When marketers talk about brands “having a personality” and “behaving more like a person than a business,”, developing customer loyalty is where this “person-centric” thinking is key. The building blocks of customer loyalty are essentially the same as those of a loyal personal relationship.
Loyal customers are people that enjoy doing business with you time and again because you consistently provide these positive emotional outcomes for them. According to Harvard Business School, increasing customer loyalty rates by five per cent increases profits by 25 to 95 per cent, so it is well worth the investment of time and energy to implement these loyalty-building activities into your daily business practice.
Communicate and interact regularly via Instagram, Facebook, text or email. You can celebrate your successes and inform customers of new products and services as people are more likely to visit your social channels before checking out your website.
Facebook is a great tool to reach current and new audiences, create leads and generate bookings. Consider hiring an expert or agency to help you reach your brand-relevant audience through a targeted advertising campaign or syndicating your useful content.
Monitor and manage your online reviews and ratings on Google My Business, Facebook and any other industry or trade directories where you appear. Where customers have the capacity to rate and review your business, claim your profile, keep business information up-to-date, add photos and testimonials making sure that your profile shines above your competitors.
Set up a Google Alert for your business to monitor any press that might be coming your way. Encourage customer feedback by developing a strategy to proactively ask for ratings and written reviews. Respond to both good and bad customer comments on third-party websites. A bad experience can be converted from potentially bad reviews to loyal fans if you follow industry best practice. Give your team the discretionary power to right a bad experience and when they do, ensure it exceeds the loss your customer experienced.
Collaborate with complementary brands or businesses to create something new, generate a newsworthy (and Instagrammable) experience or get creative around relevant seasonal calendar dates and invite your loyal customers back for the experience.
Consider inviting a group of targeted product or industry influencers to try your new service or product if you are looking for a serious boost. Network in your industry’s community and industry-relevant events as a way to meet media, bloggers and influencers. Invite influencers back when you have something new to share to encourage their loyalty.
Customer loyalty programs play a part in adding to customer experience but are not the foundation. Once you identify your customer motivations and expectations, only then can a loyalty rewards program be implemented to effectively encourage faithful customers.
The kindness in business of “going the extra mile” is giving customers more than they are paying for or expect. Cultivate a team that are in-tune to other people, observant, love to serve and thus are better able to see opportunities to do more than expected. You will be rewarded with five-star ratings and rave reviews.
The steps taken to maintain a connection with a loyal friend during COVID-19 and as we recover, re-connect in person can be ‘replicated’ with loyal customers: maintain communication and interaction via Facebook, Instagram, text, zoom and email; reassure and demonstrate to them that you are practising COVID safety measures; invite them back to enjoy your innovative COVID-safe product or service experience; and offer loyal customers a thank you incentive to return, bring, or refer a friend.
Viktoria Darabi, Founder, Savvy and Successful and Business Connect Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre