What does it take to create customer loyalty, the kind of loyalty that makes customers stick with you, even when their favorite sales representative, hair stylist or financial advisor moves on?
Here are some tips from the experts.
1. Know your customer base. Customer bases are not homogeneous. They are made up of different demographics, with different needs and with different motivators for shopping with you. Profiling your customers can tell you a lot about how to keep them. When was the last time you did a customer survey or conducted a focus group?
The more you get to know the unique makeup of your customer base, the more you are able to adjust products and services to respond to their unique needs and the more likely you are to hang onto their loyalty.
2. Make it personal. Shift from mass mailings and generic communications to personalized print communications as much as possible. This should go beyond “Dear <<name>>” and include content driven by demographics, demonstrated preferences or past purchase history. The goal here is not just to let your customers know that you know their names, but to increase the relevance of your communications to their lives.
3. Spread the communication around. Some companies assign each customer a specific customer service representative or sales consultant. This creates a special relationship between customer and sales rep that can be invaluable. The downside is that this relationship can become so valuable that, should the sales rep leave the company, your customer might be willing to leave with them. For this reason, encourage your customers to have multiple contact points within your company.
4. Increase the frequency. Stay in communication with your customers on a regular basis, not just when there is a special promotion or event. This is the idea behind most drip marketing campaigns. They help develop a relationship that creates a value beyond price and convenience and keeps your company top of mind.
5. Reinforce and reward loyalty. When customers are loyal, let them know that you appreciate it. Then reward them for that loyalty. Send them special “loyal customer” discounts, personalized to their unique habits and preferences whenever possible.
Retaining customers takes effort. It requires a customer retention plan and an intentional, focused effort to keep those customers you’ve worked so hard to have. What’s your plan?
Are you up for a surprise? In a customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents indicated that they were delighted with the products or services they purchased, yet 88% said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!
How can this be? If customers are happy with the products they buy, how can they switch so easily? Because so many companies offer products and pricing similar to one another’s. That’s why maintaining customer loyalty takes more than the basics. You have to make people feel valued, not just by offering them great stuff, but by how you treat them. Give them a great customer experience.
According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 73% of consumers consider customer experience important in purchasing decisions. This means that all things being equal, they will go where they feel most valued and appreciated.
That’s why a consistent, high-quality drip of customer communications is so important. It makes customers feel noticed and valued, not just when you want them to purchase something.
- Set up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that demonstrates that you are sincerely grateful for their business at regular, pre-planned intervals.
- Use the data you’ve collected to grow your relationship with these customers. Offer valuable tips, newsletters, and case studies that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.
- If you are going to cross-sell or upsell, make those suggestions valuable and relevant to your customers based on the information you have collected, such as their past purchases or subscriptions that are expiring.
- Ask for their feedback. People love when you ask their opinions. Now act on what you learn. Communicate through tangible actions that you not only care about what they have to say but are willing to act on it, too.
Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention.