No matter what industry or which country you operate in, customer loyalty is very valuable to you. That is why businesses of every size and shape have implemented loyalty programs to keep their customers coming back again and again.
Unfortunately, this traditional loyalty model has grown tired and provides little differentiation in the market today. As a result, it's time to rethink customer loyalty.
In a nutshell, there are only 2 reasons to always bring your customers coming back to you - and that is the experience they get when transacting business with your company AND the person who assisted them.
Whether you sell B2B or B2C, it's essential that everyone in your business understands the critical value of loyal customers, the importance of the customer experience to loyalty, and their key role in creating the customer experience. If any one employee fails as a loyalty-builder, it will cancel out all the other loyalty efforts your business has invested in.
Having a loyalty program is no longer a competitive differentiator. It has become a mainstay of a business environment where loyalty programs have become a commodity and a potential detractor to the overall customer experience. They have become nothing more than another way to offer a price promotion. Loyalty programs can also create disdain for your customers that can't receive the benefits or special pricing offered exclusively to program members.
If you want to reap the benefits of true customer loyalty - it's time to rethink what customer loyalty really means. Customer loyalty is not obtained by holding a card, accumulating points or redeeming rewards. Furthermore, loyalty cannot be measured simply by customer longevity, frequency or purchase volume. Customer loyalty is not a one-way street; it cannot be determined solely based on what the customer has done for the company.
Instead, customer loyalty should be turned upside down. Perhaps more companies would get it right if they measured loyalty in terms of the degree to which the COMPANY is loyal to the customer rather than vice versa. Companies should strive to remember repeat customers, address them as individuals, call them by their name, and treat them special.
Resistance to Change . . .
Resistance to change is the greatest hurdle your competitor faces. However, if . . .
. . . the chances of them moving to your competitor is unlikely to happen.
Investing time and energy in promoting customer loyalty should be an integral component of any business' marketing strategy.
When business owners think of "marketing" in general, they tend to focus on activities targeted at attracting new customers. But, whilst 60% of the company’s revenue is generated by existing customers, the importance of retaining existing customers mustn't be overlooked. A few of the most important reasons why customer loyalty is important to your business are outlined below:
Loyal customers will purchase your goods or services again and again over time. Depending on what type of business you have and what the sales cycle is like, you may end up selling more to one loyal customer in a year than you might to 10 first time customers.
As you build relationships with your loyal customers, it will become increasingly easy to upsell to them in higher volumes. This may happen naturally, or you may choose to incentivize the process for your customers. In any case, higher volumes mean greater sales, which translates to higher overall profits.
Loyal customers trust you to provide quality products and customer service. This creates a great opportunity to cross-sell additional related products and services to them, thus increasing your overall sales volume without needing to focus so much on attracting new customers.
Protects You from the Competition
The more loyal your customers tend to be, the safer you will be from the draw of the competition. Establishing strong customer loyalty can make you practically immune to competitive forces. This is especially important in places where new players enter the marketplace often.
Loyal customers can also bring you new customers. Customers that have great relationships with businesses tend to talk about it. Happy and satisfied customers who keep coming back to you are very likely to refer others who may need your product and/or services.
Benefit of the doubt
Let's face it; things go awry sometimes - even in the best businesses. Sometimes we get an order wrong, don't meet a deadline, or aren't able to deliver on promises made to customers. In today's economy, it's even easier for little hiccups such as these and others to take place in business. These types of mistakes can damage your business' reputation in the eyes of a new customer. A scheduling error can make your firm seem disorganized and unreliable. This is a very easy way to lose customers. The good news is, loyal customers are much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and/or overlook errors. If you maintain the level of customer service and quality that it takes to achieve customer loyalty in the first place, your customers will be willing to forgive you when bad things happen.
With the overabundance of loyalty programs today that offer nothing more than price discounts, it's no wonder that customers are becoming decreasingly loyal to any one brand.
With so much at stake, it's time to rethink customer loyalty by asking . . .
"What have I done for my most loyal customers?"