4 Ways Small Business Owners Can Foster Customer Loyalty

By Lois Sapare

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"There is only one boss–the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." -Sam Walton

Sam Walton, founder of the biggest retailer in the worldWalmartteaches us something about the importance of customers in an enterprise. They’re not mere buyers of your products and services. The result of how you treat them can make or break your business, and your journey with them doesn't end after you've implemented your marketing strategies and attracted their attention. The most important part comes after; when you have to retain them and make sure they stay loyal to your brand.

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10x as much as their first purchase. That’s due to the fact that loyal customers tend to stay longer, buy more often, and spend more than new ones. This is why fostering loyalty among existing customers is crucial. Since the cost of bringing a new customer up to the same level of profitability as an old one is up to 16x more, it’s better to focus on retaining customers than on acquiring new ones. So how do you retain customers and keep them coming back?

Make customers think you’re the best option

In order to survive in the cutthroat business landscape, you have to constantly find ways to stand out from the competition. It's not enough that you're providing superior products and services to your customers. Your competitors are doing their best to do that too. Come up with ways to develop a brand identity that will make customers think you're the best option.

A great way for you to gain a competitive advantage is through creating amazing experiences unique to your brand. If done right, you can create loyal customers for life and get them to be brand ambassadors for your business. Take for example Coca-Cola. This large corporation has been acing its marketing game through their creative ads and experiential campaigns centered on 'happiness.' This is part of the reason why the soda giant remains steadily as the world's favorite soda for years.

From creating ‘happiness machines’ to ‘happiness tables’, you can learn a thing or two about creating memorable experiences for your customers from this soda giant. However, you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on your marketing campaigns like Coca-Cola did. There are plenty of cost-efficient ways to get creative in getting the word out about your brand. A low-budget publicity stunt such as a flash mob is one example.

Providing personalized customer experiences is also another way to win the loyalty of your customers. A recent report from Accenture says 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history. This can be achieved through the use of beacons. A beacon is a small wireless device that can push notifications and transmit small amounts of data directly to mobile phones. More and more retailers are taking advantage of this technology and it is expected that by 2020, 400M beacons are going to be deployed.

The small wireless device can help you understand customer shopping behavior, as it can also collect data such as customer behavior, transaction, and recency and frequency of visits. These data can then be utilized to make improvements to your products and tailor offers to your loyal customers. Beacons can also be used to leverage loyalty programs and give repeat customers a chance to earn loyalty points and redeem rewards. More than 45% of consumers say the opportunity to earn rewards is a primary driver for purchasing from a brand. This is why loyalty programs are a great way to get customers to keep coming back to you and increase your revenue.

Leverage the power of social media

By establishing an online presence, you are giving your customers an opportunity to connect and interact with you and with each other conveniently. Social media is a great platform for customers to voice out their feedbacks and suggestions. These customer feedbacks are the best way to find out what you can do to further improve your small business. Implementing their suggestions is also important. It’s a good way to let them know they’re being listened to and that you have their best interests at heart. By doing this, you will produce satisfied customers who are highly likely to stay loyal to your brand and even recommend it to their network.

Provide consistently good service

Good customer service is not enough to gain the loyalty of customers. It has to be consistent, and this can only be achieved if your staff is well-trained and if customer complaints are resolved properly and quickly all the time. Especially if you’re not around most of the time, your staff is your only direct link to your customers. Your employees should be able to face customers with enthusiasm and ability to quickly resolve any customer issues. In order to achieve that consistency, you have to train them properly. Set performance standards on how you expect them to deal with customers.

Perhaps you could learn a thing or two about providing extraordinary customer service from Singapore Airlines who won the 2016 World’s Best Airline for Customer Service award. They have the Singapore Girls to thank in large part for this. These highly trained flight attendants were taught to embody an ideal of service and grace and follow strict standards of grooming, service, and safety.  They were also taught social manners and etiquette appropriate to the airline’s international passengers. This type of exceptional service creates loyal customers who will want to keep doing business with you.

Move people instead of products

In a study published by the Harvard Business Review which included 7,000 consumers for the US, UK, and Australia, those who said that they had a strong brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason. That’s why the best way engage your customers is by connecting with them on a personal level. In order to do that, you must show them what you stand for.  It’s not enough that your brand has a logo and tagline, and a campaign can only do so much for your small business. It’s important that your customers know that your brand’s purpose is not only to make money. By showing them that you stand for something that they also care about, you are doing more than just attracting their attention. You are also inspiring them to choose you because you hold the same beliefs that they do. After all, most consumers aren’t really loyal to any one business. They are loyal to what the business stands for.

 

Next to targeting customers, the most crucial task you’ll have to undertake as an entrepreneur is retaining customers. Creating loyal customers is vital to the success of a business, and while challenging, there are many things you can do to achieve this. By creating unique experiences for your customers, listening to them, providing consistent service, and leveraging their emotions, you can produce customers that will be loyal to you for life. However, keep in mind that even though you can implement a number of strategies to inspire loyalty among your customers, providing quality products and services still play a huge role in retaining them. Have you started implementing these strategies to foster loyalty among your customers yet?

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