not to spoil the surprise and keep the descriptions to yourself
- Post a tweet on twitter about the product launch
Social media is the best way to demonstrate sneak peeks as you’ll have many loyal fans that are subscribed to your brand’s product page. A single tweet, post, or image will reach out to millions and they will be able to share their excitement with their friends and family by sharing it.
4. Making recommendations
Customers will need help from you when making purchases. Hence, to keep a loyal customer around, you’ll need to understand their taste buds by analyzing their buying patterns and constantly providing them with recommendations.
Some examples are —
If a customer is looking to buy a TV, give them a listed recommendation of everything that would go well with a TV such as an HDMI port cable, a wireless remote, Amazon’s firestick, Google Chromecast, etc. This way the customer will feel the need to pick up another product along with the television and will be able to provide positive feedback thanks to your timely recommendation.
Another way to recommend is to send an email to your customer after a few weeks have passed since a purchase. In this email, provide information on the latest products that complement the purchased product or are going to be launched. Customers will enjoy receiving dedicated product advertisements related to their purchased items.
5. Quick response for support queries
Finally, when a customer isn’t satisfied with your product, they’ll usually be trying to get in touch with your support section. It’s your duty to ensure the customer receives the help in the timeframe that you’ve promised.
After the resolution, it’s necessary to stay in touch with your customer by sending a feedback form asking them to rate the resolution as well as the product’s functionality.
This allows you to assess how likely the customer is going to buy from your brand and if they are willing to give your brand a chance in the future? If your customers are satisfied the chances are that they will be returning customers and by staying in touch with them, they’ll surely turn into long-lasting loyal customers.
Here are a few pointers to follow —
- A timeframe for support should be kept between 24 to 48 hours. Any longer than 48 hours and your customer will be dissatisfied with your brand
- If providing after-sales service through chatbots, follow-up with the customers with a phone call and ask how satisfied they were with the automated service system
- Provide as many options as possible for support such as an easy to reach helpline number, a 24/7 online chat system, an email system with an automated response mail providing the time and complaint no, etc.
3. Exceed Their Expectations
Ask yourself this important question —What makes Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and other multi-million-dollar companies so successful? While the short answer is a “brand image”, the long answer demonstrates that to build a brand image, you’ll first need to woo the customer and build a solid loyal customer base that trusts and respects your brand.
If you can successful surprise your customers by exceeding their expectations, you’ll reap success. To meet customers’ expectations is something a lot of companies can achieve, to go beyond and shock the customers with their products — now that’s a challenge only a few companies are capable of and that’s how the above-listed companies have built their brand.
If you’re looking to exceed customer’s expectations of your product, here are some ways to do it.
1. Collecting Feedback
How much do you know about your customer’s satisfaction rate?
How would you know if your support staff is treating your customers in a respected manner?
How would you possibly know if your customers even like your products?
Customer feedback is one of the best methods to directly know what your customers are thinking behind your product. Provide a rating slider from 0-to-10 and ask them to rate their answers between this scale. Here is a set of questions created for you to give you an idea.
- How likely are you to purchase from us again?
- How likely are you to recommend us to your family and friends based on your current experience?
- How smooth was the checkout process?
- Were you happy with our range of products?
- How likely are you to use our app/website for future purchases?
- If you’ve experienced our support section previously, how was the experience like?
- How quickly was the resolution process initiated by our support team?
- How well did our product serve your purpose?
- As far as value for money is concerned, how would you rate our products?
- How easy is it to navigate through our products?
- How detailed was the information provided on the product’s description?
2. Initiate the best training program for your employees
Treating your customers in a respectful manner is something every employee from the bottom ranks to the top should know in your company. Hence, to begin attracting loyal customers, start by training your staff with an impactful training program that’ll affect the way they converse, explain the problem, and finally, resolve an outstanding issue.
When your employees are well-mannered and respectful, the result is automatically shown by your customers providing positive feedback and recommending your company to their peers. Now imagine, if a customer call representative were to talk rudely to a customer? The customer would stop buying from your company and worse, if they decide to make the recording public, the whole world will know the type of customer support service that is being run by your company and this will add to negative publicity.
In order, to gain the trust of your customers, always start with your internal staff and empower them with your leadership aura.
3. Focus on your customer’s needs
Give your customers what they want. Don’t try to impress them in areas that aren’t relevant to their purchasing experience. If a customer is interested in purchasing your table knives, ensure your knives are sharp and can cut through meat and vegetables in an efficient manner. Don’t bother wasting time in spending time in designing the packaging when the product itself is lacking.
Focus on the statistics to give you an update on the way customers analyze their trends. Here are 15 statistics, sourced by V12 DATA.
- About 41% of online shoppers will always search for a testimonial before making a purchase.
- 75% of customers prefer buying from retailers or brands that they recognize
- 53% of buyers rely on Facebook to make their buying decisions
- 61% of customers abandon their checkout carts due to hidden costs being revealed during checkout (delivery fees, tax charges, convenience charges, etc.)
- 59% of e-commerce shopping is done on mobile phones
- 61% don’t return to a site that they can’t load the first time
- Top 3 traffic sources — Organic traffic comes at 22%, email traffic contributes to 20% and 19% of all internet traffic comes from CPC (Cost-per-click ads)
- Youngsters spend 50% of their time shopping on sites while the older individuals spend an average of 4 hours per week on shopping
- 96% of the entire American population has made a purchase online at least once
With these numbers, you’ll have an idea on how customers channel their purchase trends and how you can take advantage of that. In this way, if you can affect your customer in a positive way, you’ll surely have a loyal customer base in no time.
Don’t take customer loyalty for granted. Refusing to stay consistent with your customers can cause you to lose your loyal customers to other brands. The modern shopper is hard to please and even harder to retain.
It takes a committed level of satisfaction from your side to be able to impress them enough to ensure they remain with your brand.
Loyalty is earned not bought, so don’t waste time with meaning advertisements without the proper products to back them up.