Our attention span is slipping. Let’s face it and admit to ourselves that we tend to have our eyes taken by the new and shiny, often looking for greener grasses. It’s an inevitable instinct, but it’s also a matter of this generation having numerous options to choose from.
It’s getting tougher and tougher to keep to just one service or company when they’re all trying to one-up each other in terms of benefits.
Gaining a loyal customer is a precious gem that you should cherish and never stop polishing. They have higher conversion rates and spend more than first-time customers. And, more importantly, they are your brand’s ambassadors and your most honest advertisers.
Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth, be it literally through telling their friends about it or by sharing insights on social media.
Loyal customers are worth the effort, and they should be the ideal goal you’re going for. It may seem exciting to get new clients because they bring new opportunities and new revenue, but that loyalty is the backbone of your business.
Things may get rough at some point. You might find yourself out of fresh ideas or new ways to get back into the market. It will be your loyal customer base that will keep you afloat, so you need to make sure that the ship is sturdy and ready in case of emergencies.
1. Be A Picky Customer
Ever heard that in order to become a good leader, you must first learn how to follow?
It’s an important lesson in life from a philosophical standpoint, but an adjacent wording works wonderfully in marketing and customer care services. In order to understand your clients better, you must first become one of them. You have the inside look into your business, you know the ins and outs, and you understand the subtle nuances.
However, after working and staring at the details for a long time, you might actually forget the big picture.
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Offer scrutinizing attention to everything, from the design of their shop, to the greeting at the door, the availability of their sellers, and the way they handle complaints especially.
It’s all fine and dandy when it all works well, but how you deal with a crisis or issues is what will gain you someone’s loyalty.
Browse through their website and test their customer care by phone. Then, turn around and do the same to those in your own company. Consider what made you feel good about the experience? What caused you stress? The product alone won’t guarantee you their loyalty, but that mixed with an excellent experience certainly will. Offer both.
2. Use The Human Touch
Yes, the millennials are in full-force, and everything around us is getting digitized. But, as much as we entertain ourselves as tech aficionados and boast of our capabilities of keeping up with modern technology, there is nothing that will surpass human-to-human interaction.
It’s much more powerful than company-to-client or weird-robot-to-client. And it may be even a little ironic that in a world full of tweets, shares, and likes, people still crave human interaction in business. In truth, it’s much more powerful for increasing customer loyalty.
Sure, automated phone systems will save you money, but it’s nothing compared to an operator with nerves of steel and packed with patience. Studies have shown that the small things, like a greeting, a goodbye, or even a smile can encourage customers to come back and buy more.
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It’s an excellent idea to start with the owners and leaders of the company. True leaders are in the front, and there’s nothing in front of dealing directly with the customer. And everyone just loves talking directly to the business owner. It makes them feel privileged to have the big boss offer attention.
They will come back again and again if they feel that they are being heard directly by the one in charge. Not to mention it’s a great ego boost.
3. Get Them What They Want Before They Know It. And Then Some
Anticipating the needs of your customers is a surefire way to gain their loyalty. It’s a psychological concept that speaks about mastering the difference between want and need.
A majority will want something that they believe they need, and they will buy it. What a company can do is find what they want and then convince them that they need it. That ability shows that you care about them and that you actually pay attention to their current and future needs. Offer them dedication so that they will offer it to you in return.
However, investing in the right kind of customer is tricky, and you may need to make some sacrifices.
Never forget that some short-term investments might be incredible long-term when it comes to customer loyalty. For example, Zappos has a 365 days return policy on their shoes. Imagine how much of an absolute nightmare that is for accountants, but the time and money invested is more than worth it because it’s a dream for customers. In fact, their revenues rose by 20% in the year of its implementation.
It may be an extreme example, as not everyone possesses that kind of budget or has the luxury of a big brand behind them, but the essence remains. Offer your customers something new, something different, something they need, and do all of this by anticipating their needs. Get to know them, be it by following them on social media or through interesting customer surveys. Take them by surprise and over deliver.
4. Customer Care + Customer Satisfaction = Customer Loyalty
Ditch the scripts and have your customer care staff deal with people exactly how they would want to be treated. Dialogue and intuitive problem-solving will go a long way not only for employees to improve themselves, but for gaining customer loyalty as well. The age of scripted nonsense is gone. It no longer works because everyone knows they’re being given standard answers that don’t truly mean or promise anything.
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Genuine transparency can be incredible, as well as taking responsibility for your own faults. Why? Because everyone wants people to be honest with them, even though not all are able to offer the same in kind.
A great and honest customer care service will offer them exactly what they want and guarantee their loyalty. Your clients want to know what is happening. It’s important that you tell them. Admitting a mistake or detailing how you will resolve an issue might just go a longer way than standardized answers. Don’t just speak. Actually say something.
News of bad services reaches twice as many people as praise of excellent services. It’s a tragic truth of the digital age, the high cost of bad service, and human nature itself.
We are prone to remembering the mistakes of others more than their successes. In this day and age, where the Internet dominates media intake for a large part of the population, it’s even worse. It’s unforgiving and unforgetting. That’s precisely why spicing up your customer care service and steering away from the standard will increase customer loyalty.
5. Realize That it’s not About You
It never should be, not even in the most basics methods of either gaining new customers or earning the loyalty of existing clients. Something as simple as creating a survey or engaging in email marketing are no groundbreaking things.
You can learn how to do it and what are the best practices, but even that might not set you apart. Even major companies still commit mistakes. For example, many still begin their emails and surveys by boasting how great their brand is. There is no need for it. If it’s a new customer, they will not just take your word for it, and if it’s an existing customer, they already know it because they chose you.
Focus your attention on them instead of talking about yourself. Identify your customers and understand their needs. Then, take that information and craft it specifically for them.
Your loyal customers are special and they should be treated as such. However, you do not have to spoil them with fur coats and gold watches. Instead, do something simple that appeals to their inner ago. Even something as easy as referring to “paid customers” as “VIPs” or switching from “Premium Plan” to “Awesome Plan” can do wonders. Ply yourself to their personalities while keeping your brand’s voice.
It’s important to get a little creative without crossing the line. Make it about them specifically and don’t be afraid to show your appreciation.
Customer loyalty is incredibly difficult to obtain because many companies have similar products. So, high quality might not be enough. Small details, however, might put you a step ahead. Show yourself to be genuinely interested in their how they interact with your company. And, yes, go ahead and actually be genuinely interested in that.
6. Focus On Values, Not Relationships and Interactions
It may seem difficult to understand because numerous companies and startups have it in their mind that they need to create a relationship with their customers. It sounds beautiful and perhaps even poetic to create a friendship of sorts with your clients and maintain it through interaction. However, those are not the pillars of loyalty.
The constant interaction may become irritating, and attempts at creating a relationship are not suited to everyone’s taste. As it happens in real-life partnerships between two people, some space is needed, but the core values should remain.
You need to stand for something, and your customers will become more loyal if they can relate. First of all, not every client will want a relationship. In fact, only a quarter of them might want it, while the rest will never see your brand as anything more than a company.
Apply that to your strategy if you want them to become loyal without being overbearing. Understand who belongs where, because endless emails asking some customers about how they’re doing might actually end in losing them.
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Pedigree’s Dog Food believes that “every dog should have a loving home”, and Harley Davidson wants “to fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling.”
These are vastly different companies, but both have values that ring true to their customers. And they do not gain loyalty by constant interactions and questions about kibble flavors and onboard mileage. Instead, they focus on their core values, practice it, and then scream it from the rooftops, so the whole world knows.
Attaining customer loyalty may be difficult, but it’s also the most valuable asset anyone can possibly have. There are no quick tips to gain the dedication and commitment of your clients, no “hacks” to help you get it faster. It’s a combination of effort and attention, along with high-quality services and perhaps a dash of charm. Things that are worth it in life are rarely ever easy, and this is no exception.
About the Author: Thea Millard is a Market Data analyst, a private consultant, and a Contributing Editor at Happy Customers Review. She has a great interest in everything related to corporate branding, online marketing, and entrepreneurship, and loves helping businesses and individuals thrive.