4 Ways to Build Loyalty Through Customer Experience
The process of building a loyal customer base is different for every business — including yours. What you can offer your customers to keep them coming back depends on the size of your business, available resources, and how many customers you have.
Some businesses retain customers by offering coupons and freebies, while others rely on top notch service and personalization. For instance, two companies I’m fiercely loyal to are Ulta, and a local store, Need to Bead.
Ulta won my devotion by offering a large variety of products, excellent customer service, monthly coupons, birthday gifts, and a loyalty program that has real benefits. As a national brand, they can afford to do this without hurting their bottom line.
Need to Bead, on the other hand, is a tiny, neighborhood establishment. The owner is warm and caring, offers to teach beading techniques for free, and always has an answer to my questions. The fact that she blasts Queen over the stereo system and brings her dog to work every day doesn’t hurt either.
Despite differences in both size and what they offer, these two stores have one thing in common — a great customer experience. Customer experience is the key to inspiring loyalty. Even if you can’t afford to hand out discounts right and left, you can improve customer experience by doing the following four things:
In today’s fast paced world, it’s easy for customers to feel like a number. So much emphasis is placed on speed that we often forget we’re dealing with real people. Take the time to talk to your clients and customers. Call them by name. Ask about their day, their plans, their family. Give a sincere compliment. Comment on what they’re buying — why you like it, or your personal experience with it. These small, human connections go miles in cementing a loyal relationship with your brand. In fact, research has shown that consumers with strong emotional connections to retailers will visit their stores 32% more often — and spend 46% more money — than those without emotional bonds.
Ask & Listen
Relying on assumptions to tell you what your customers want isn’t a good plan — after all, you know what they say about assumptions. The only way you’ll truly know what your customers want, and what upsets them, is to ask and listen.
You can go about obtaining feedback in a number of ways. Offer an online survey, a social media poll, or simply ask them in person or via email. When you ask your customers for feedback, you’re telling them you care about and respect their opinion. You can further these positive feelings by taking action based on what they say and communicating this action to them.
To show your customers they matter, you absolutely have to acknowledge inquiries and complaints in a timely fashion — if you don’t, they’re likely to leave and never come back. These responses need to reach resolution in the first contact. According to Parature, 70% of customers say they would have stayed with a brand if their problem had been resolved in one interaction instead of multiple ones.
You might be surprised at how rewarding it can be to resolve customer complaints. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that customers who get their issue resolved tell about four to six people about their experience. This word of mouth can do great things for your business.
Keep Your Promises
When you make a commitments to your customers, do everything within your power to follow through. If you say you’re going to be available at a certain time, make sure you’re available at that time. If you promise two day shipping, you need to deliver on that promise. Whatever expectation you set, it’s imperative you meet it. When customers can trust you to keep your promises, they’re more likely to come back in the future.
There’s no arguing that customer loyalty is important. Research from customer experience management company, Market Force, found that high customer satisfaction rates result in two to twelve times higher recommendation ratings. This means that the more satisfied your customers are, the more loyal they are — and the more loyal they are, the more word of mouth they spread. And that, my friends, is marketing gravy.
Liz Greene is a writer, marketing professional, and history geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter@LizVGreene.