Customer loyalty is one of the most important factors to build a successful business. If you have loyal customers, they’ll be more likely to give you feedback and promote your brand to their family and friends. You can spend a lot of money on marketing tactics, but in the end, some of your best business comes from free, word-of-mouth promotion and loyal, returning customers. But lately, it’s becoming more common to hear people claim that customer loyalty is dead. People blame a variety of reasons for this supposed “death of customer loyalty”, including age generations, social media, and e-commerce. However, Shaun Belding argues in his recent article that customer loyalty is not dead at all. If your company is struggling to gain loyal customers, it might be a good idea to look in the mirror instead of blaming outside factors.
When considering how to earn customer loyalty, Belding points to a few elements that build loyalty with people in day-to-day life. People like to interact with each other socially and feel a part of something bigger than them. They like to engage with others who hold similar perspectives on life including ideals and values. Finally, loyalty is gained when people feel like they can trust one another and they are appreciated and respected. Can you say that your company takes these pieces of loyalty in mind when creating your customer service program? If yes, then you probably have loyal customers, but the reality is many companies don’t consider these key components of loyalty.
Companies often do things that appear to build customer loyalty, but in reality aren’t as effective as gaining true customer loyalty. Some of these efforts include what Belding refers to as customer bribery or entrapment. Examples of customer bribery or entrapment include financial incentives for long-term contracts and point-based systems often referred to as “customer loyalty programs”. While these types of programs and offerings have had success, points systems and long-term contracts can only do so much to make a true connection with your customers. Ultimately, what you’re left with is a company/customer relationship based strictly off of reciprocation and not loyalty. If a better deal comes along that your company can’t match, the customers will go elsewhere no matter what type of reward system you try to offer.
So, what can your company do to earn and maintain true customer loyalty? Belding advises to lose the emphasis on quid-pro-quo programs (not completely eliminate, mind you) and start focusing on what people actually want:
- High quality and reliable product/service: Does your company have a product/service people can trust? People want to know you can provide them with something reliable they can confidently endorse and support continually.
- Company vision, mission, and ideals: Can your customers identify with your brand on an emotional level? People want to know you stand for something they believe in and support. If your company has social awareness and promotes certain causes, people will be more likely to gravitate towards you over a company that only cares about making money.
- Experience: If your business features a traditional brick-and-mortar location, are customers comfortable physically being there? Providing an appealing environment with amenities that make customers delight in being there will help ensure they want to come back. If you’re primarily and online-based company, is your website easy to use and intuitive? When it comes to your contact center, do your agents provide rigid, scripted responses to customer calls or do they speak conversationally with flexibility in their responses to inquiries? These are questions to ask when evaluating your company for customer loyalty. Provide a natural customer experience that makes people feel welcome and not a financial opportunity.
This blog post was based on an article from CustomerThink. To read the original article, please click the link below:
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