Why does a customer remain loyal to a particular brand?
Businesses have posed the question of how to build and strengthen customer loyalty throughout history. But it’s more pertinent than ever before in today’s crowded digital landscape, where businesses struggle to build and maintain customer loyalty in an ever-expanding field of competitors.
Now if you’re already frightened about the future of your business, take a deep breath and keep reading. The good news is, there are plenty of ways for your company to earn trust and loyalty from your customers, even in today’s busy marketplace.
How to Build Customer Loyalty
Offering high-quality products is no longer enough. Today’s customers have an abundance of good options, so why should they stick with your brand over another?
Further increasing competition for brand loyalty, customers trust brands far less than they once did. In an Accenture study recently conducted, 54% of respondents experienced a drop in trust, which resulted in $180 billion in revenue at stake of being lost. This is a troubling trend, considering the fact that trust is the foundation of customer loyalty.
So let’s get into our top five strategies to build customer loyalty!
1. Invest in Multi-Channel Customer Service.
Great customer service is one of several factors that make a customer loyal to a brand. On the other hand, bad customer service can derail customer loyalty all by itself. Respondents in a Loyalty360 survey found that 44% of customers who experience bad service will stop their purchase and seek a different provider.
Today’s customers interact with brands through a variety of channels, and they expect high-quality service on each one. In order to maintain consistent customer service and avoid errors, brands must invest in a comprehensive, multi-channel customer service strategy geared towards building loyalty.
Here are some tips to consider:
Implement AI-Powered Chatbots on Your Website.
Picture this scenario: a customer has a product-related issue they need assistance with.
They visit your website, where they find a customer support email address. They send an email, but since it’s late at night they don’t receive a reply until the next morning. Then, they engage in a lengthy back-and-forth before the customer service rep understands their problem.
Now, imagine that the same customer visits your website and is greeted by an intelligent chatbot.
The chatbot responds to the customer’s inquiry with personalized messages, analyzes their responses, and points the customer to the helpful resources they’re looking for. Instead of taking an entire day to receive help, the customer begins to solve their problem within minutes.
In the digital age, customers have come to expect this level of instant gratification.
When your customers wait to receive the help they’re looking for, it reflects poorly on your brand. AI and chatbots are an effective, consistent method to ensure you never leave your customers waiting for high-quality service.
Establish a Social Media Support Protocol.
Social media has revolutionized every form of interpersonal interaction, including customer service. When your customers reach out to your brand, they don’t just expect responses; they expect fast and helpful responses.
It may seem anxiety-inducing, particularly if your social team is lacking in resources and bandwidth. But don’t fear: you can enable consistent, quick response times by establishing a thorough social media protocol.
This protocol should provide answers to the following: Who should respond to each type of support request? How will you handle requests that come in during off-hours? How should you respond to a negative message, or a positive message? Or a product-related question? What requests should receive top priority? And so on.
Make sure your social media protocol is as thorough as possible. That way, you’re always prepared for any and every customer service request you receive — which helps to build brand loyalty and trust over time.
Create a Customer Knowledge Center.
Many customers reach out with similar questions, issues, or support requests. If this is the case for your company, it means your customers are having trouble finding information that should be readily available to them.
Fix this issue by creating a centralized knowledge center that contains all the information customers often look for.
This center should feature a FAQ section that answers the most important and commonly-asked questions your business receives. Your knowledge center should also include any content that will help your customers use your products or interact with your brand — such as product demos, tutorials, webinars, and other useful assets.
2. Provide Ongoing Customer Education and Training.
Let’s talk about one of the biggest mistakes B2B brands make. Their sales reps get super hands-on with prospects during the buying journey — they provide demos, answer questions, ask for feedback, etc. Then the prospect makes a purchase, and suddenly they’re on their own.
If they have a question, they have to reach out and wait for an answer. If the product they purchased undergoes an update, it’s on them to figure out how to use its new features.
When you stop engaging your customers after they’ve made a purchase, you send a clear message: We just wanted your money. On the other hand, when you offer ongoing assistance and training, you show customers that your business genuinely cares about their experience.
Establish a process to engage with and support your existing customers. That process can start with simple outreach messages to periodically check in on customers. We also recommend hosting ongoing training sessions that help both new and old customers get the most out of your products.
This kind of ongoing education is particularly important in the B2B space, where products tend to be more multifaceted and are often updated with new features. This attention to customer care will not only improve buying experience, it helps to build customer loyalty through positive experiences.
3. Create Exclusive Content for Customers.
Exclusivity is one of the most powerful instruments in a business’s proverbial toolbox. It’s simply human nature to desire something that the general public cannot attain. Your business can leverage the influence of exclusivity to build customer loyalty — starting with exclusive personalized content.
We don’t simply refer to product training materials and educational content. Create engaging content of all kinds, strictly for your customers — articles, videos, webinars, and any other type of content your customers enjoy.
Distribute this exclusive content in a monthly customer newsletter, along with company updates, important milestones, and any other fun or informative nuggets your customers will enjoy.
Yes, it takes a lot of work to create exclusive content for people who already buy from you. But, the extra effort will be worth it when more one-time purchasers become lifelong loyal customers.
4. Recognize Customers in Public-Facing Content.
We’ve talked about content for your customers — but you can also encourage loyalty by creating content about your customers. Content that features real customers is a great way to humanize your brand, build trust with your audience, and of course, build customer loyalty.
Here are a few examples of how you can feature customers in your content:
- Case studies and testimonials: Customer testimonials and case stories provide a great opportunity to let your customers tell their story. These content assets benefit your brand, as they build authenticity by exploring your company’s services through the experiences of a real customer. But, featuring a customer in a case study will also make them feel important, valued, and more connected to your brand.
- Social media posts: A simple Tweet or Instagram post can go a long way. And the engaging, conversational nature of social media makes it a great place to feature your customers in quick social images, videos, or even a quick shoutout to recognize a specific customer’s accomplishments.
- Website content: Your website is what represents your brand and services to the world— so why not highlight the real people you sell to? Instead of filling your website with stock imagery of random strangers, include images of your actual customers. Add customer quotes and snippets of testimonials to let your customers play a role in telling your story.
It goes without saying: Always ask for permission before featuring a customer’s likeness in any of your B2B marketing content. But as long as they’re a willing participant, your customers will feel a sense of pride when you choose to highlight them.
And, other customers will recognize the appreciation you show to your buyers, which in turn will strengthen your overall brand and drive customer loyalty on a wider scale.
5. Establish an Incentive-Based Customer Loyalty Program.
We’ve already covered several methods of showing your customers appreciation — stellar service, exclusivity, public recognition — but nothing shows appreciation like a real, tangible reward.
Reward your loyal customers by establishing a formal customer loyalty program. While there are many different forms of incentives you can offer within your program, here are a few recommendations:
Create a Tiered Incentive Program.
The rewards you provide should grow in value as a customer continues to remain loyal to your brand. Consider structuring your program around several distinct loyalty tiers, with each tier providing incentives that increase in value. You can even develop a points-based system, where customers earn points for specific actions and work their way up the tiers of your program.
Offer Incentives that Speak to Your Customers’ Values.
Monetary rewards are great, but your customers also care about issues that extend beyond their own personal benefit. Implement loyalty incentives that benefit the social issues that represent your brand’s and customers’ values.
For example, instead of a discounted product, you might donate a percentage of your loyal customers’ purchases to a charity they support.
Personalize Your Incentives.
Of course, many customers will be satisfied with a simple monetary incentive. But, we recommend you personalize your incentives based on each individual customer’s history and preferences. For example, you might offer a customer a discount on a product that complements the products they’ve purchased from you in the past.
The statistics show that customers respond more favorably to personalized loyalty programs:
- 86% of companies that exceeded their 2018 ROI goals for their marketing budget reported that personalization made up 21% or more of their budget.
- Message Personalization is the #1 tactic used by email marketers to improve performance
One-size-fits-all incentives run the risk of making your customers feel like they’re just another number in your program. Personalized incentives indicate that you care about each individual customer and want to provide the reward they’ll value most.
Benefits of a Customer Loyalty Program
Not only does a loyalty program help build relationships, it opens up more opportunities for rewarding both organizations and their customers. So when you create a loyalty program, ask if it’s a “win-win”.
Customer loyalty programs also help track buying behavior, especially buying potential. Do customers prefer to buy in certain seasons? Where do their buying interests lie in both the short and long term?
And If paired with a referral program, you can collect valuable feedback to impress future prospects. Customer referrals are definitely worth investing into, even if it means offering them discounts, exclusive offers, or personalized content.
Building Customer Loyalty to Stay on Top
Intent is crucial when it comes to building customer loyalty. Before you implement any of the above strategies, ask yourself: am I really trying to help and show appreciation for my customers? Or, is my only motive to convince them to keep making purchases?
If you have an ulterior motive, your customers will recognize it. Don’t look for ways to trick your customers into sticking around; invest in genuine methods to improve their customer experience and make them feel valued. Establish a brand that places the customer’s satisfaction above all else, and you’ll be sure to consistently build customer loyalty. For more on topics related customer relationships, learn about the future trends in CRM.