Customer loyalty has undergone many dramatic changes over the past few decades as technology has rapidly evolved. Quite simply, customer loyalty means something much different today than it did in 1980. Among other changes, screen-to-screen has replaced face-to-face, with more customers preferring to keep communication digital.
Meanwhile, customers have more choices, at their literal fingertips no less, than ever before. This plethora of choices means customers can take their money elsewhere if they aren’t satisfied with your products and/or services, making customer satisfaction, an important component of customer loyalty, all the more important.
So what should businesses do? There’s no silver bullet for ensuring that customers will be highly loyal and satisfied. However, there are some steps you can take to measure and improve customer loyalty.
First, Measure Advocacy
In the past, customer loyalty was primarily measured through surveys and written reviews. These tactics are very useful but they do not capture the full picture. Another way to measure loyalty is to measure advocacy. Are your customers referring their friends and family to your business? Do they pro-actively advocate your products and services on social media?
Next, Engage Your Customers
Once you grasp advocacy among your customers, you should engage them. When companies engage with customers, those customers are more likely to develop a substantial relationship with that company. This increases loyalty. Ultimately, boosting engagement strengthens the relationship your company has with a customer.
So how do you do that? Start by interacting with them via social media. Don’t use social media as a one-way communication tool. If someone leaves a good review, thank them. If someone has a complaint, acknowledge and address it. After customers make a purchase, send a follow up email, asking if they are satisfied and if you can do anything.
Make Yourself Transparent
Trust can have a big impact on loyalty. Customers are more likely to be loyal if they feel they can trust you and your company. For this reason, transparency can have a major impact on loyalty. Companies that are transparent can increase loyalty, while companies that aren’t may lose both trust and loyalty.
When increasing transparency, simple methods, such as blog posts, can go a long way. A blog post introducing your founders is a great start. Another one talking about your company culture can go a long way.
Outside of blogs, use social media to transparently address an issue. Was there a major issue that causes a bunch of orders to be shipped late? Address it transparently: “We value our customers and want to apologize for some late shipments last week, there was a power outage at our warehouse.”
Partner Up With Other Companies
You might not think it, but partnering with other brands and companies can help you increase customer loyalty. Let’s say you manage the social media for a company that sells car cleaning products.
What if you partnered up with a company that sells high-quality tires. Every once in awhile, you could remind customers about the importance of making sure their tires are in good repair. You could also mention the latest line of tires offered by Partner Tires Company, which provide X, Y, and Z safety features.
Meanwhile, Partner Tire Company can occasionally share similar posts. Maybe they promote safety and your windshield cleaner, for example. This method is effective because customers will see that you care about more than just your own products. Further, customers that are loyal to Partner Tire Company will trust their promotion of your products (and vice versa).
Make Online Contact Easy and 24/7
If customers have a complaint or issue, you want them to raise it immediately. This way, you can resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Customer service can be rather unpleasant as customers are often upset and irate. When dealing with difficult customers, if you address issues quickly and effectively, you can actually increase customer loyalty.
That’s one of the reasons Amazon places so much emphasis on customer service. If an order goes wrong, Amazon will go well out of its way to correct the issue. Unsurprisingly, Amazon also enjoys some of the strongest customer loyalty in the world.
Make communication easy and transparent. Emails, messaging, chats, and all the rest should be easily accessible. If your company is large enough, try to offer support 24/7. If you can’t do that, be as responsive as possible, and also set up a chatbot.
Make Sure Your Brand Identify is Spot On
Customers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that exudes trust and plays to their key values. You should carefully think about your target market and what their values are. You should also closely examine your competitors. If you’re setting up a wealth management firm, you’ll want a brand that comes across as high-class, professional, and serious. If you’re launching a tech startup, you’ll probably want something fun and innovative.
What’s important is making sure that your brand reflects both your company and what your customers want. Ultimately, your company should be delivering customers what they want, so the two aspects should be in sync, or at least complimentary.
Customer Loyalty is All the More Important in a Digital Age
Let’s wrap this up by highlighting an important point: the Internet has made customer loyalty all the more important, so you should work towards boosting customer satisfaction. These days, customers can quickly and easily find alternative retailers and/or substitutes for their favorite products and services. This means you’ll have to work hard to attract, please, and retain customers and their loyalty.
While there’s no magic bullet for ensuring customer loyalty, if you follow the above tips you’ll be off to a good start!
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