It’s an interesting phenomenon to think how difficult it is to gain customers and build brand loyalty, but how easy it is to lose customers without even trying. Building a brand, acquiring new customers, retaining old customers, and maintaining loyalty are all interrelated. It can be a fragile relationship that a business shares with its customers. In a competitive world where businesses are vying for market share, a small mistake can mean disaster. When a dissatisfied customer moves to a competitor, the word-of-mouth displeasure can be a stimulus for other customers to leave as well. Of course, the opposite is true. Satisfied customers communicate satisfactory buying experiences with others.
Consider for a moment the large impact one small sale can mean to a business when repeated time and time again by the same customer...perhaps, month after month or year after year. When numerous customers duplicate this same type of repeat business, the lifetime increase in revenue for a small business is invaluable. Combining this type of customer allegiance with word-of-mouth, goodwill promotion, creates a winning brand loyalty.
Use these tips to create and solidify a solid, long-term relationship with customers:
Know The King – Building brand loyalty is never an easy process, and one that must be ongoing. Businesses have to continuously strive to ensure that customers are satisfied...not just one time, but all the time. The customer is the king and should be made to feel like one.
Customer Preferences – Businesses should know their customers and understand their preferences. Each individual or business customer is different and unique in some way. Knowing customer’s “needs” and “wants” is an important factor in understanding how a business can best create satisfaction among its customers. Therefore, a beginning step in the process is for a business to know its customers the best it possibly can.
Customer Service – Customer service means taking care of customers not only before a sale but also after a transaction is completed. Customers remember what a business promises long after the salesperson forgets what was said or claims the business made. Customer issues must be handled promptly and properly. The satisfaction of a purchase can easily be turned into a feeling of dissatisfaction when service and follow-up are not as promised. Procedures should be in place that complement the sales process and handle customer issues efficiently.
Reward Loyalty – One of the most innovative programs to reward loyal customers was started in the 1970's by airlines with frequent flier miles. Loyalty programs still remain popular today speaking loudly to customers saying, “We care about you and want your continued business.” Regardless of the type of loyalty program (points, gifts, discounts, or rebates), the strategy is simple, which is to give customers an incentive to make repeat purchases.
Communicate – Clear and honest communication through all stages of a business relationship is vital for customer retention and loyalty. Facts when stated must always be unmistakably clear and concise. As the expression goes, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” Once credibility is lost, it’s lost forever.
Build Brand Loyalty – Building brand loyalty is no easy task. Regardless of the product or service, industry, or business size, brand loyalty is a byproduct of several different factors. Once established, it helps a business grow and outpace its competitors. When brand loyalty (products, services, business, employees) is attained, loyal, satisfied customers become no-cost, goodwill ambassadors attracting new customers for a business.