Loyal customers are more than repeat business – they are evangelists for your brand. Brand evangelists not only purchase your products, they promote your company to their social networks, both on and offline, and remain faithful even when your prices are not the lowest.
Converting a dispassionate customer to a brand evangelist requires purposeful, positive relationship building, and these six tips are essential:
- Share your brand’s story: Brand loyalty is built by fostering a personal connection between the customer and the company. Creating that connection begins with learning to tell your company’s story to your customers in a way that resonates and inspires. A loyal customer is one who is excited about the ideals your company stands for, not simply the products you sell. Using the appropriate social media channels to tell your story should be part of the strategy, but customers should feel the influence of your company story every time they encounter your brand, from your website, to promotional materials, to press mentions, to the look and feel of your packaging. Define your story, your ideals, and then (subtly) remind the customer of them at every opportunity.
- Keep them in the know: Regular communication with your customer base keeps your company at the top of their minds. Pertinent company news, alerts about special deals or pricing, and customer testimonials can all help your customers feel more connected to your company. Be careful not to flood your customers’ inbox with spam. Benchmark your communications metrics against your own data and industry standards so you can continue to fine-tune your messaging. For example, keep track of your open and click-through rates for each email promotion you send and compare them to previous emails as well as to the average rates for others in your industry. Use this data to fine tune details such as subject lines or the times/days of the week messages are sent.
- Respond quickly and professionally to complaints: Good, old-fashioned customer service is still the key to cementing truly solid customer relationships. Though any complaint, especially those made publically on social media, may feel threatening, it’s actually a great opportunity to win a customer’s loyalty. Respond quickly with a professional but friendly attitude, figure out what went wrong, and then work out a satisfactory solution. Researchers say it takes ten good experiences to make up for one bad one, but if customers’ experiences are all good, they will tell eight other people.
- Provide exceptional value: Build customer loyalty by being a brand they can trust to offer them the best product at a fair price. A fair price means that both you and your customer feel that you each got a great deal. If you create considerable value for your client, you are entitled to earn a handsome profit and the client will be happy to pay your invoices.
- Thank them: Regularly find opportunities to thank and acknowledge your loyal customers. New customers are important, but your existing ones are even more so. It is 3 to 10 times cheaper to retain customers than to attract new ones, and existing customers with whom you have built solid relationships are more likely to be evangelists for your brand in the marketplace. According to the Pareto principle, 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your customers. Keep customers engaged with your brand in a positive way by offering them exclusive discounts, industry information that might save them money, or simply by sending them a sincere, hand-written note to thank them for their patronage.
- Customer loyalty begins with employee loyalty: A dynamite team is built by giving them your loyalty and your support. Empower your team by giving them the tools they need to succeed in their roles and they will be better prepared to positively represent your brand. Support them with your loyalty and trust, and they will pass those ideals to their own teams in turn and eventually, to their customers.
Small businesses have a distinct advantage in developing customer loyalty, as today’s customers increasingly value the personal touch only small businesses can offer. Tap into the growing interest in personalized buying experiences to connect with your customer base and convert them to passionate evangelists for your brand.