How To Earn Customer Loyalty

Brian
June 30, 2013

 

Illy Customer Rewards Card by Nicole Hocutt

A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, and savvy marketers know it’s far easier (and more cost effective) to retain current customers than to find new buyers. Though your marketing efforts should focus on both attracting new customers and retaining those you already have, many customers do not have a strategic customer retention plan that keeps buyers coming back for more. The following details ways in which you can continually engage your current customer base and generate consistent sales by earning customer loyalty.

1.  Treat customers like gold

One of the easiest ways to earn customer loyalty is to treat your customers like gold. Thank your customers for their business – and mean it. Review the tone of your emails to ensure they’re friendly and express gratitude. This is true for both emails sent by your team and those generated as automated system responses. Train your employees, particularly sales and support staff, in customer service best practices. When your customers hang up the phone, they should feel good about doing business with you. Moreover, you should incorporate creative ways to make your customers feel special. Send greeting cards for customer birthdays and anniversaries. Print business cards that have a place in which you can write your customers’ names and jot down your cell phone number in front of them. In this manner you can make your customers feel special by giving them personal access to you.

2.  Launch a VIP program

VIP programs are perfect for keeping customers coming back, and they’re easy to service. A good VIP program helps bring customers into the fold of your brand. It gives them an incentive to keep buying from you, and it gives them a sense of ownership that motivates sales. One easy way to incorporate a VIP program is to print rewards cards that can be punched with each purchase. When a customer reaches a certain number of purchases, they get a freebie or discount to thank them for their loyalty. A perfect example would be a sandwich shop that punches cards for each order over $5. Once a customer makes 10 purchases, they get a free sandwich. This concept isn’t limited to sandwich shops, of course; a mechanic could offer a free or discounted oil change, for example.

3.  Give unexpected rewards

Whether your customers are in your VIP program or not, continually thank them by offering unexpected rewards. Doing so will help them feel appreciated and make them want to continue to do business with you. Hand out business cards that double as coupons. Send postcards or distribute door hangers with special members-only or VIP customer coupons. Give your customers personalized notepads and stationery, pass along event tickets, or simply send a thank-you letter or postcard (with a discount code or coupon) to let them know you care about them and appreciate their business. The more you can make your customers feel special, the more they’ll want to do business with you.

4. Add value

One of the best ways to keep customers engaged is to add value to their lives. Send a direct-mail newsletter full of tips, tricks, and advice that is both relevant to your business as well as your customers. Publish a blog and resources section on your website to that same end. The goal of your newsletter and other publications should be to help make your customers’ lives better through content they can use: give them exclusive information, help them solve common problems, and even showcase customers in your newsletter to demonstrate how you can similarly help other customers. Establish your company as the go-to resource in your industry, and you’ll be able to give your customers something your competitors cannot. This type of engagement motivates customer loyalty regardless of other factors such as price.

5.  Give ownership

If you can give your customers ownership, they’ll be fiercely loyal to your company. By giving ownership, I don’t mean selling shares; rather, I mean giving your customer a voice.  Ask your customers what you do well and what you can do better. An easy way to do this is by sending response cards (you can motivate responses by offering a coupon or discount in return for honest feedback). You can also offer special bonus discounts for customers who bring their friends into the fold. A potential promotion could be one in which you send postcards to your customer list that offers a 10 percent discount for every new customer they refer to you, up to five customers. All five new customers would receive a 50 percent discount on their first/next order, and you’ll get to expand your customer base five-fold. All the while, your original customer will be a staunch advocate for your company. The more you can make your customers feel part of your company culture (or, make  your company feel like it’s a part of your customers’ culture), the more loyalty you’ll earn. Earning customer loyalty isn’t difficult, but it does require dedication. Don’t be afraid to let customers know you want to earn they’re loyalty. They’ll appreciate your dedication and will want to help you make decisions that earn their business. Treat your customers like gold, launch a VIP program, give unexpected rewards, add value and give ownership, and you’ll be able to enjoy the great success that comes with having earned customer loyalty.

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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