Getting someone to come to your store is one thing, but getting them to come back is a different thing entirely. Customer loyalty is one of the hardest (but also most valuable) things to acquire in the world of business. With fierce competition and many alternatives to choose from, your customers have plenty of choice, so it’s your job to convince them that you are, indeed, the best and most fitting option for them.
Businesses often neglect their long-time customers to gain new ones, but this has definitely proven to be a mistake. Why? Because loyal customers buy more, generate constant revenue and help spread the word about your business. When the times get rough, you can count on your long-term customers and their support; therefore, this group of people needs you to pay more attention to them. You should always aim to turn customers into returning ones, so here’s a list of 9 tips for building customer loyalty (even with the current business climate of daily deals and strong competitors).
1. Reward customer loyalty with gifts
Let’s be honest – everyone loves a special treatment and to feel like they are more to a company than just a buyer. Giving special offers, discounts or gifts to your recurring customers is one of the best ways to ensure their loyalty.
If you can tailor that special offer to fit a specific customer, that’s even better. That means going beyond a one-size-fits-all gift and linking it to the customer’s previous purchases. This way, they will get the most benefit out of your special offer and feel like you’ve really put some thought into it, to make their experience more pleasant.
2. Never keep your loyal customers waiting
Okay, so your service should be prompt no matter who walks into the store, new client or not, but waiting is even more detrimental for keeping your loyal customers happy. If you keep them waiting for too long, they will most likely think something in the lines of “So I’ve spent a fortune here, but they don’t have the decency to serve me; I’m really disappointed!” To avoid this, you can arrange a special line for them or give them immediate seating when they walk in. It makes them feel VIP in a way, because they get to skip the regular procedure, so they are guaranteed to come back to receive the same treatment.
3. Have integrity
Integrity leads to respect, and sometimes, being honest will be all you’ll need in order get your customers to return. When a client walks into the store, he needs a specific product that provides a solution to the problem. Getting him to buy something purely for the sake of the acquisition is not an effective way to build loyalty. You need to offer advice on what would be the best option for them personally, not what suits you best. This way, the customer will go home thinking that you really are helpful and will turn to your company every time he needs a solution.
4. Never promise something you can’t deliver
When you’re advertising your brand, you will most likely be tempted to add a few good qualities here and there, just to make your offer more attractive and get people to come to your store. This is a big no-no. It creates the opposite effect of what you were going for – customers come with great expectations, only to find that you can’t deliver what you promised, so they walk out and never come back.
There’s this pizza place close to where I live and on their flyers, it says they do deliveries. One time I wanted to order and they said, “We don’t actually deliver, we just write it on our flyers”, and hung up. Guess what happened? That’s right, I never called them again and shared my negative experience with other people. Never tell customers that you can do something that you actually can’t.
5. Always aim to be better
Let’s stick to that pizza place for a little longer. If they apologized or did something, anything to show me that they’re sorry for the mistake, I probably would’ve given them one more chance. Instead, they completely ignored me, which only made it worse. My point is – listen to feedback and put it to good use.
When someone is unhappy with the service, do your best to figure out what you can do to improve. Feedback is the best tool for figuring out what your customers want, so never get offended by their comments and ignore them. Nothing puts you out of business faster than unhappy customers that feel like their needs are not being met.
6. Connect with customers through shared values
Defining your values is a huge part of creating your brand’s identity. Think of which qualities you’d like your brand to be associated with and build your company around them. When someone thinks of you, do you want their first thought to be an honest approach? Ability to solve problems? Offering the best product on the market? Whatever it is, you advocate those characteristics and become a synonym for it in the eyes of your customers. If they connect to what is important to you, they will come back.
7. Show customers your personality
The rule is: the more personal you get, the better. You want to come across as a company that consists or real people who believe in the same thing and are passionate about what they do. Showcase the people behind the name. If customers can connect a face to the brand, it makes you seem much more human. Show how much fun you’re having behind-the-scenes and that you’re different and more inviting than your competition. It creates a warmer and more memorable atmosphere that people will want to be part of.
8. Find out what your customers want
Every person is different and has different needs; your job is to fulfill those diverse requirements. Keep an eye on social media, conduct poles and read comments – all of this helps you figure out what customers want. Analyzing that information will allow you to change your offer to suit your clients better and be ahead of the competition. Keeping track of what customers seek will perhaps give you a chance to become an innovator in your field, because you will see an area that can be improved, but that no one has paid enough attention to. If not, it will still be beneficial for keeping your existing customers happy.
9. Make your loyal customers ambassadors for the brand
You can show that loyalty pays off. Customer referral programs not only expand the number of customers, but also increase loyalty. What you do is you give a certain amount of power to your most loyal customers, let them advocate the brand, in a way. It goes beyond the usual positive word of mouth – you let them bring their friends along and give them all a special treatment, or you give the ambassadors extra benefits for spreading the word. The new people will trust you because you’ve been praised by a friend and the ambassadors will feel like they are a part of your brand, like they belong.
The most important thing is to never take customer loyalty for granted. No matter how successful you’ve become, if you neglect your loyal fans, they will turn to another company that will make them feel appreciated.