No matter the type of business, there is a universal need for customer loyalty. Most sources, in fact, estimate that it costs between four and ten times more to acquire a new customer than to maintain an existing one.
But how do we maintain those long-term, enthusiastic customers? You know, the type that may also evangelize your product or service to others? The obvious first step is to have an exemplary product offering that solves a real business challenge. After that, and assuming the way you conduct business is professional and courteous, there are other ways to boost customer loyalty. Here are a few best practices to try in 2015:
Engage customers with valuable, personalized content. In the digital age, we’ve all learned content is king, but it’s also true that not all content is created equal. Many companies walk a fine line between pushing out content and spamming. Content that is highly relevant and timely will have customers looking forward to your next communication. Give them exclusive content they can apply to their business, and they’ll view you as a useful resource they can’t do without.
Improve responsiveness to customers. The world is moving at an ever-faster pace these days, and responsiveness to customers must also increase accordingly. Customers that receive a speedy response to their phone call, email or trouble ticket feel as though you value their time, and they’ll remember it.
Extend responsiveness to social media. The Internet has created more ways for customers to express their satisfaction (or oftentimes, dissatisfaction) to others. Monitor social platforms regularly for comments about your business and respond with professionalism and grace. Customers—those with bad as well as good comments—like to feel like they’ve been heard. A heartfelt thank you for a kind tweet (or conversely, a genuine offer to promptly assist in resolving a tweeted problem) can go a long way.
Incentivize customer loyalty. Everyone likes to feel as though they’re receiving a value-add. And while B2Cs have been incentivizing for a while now via coupons, SMS texts with “today only” offers and punch cards that promise your “tenth meal free,” B2B companies should consider their own form of customer loyalty offerings. Depending on your business, these incentives could be free tech support or free product training, an all-expense-paid outing for top customers, or access to a VIP lounge at a major industry trade show. Get creative and think of special perks you can offer that your customers will, in turn, value.
Build relationships based on people. It’s much harder for a customer to walk out on a sales rep or support team they’ve come to know and trust than for them to merely walk out on a product or service for a cheaper one down the street. B2Bs should not only value building personal relationships with customers—they should also value those within their organization that hold those relationships, such as sales reps, customer service reps, tech support personnel and others at the face-to-face level.
When it comes to building customer loyalty, there is absolutely no replacement for offering a superior product coupled with professional service. But as the business world grows increasingly more competitive and more companies are offering what you are, we all need to find extra ways to keep those customers we worked so hard to get. Enhancing customer loyalty can help you not only avoid the vicious cycle of continually replacing sales, it can also turn established customers into testimonials that win you more business.
What programs does your business undertake to build customer loyalty? We’d like to know—leave your comment below.