No matter the size of the business, customer loyalty is incredibly important. Repeat customers spend up to 67 percent more than new customers. Plus, it’s up to ten times more expensive to try to attract new customers than it is to keep the ones already doing business with you. If you’re looking for real ways to create and keep up customer loyalty, consider implementing a few of these strategies.
1. Set up ways to communicate with your customers
Frequent communication with your customers keeps you fresh in their minds and lets you pass along important information.
Take the time to set up a database with contact information such as email addresses, mailing addresses, or phone numbers. Then you can send friendly reminders, birthday greetings, or a monthly newsletter.
Social media is another great way to communicate with your customers on an almost daily basis. Keep in mind that this works better if you limit how many of your communications are actually advertisements.
Don’t forget to throw in messages that are either fun reminders or useful information.
2. Provide extra perks for your most loyal customers
One of the best—and perhaps one of the cheapest—ways to reward customer loyalty is to give extra perks to your most dependable customers. Whether it’s the ability to skip the line, special meet-and-greets, or immediate seating, customers love getting a little something extra.
By setting up a reward system for the most loyal, you not only encourage them to stick around, you also give an incentive for other customers to strive to reach that status.
3. Consider different payment plans
There are some businesses out there that are very seasonal and run into cash flow issues during certain times of the year.
For instance, a wedding shop usually receives most of their sales during the summer months when weddings are in full swing, but during the winter they struggle. One shop decided to offer a payment plan through which customers could start shopping in the winter, and pay a little throughout the months leading up to the wedding, rather than paying all at once.
This plan worked because it helped customers by giving them manageable monthly payments, and it helped the company by bringing in cash during an otherwise slow time of year. In fact, customers were so happy that they often referred the shop to others, and the business saw a nearly 400 percent increase in total sales.
4. Provide great customer service
While this seems like a given, it’s one tip that bears repeating because it’s so important. One survey showed that in 2013, 51 percent of customers ended their relationship with a business because they were unhappy with the service they were receiving.
Customers remember when they’re treated well, and they remember when they’re treated poorly. In either case, they usually tell their friends and family, and that can either mean more business for you or lost business opportunities.
5. Don’t rely too much on technology
Even in our technologically advanced society filled with text messages and emails, we still want the ability to interact with other human beings. Everyone can relate to the frustration of feeling stuck in an endless loop of automated prompts until we bang on the phone keys in hopes of reaching a real human. This is why it’s important to keep in mind that while automated phone systems may save money, highly trained customer service representatives build loyalty.
6. Offer a head start
If you want to start a customer loyalty program like coffee shops use, whereby customers buy a certain number of drinks to earn a free one, consider giving them a head start. This can be as simple as giving them the first two punches on the coffee card for free. If you give your customers a head start on the program, they’re more likely to stick around and finish it.
7. Don’t forget to smile
This is another item that seems obvious, but it’s important enough to keep being reminded of.
A study in the United Kingdom recorded the expressions used to greet customers as they entered a store, and then cross-checked with how much they spent in the store.
The study showed that shoppers who were greeted with a welcome and a smile spent up to 67 percent more than shoppers who were not greeted this way.
While it seems like a small detail, a friendly greeting obviously has important consequences.
8. Give customers a reason to be loyal
Many people believe that Apple has some of the most loyal fans out there. Customers go to great lengths to prove just how much they love the company, with bumper stickers, tattoos, and vehement arguments in favor of all the products.
Recently, neuroscientists scanned the brains of Apple fans and learned that the same part of the brain that lights up when religious people think about their deity is activated when these customers think about their beloved products. This shows that if you offer a service or product that your customers think is the best in the world, they’ll be completely devoted with a passion that can’t be topped.
In today’s business climate, it’s impossible to stress just how important customer loyalty is. These tips will help you create loyal customers who will be happy to frequent your business for many years to come.
How has your business worked to create real brand loyalty? Tell us in the comments below!