In 2003, Harvard Business Review wrote how loyal customers are much more profitable than other customers. The article reported loyal customers are prone to buying from you more often, they cost less to serve and most important of all, they provide the highest quality of feedback.
Whilst all these are good, small businesses still struggle to obtain the creme’ de’ la creme of their customers. Here, we take a look at five effective ways to build your customers’ loyalty:
- Great Customer Service. (Social Media etc)
- Membership Price – Exclusive Discounts or Products (IKEA).
- Send Gifts on Special Occasion (eg Birthday, Wedding Anniversary etc).
- Improve CSR position (Give to charity organisations)
- Organise Social Events with Best Customers.
- My Final Two Cent
1. Deliver Great Customer Service
The topic of Customer Loyalty has always been in the top priority list of every business. It is a known fact that great customer service leads to strong customer loyalty.
From my experience, it is best to prepare our frontliners with a script in case things go south. Have your customer service team prepare scripts of responses in every situation you can possibly imagine. Important scripts to be prepared would be for situations like dealing with difficult customer complaints, answering questions related to defect-products, dealing with negotiating customers etc.
Some may disagree with this method as they feel having scripts will make the frontliners talk more like a ‘robot’ than being genuine and sincere. Reality is, having prepared scripts enable our customer service to become more genuine and sincere since promises are only made based on company policies rather than making empty promises succumbing to customers’ pressure.
Personally, by having scripts, the front-liners will be able to deal with issues methodically. Whenever they face difficult customers, they won’t take any insults or mockeries personally, since scripts are provided to handle such situation. In the process, heated exchanges will less likely to occur in the conversation resulting the customers to feel taken care of despite of the manners of the complaints.
Give more in return for the trouble such as Free Product, Discount Voucher or any promos or offers you can think of. I assure, this will definitely cools down the customers and will not have a hard time to come back to patron your business as trust and confidence was built from resolving the issue.
2. Offer Membership Privileges
Customers tend to come back whenever they are offered additional benefits from the business they patroned. It is a no-brainer the fact that customer retention is always best compared to constantly acquiring new customers (which is good) but can be costly. So, why not offer your existing customers with more benefits?
I keep reminding myself to IKEA’s membership rewards program. I love their idea of offering exclusive prices for Members Only. Not only that, they also continuously rotate the promotional products according to seasons which keeps driving the customers to come back on their website (I know I do).
3. Send Gifts on Special Occasions (eg Birthdays, Wedding Anniversaries etc)
If you feel it is not necessary or a wastage to send such gifts, you’re DEAD WRONG. Sorry for the caps, I tend to do that sometimes.
An important element of a successful marketing is always to build emotional connection with customers. What better way to close the emotional ‘gap’ between you and the customers by sending them special gift on the customers’ important date. Use the customer’s information available to help you on sending the best and relatable gifts. Otherwise, you can always send hamper gifts or something related to your business.
Don’t forget to leave a note with the gift too. Be humorous if it’s a male customer or adorable if it’s the female customer. Be creative.
What’s great about this idea is the opportunity it creates for you. It creates the opportunity for you to include pamphlets on your latest products or promotions with the gifts. However, always remember that it’s the customer’s special day, therefore, it is crucial to not over-sell your business and the focus should remain on them.
4. Improve CSR Position
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is another key element to strong customer loyalty. A lot of my business friends were surprised when I told them this. They do not see the relationship of CSR and their business. Well, here’s how I explained to them:
The general population is susceptible to emotional characteristics of empathy and sympathy. We understand the importance of helping one another in order for survival – a mentality which has been evolved since the early days of mankind.
Long story-short. Seeing how your business likes to help the unfortunate ones (even animals), the general public is inclined towards helping you too. They will assist you in many forms – perhaps not buying into your offered products, but perhaps through referrals or shout-outs.
Obviously, you’re thinking that this is just a ploy to manipulate the public’s perception into supporting the business – which is considered immoral. To a certain degree, I agree. However, if you’re honest about launching your CSR campaign, it makes all the difference.
5. Organise Social Events with Best Customers
Alas, we have come to my final point. At some point of the business, you should give back to the customers who have supported you. Think of them like your own employees too. They have supported and even paid for your products and in return, a special event thrown on their behalf will definitely cheer them up.
I’m sure you are thinking that organising social event is too costly. Well, you need to use your own senses to organise an event which does not ‘empty your pocket’. Rent a space at the restaurant, or several lanes at the bowling centres, or even a barbeque party at your own place! The possibilities are endless!
Rather than being too concerned of the expenses, look at the opportunity it creates. This event is your chance to get to know your customers. It is your opportunity to build emotional connection with them. Understand their perception of the business. Everyone is relaxed and having a great time – it is the ‘holy-grail’ situation of networking. Use it.
6. My Final Two Cents
While all these methods will help your business. Always keep in mind that the best way to build customer loyalty is to always keep staff (especially the front-liners) remain calm and sincere whenever dealing with customers. A little smile or short chuckle can definitely add to making it easy for customers to come back patroning your business too. The genuine and sincerity treatment will definitely go a long way helping in the aspects of customer retention and sale-referrals.