Customer loyalty is arguably the most important factor in your business’s long-term success. With higher customer loyalty, your customers will be less likely to switch to a competitor. They’ll be more likely to make more purchases with your brand in the future. They may also be more likely to refer friends and family members to your brand, increasing your total reach.
But customer loyalty doesn’t come by accident. You’ll have to work hard and optimize your business if you want your customers to be loyal to you.
The Most Important Factors for Customer Loyalty
If you want loyal customers, you’ll need to have these items, at a minimum:
1. A customer experience (CX) strategy. First, you need a customer experience (CX) strategy in place. Customer experience is more than just customer service; it’s a description of a customer’s entire experience with your brand. It includes every brand interaction and every stage of the customer journey, from first learning that your brand exists to well after their final purchase. With a comprehensive CX strategy in place, you’ll have much more control over customer impressions of your brand, and you’ll be able to make their experiences much more positive.
2. A unique, consistent brand. To improve loyalty, you’ll also need to have a strong, original, and consistent brand in place. Customers buy from brands consistently when they have confidence they’re going to get the same experience every time; they know the values of the organization, the products they like, and the vibe they’ll get when visiting the store (or website). You can’t accomplish this if your brand standards are inconsistently followed or poorly defined.
3. Ongoing customer communication. Customers are inclined to stick with brands they engage with on a regular basis. That’s why it’s important to have an ongoing communication strategy in place. Customers should find it easy to reach out to a customer service agent, and they should be receiving emails and other forms of communication from you on a regular basis. This keeps your brand top of mind and prevents customers from forgetting about you.
4. Consistent brand touchpoints. You also need to demonstrate consistency with “brand touchpoints,” or opportunities for customer interaction. For example, how often does the average customer see your company’s logo? How often do they receive newsletters? When do you reach out proactively?
5. Rewards for loyalty. Customer loyalty programs are becoming more popular because brands are beginning to realize just how effective they are at promoting customer loyalty. The idea is simple; give customers rewards for continued purchases with your brand. For example, you could allow customers to earn “points” based on how much and how often they purchase with you, then allow them to cash in those points for gift cards, discounts, or free items. You can customize your loyalty rewards program however you like, as long as it keeps people coming back.
6. Further incentives to stay. For some customers, loyalty rewards aren’t enough to stick around. You may incentivize customers to stay by making your product “stickier,” or harder to give up. For example, you may offer customers a convenient place to store all their files, making it difficult to transition to a new product even if it offers competitive functionality.
7. Great customer service. It should be no surprise that one of the easiest ways to increase customer loyalty is to provide great customer service. When customers contact your business with questions or concerns, answer them. When customers have a problem, resolve it. Train your employees well, and make sure all customer interactions are as positive as possible.
8. Occasional pleasant surprises. Surprises are powerful because they provide unique, memorable experiences. Occasionally surprise your customers with things like expedited shipping, discounts, special offers, or new opportunities. When you go above and beyond “ordinary” experience, you can cement customer loyalty.
9. Accountability for mistakes. No brand is perfect. At some point, you’ll neglect a customer in some important, negative way. When this happens, it’s important to take accountability for your mistakes. Admit wrongdoing proactively and do whatever it takes to make the situation right.
10. Willingness to adapt. Finally, be willing to adapt. Brands don’t keep loyal customers by remaining exactly the same; they constantly add value, experiment with new developments, and try to find ways to make their customer experience even better.
Measuring Customer Loyalty
How can you be sure that your strategies are working? The only way to tell is with consistent measurement and analysis. Customer loyalty is hard to measure, but you can gather data with the help of surveys, metrics like customer churn, and qualitative studies. Try to figure out what makes your loyal customers loyal, and work harder to bring more of your customers into the fold.