We already know that customer loyalty has a major impact on profitability and future revenue. The question is: How do you gain customer loyalty? What factors do you need to take into account? More specifically, what steps can you take to achieve measurable results?
Definition of Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty can be defined as an emotional connection customers have to your brand, which inspires them to consistently choose your brand over the competition. Customer loyalty can be measured in several ways, such as:
- The percentage of customers making repeat purchases.
- How long the average customer remains a buyer of your products.
- The amount of money the average customer spends with you.
- Whether or not customers provide referrals or share positive testimonials and reviews.
- Whether or not customers buy exclusively from you.
- How satisfied customers are with their buying experience.
How Do You Gain Customer Loyalty?
In order to gain customer loyalty, you have to understand what customers expect – and deliver on it. You have to consistently exceed their expectations. Having a quality product and providing exceptional service are a must. But that, by itself, won’t sustain customer loyalty. Quality, price, and convenience are factors that drive rational loyalty. As soon as a competitor provides a comparable product at a lower price, customers who buy from you because of those factors will jump ship!
Instead, you need to focus on creating a positive emotional impact on customers in ways they’ll remember and associate with your brand.
13 Steps for Building Customer Loyalty
Below are 13 steps you can take to start building customer loyalty and improve customer retention.
1. Find ways to enhance your value proposition.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, you have to continuously find ways to enhance and expand your value proposition. This includes improving factors that build rational loyalty, such as your product quality, customer response times, and speed-to-market. But it also includes value-adds that drive emotional loyalty, like launching a customer rewards program or inviting top accounts to enter for a chance to win an exclusive group incentive travel event. It’s easier for customers to be loyal when they feel like they will continue to benefit more and more the longer they do business with you.
2. Differentiate yourself from the competition.
How easy is it for customers to understand what makes you different from the competition? Focus on what you do well and show it off! You can help your company stand out even more by providing perks, rewards, services, and other value-adds that your competition doesn’t.
3. Create ecosystems of influencers who impact how customers view your brand.
Your customers’ perception of your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Their opinions are swayed by media coverage, publications, showroom sales reps, dealers, reviews, the people they know… The list goes on! Trust is a major component of customer loyalty, and customers are much more likely to trust your brand if they hear about you positively from someone whose opinion they value.
4. Help customers stay connected.
One of the trends driving customer loyalty is the fact that customers want to be able to connect with brands on their terms. This means that you need to offer digital hubs and mobile platforms where customers can interact with your brand and learn more about your latest promotions. Fully integrating your customer loyalty program with your website, e-commerce platform, and mobile app is a great place to start!
5. Enable customers to learn more about your brand.
Customer enablement can be a powerful tool for building customer loyalty. This means taking the time to educate your customers, providing support, and making that learning experience fun and interactive.
6. Engage customers and communicate with them consistently across every touchpoint.
Your customers have busy lives. In order to build loyalty, you have to stay top-of-mind. This means being able to fight through the clutter to engage your customers and communicate with them effectively. Today, this requires loyalty marketing that is omnichannel, relevant, and personalized.
7. Leverage data to personalize your customer interactions.
Personalization is a proven strategy for building customer loyalty. Customers want to feel special and like their contributions to your brand are valued and recognized. However, in order to personalize your customer interactions, you need the right data. Investing in loyalty software for collecting, organizing, and interpreting customer data will pay dividends down the road.
8. Provide support at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
No matter where customers are in the buyer’s journey, you need to be there for them. That means providing education, engagement, and support at each stage of the process. Investing in your customers at each stage of the customer journey, will help you build customer loyalty in the long run.
9. Follow through on your commitments to build trust.
Throughout the buyer’s journey, set realistic expectations and follow through! Failure to do so will damage trust and jeopardize customer loyalty. You want to be a supplier customers can count on. But if you can find ways to go beyond your commitments, and add unexpected bonuses and value-adds, that’s even better!
10. Set clear goals for growth.
Many customers enjoy having a sense of progress. Help make expectations crystal clear by offering incentives and rewards for set goals that customers can work towards. You can even provide goal-tracking software and let customers to create wishlists for when they achieve their goals!
11. Take ownership of your mistakes and make it right.
Mistakes are inevitable. What matters is what you do to make it right. Building customer loyalty means honoring your commitments, taking responsibility for the customer experience, and doing what it takes to make it right. Offering incentives to unhappy customers can be a way to show customers that you are committed to providing them with an exceptional experience and that you’re a brand they can trust.
12. Reward your most loyal customers.
How often do you take the time to let your top customers know how much they mean to you? Customer rewards and recognition deepen loyalty and give your customers a memorable, emotionally impactful experience they will associate with your brand!
13. Give customers a chance to share feedback.
Finally, if you really want to know what customers expect and understand what drives their loyalty, why don’t you ask them? Taking the time to send out surveys to customers is a great way to gather insight, collect data, and make them feel like their opinion matters. You can use this data to start back at Step 1, refresh your program, and improve your loyalty marketing that much more!
How Do You Measure Customer Loyalty?
Finally, if you are taking steps to gain customer loyalty, it’s important to measure your results. This means identifying KPIs and using loyalty software to monitor customer engagement, pull reports, and calculate ROI. Being able to make informed design decisions, backed by data, is essential for building customer loyalty. And, if you really want to ensure the success of your customer loyalty program, entrusting an innovative company with a proven track record (hint, hint) can make all the difference!