Customer loyalty is hard to gain and easy to lose and yet, nothing matters more in business. Visit Checksforless.com to learn how to cultivate loyalty.
Customer loyalty is hard to gain and easy to lose, yet nothing matters more in business. After all, if you don’t have customers that want to take the journey with you, your company won’t get far. Ready to learn more about cultivating customer loyalty? Let’s get walking.
Toby Bottorf recently published, “Sincerity and Transparency Are the Keys to Genuine Customer Loyalty” in Entrepreneur. Generalized and briefly summarized below, here are some of the top-line points that Bottorf believes are essential in getting close to your customer:
Tell us if this sounds familiar. You are a customer with a company at which program rewards are difficult to redeem and/or penalties are applied for opting out early. The result? You’re continually on the hunt for a better deal that allows you to drop your current provider like the proverbial hot potato. Bottorf refers to these relationships as “captivity programs” because the (now resentful) customers stay in the relationship not because they are loyal, but because they are penalized for leaving.
To achieve transactional loyalty, the system must be fair and transparent, and the benefits clear and worthwhile. Companies that cultivate transactional loyalty are completely focused on helping customers get something done. When this happens, customers return happily.
Emotional loyalty extends beyond understanding your customer demographics. Instead, it’s about getting to know them as individual, unique people and proving that you “get them.” Offer your customers amazing one-of-a-kind insider deals, and be willing to go the extra mile to make them feel appreciated.
Bottorf uses Harley Davidson as an exemplar brand that achieves emotional loyalty. Realizing that there was a population of people who wanted to be riders, but felt intimidated in approaching this unique tribe of experienced cyclists, Harley Davidson created Riding School, which teaches Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified courses on how to ride. After happily paying for school, these new riders became initiated into the exclusive culture. Not only did the school boost motorcycle sales, it also reached a new lucrative younger customer segment.
Achieving customer loyalty is one threshold – gaining a fan is hitting it out of the park. When customers become fans, they bring passion and dedication to your business. True fans will rarely leave you.
Tribal identity (like bonding with a sports team) is difficult to cultivate, but it’s nurtured through reciprocation. To become a big part of your customer’s lives, bring them unique experiences (i.e. experiential marketing campaigns) over products. Share their passion in a poignant way each day, and you’ll have fans for life.
Once you begin viewing your customer as a good friend, you start to remember that small touches go a long way. Here are just a handful of ideas to get the ball rolling in the right direction:
Go personal: Depending on the size of your business, your ability to personalize your approach will change. If you are a massive company, maybe your “small touch” is limited to including their name in a mass newsletter email (take the time to do the extra work in your databases). If you are a small and nimble company, you have power in your court. Email or call your customers and follow up on their purchase – i.e. ask them how that particular product worked for their dry skin? Did their friend enjoy the pair of earrings you crafted for them last Christmas? Were they planning on getting something special for their upcoming anniversary that you could help customize? People will be amazed that you remembered the small details, and their appreciation may translate into purchase.
Give back: Thank people for their purchases and loyalty throughout the year with special promotions, gifts, and incentives. Again, if you are a small company, go ahead and make a personalized coupon code for your best customers that will never expire. Lifelong loyalty = lifelong sales.
Step away from the technology: Want to stand out? Send your customer a handwritten note, a homemade birthday card via snail mail, or something that takes more time than an email or a Facebook post. They will notice.
Be helpful: If you have great information (such as a research study) or a must-read article, pass it on to your customers. You don’t need to be after the hard sell to stay top-of-mind.
Just as with any good relationship, put in the time, give back as much as you ask for, and don’t disappear. More than anything learn how to enjoy your customers. They have unique personalities, interesting journeys, and personal stories that can affect your business, or even your life. Remember it’s not the first date that counts – it’s about the relationship you build with your customers. For better and for worse.
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