What do Apple, AT&T, Ford, Hyundai, Domino’s, Google, Konica Minolta, Discover, Dunkin’ Donuts and the NFL have in common? If you answered, ‘They have loyal customers,’ give yourself a pat on the back. According to Forbes, these companies top the list in 2015. Apple, in particular, seems able to convince people they need ever more expensive electronics. Contrast this with Samsung, whose market share slipped in 2014. The failure of the Galaxy S6 has consumers doubting whether the company is still relevant. And that, at the end of the day, is what determines customer loyalty: relevance in the marketplace.
Some experts put the blame of Samsung’s slippage squarely on the shoulders of the company itself. Analysts claim that each year’s model was only slightly better than the year before and that the company has been relying on aggressive advertising to drive sales. But you can’t just tell people that your product is better, you have to prove it. Or, at least, you have to convince the people that matter it is. Looking at you, Apple.
Getting customers is hard work, but keeping them should be easier.
Let’s look at a few strategies.
1. Make it personal.
Guess what? Customers want to feel you care about them. They want to associate a corporation with a decent person. Consumers crave this connection. Implement this on the local level by creating a system that recognizes repeat business. A newsletter just for loyal customers is a great way to go about this.
You can—should?—also invest in a system that pushes a notification to loyal customers when they enter your store. Just bake the functionality into an app that gives repeat customers special discounts. Your customers will feel great when they get a message like, “Hey John, welcome back! Take 5 percent off!” How generous you are with these treats I leave up to you.
2. Reward early technology adopters.
Continuing this high-tech trend is an idea for brick & mortar stores. Create an express aisle for users of your loyalty app. Users can “check in” with their phone to queue up in the special line and avoid the normal lanes.
Not only will this bring more people to your loyalty program, it will make users of your app feel damn special. To take this to the next level, you could institute a program in which loyalty app users have a chance to receive a discount each time they queue up. The possibilities are endless. If you’re an online enterprise, you can adapt these ideas with a bit of creativity.
3. Offer tours.
This is a simple idea that gets overlooked. Your most loyal customers can be powerful brand ambassadors. Some of them have blogs, and some of those blogs will be quite popular—it’s just the law of averages. Invite your most loyal customers to tour your facilities, meet with your executives and your creative team. Customers absolutely love this, and you can bet they’ll talk about it with anyone who will listen. This hearkens back to the idea that customers need to see the human side of your company.
Invite your most loyal customers to tour your facilities
4. Create real ambassadors.
Your brand ambassadors can be powerful allies on the social media front, but what if you endowed them with actual power? You can create an uber, superduper loyalty program composed of your most vocal brand ambassadors. Give them the power to offer discounts to new members of your basic loyalty program. If they think your product or service can make their friends’ lives easier, they’ll send them your way. But you can make their pitch a lot more effective if you let them take a few bucks off the top. Anything to lower new customer resistance, right?
5. Show your softer side and profit.
Don’t be shy about your charitable endeavors. By buying from you, your customers can revel in your philanthropic adventures by extension. After all, they are directly funding your charitable programs, right? But don’t just send money to some overseas charity. Get hands on! Go see how your money is being used and take lots of pictures. Maybe host a contest to take a few customers along. Turn it into an event. All of this results in masses of content you can share to your social media profiles.
6. Break out the hand-written note.
Letters from the CEO are one thing, but handwritten notes to your most loyal customers are on another level entirely. Little gestures like these can keep your brand ambassadors energized. Tell these customers about upcoming events, products and specials. Let them know how much they mean to your company.
7. Pass on information.
You know what your customers are into, right? Use your social media platform to keep them informed. Let them know about products they might enjoy. This shows consumers you aren’t just out for yourself and that you care about the community.
8. Tell your customers how you’re helping them.
You don’t have to be shy about all the cool things you do for your customers. Put it into your newsletter. Tell them how you keep prices down by controlling costs or how you can afford free shipping. Take them on a virtual tour of your R&D department and tell them about the products you’re developing.
9. Go beyond with customer service.
Pay extra attention to customer concerns and complaints. The customer is always right, not because they are, but because they can determine the future of your business. With the advent of social media, customer support has never been more important. If you’re proactive, you can solve common customer problems before they gain critical mass.
10. Get out of the way.
Don’t force your followers to use one social network over another. Create a presence on all of them and let your customers come to you as they will. At a minimum, you want to be present on:
Put these tactics into practice and we’re confident you’ll see a strong uptick in customer loyalty. Be relatable. That’s the key.
What’s your take? Let us know in the comment’s section below!