Harry Selfridge said it best, “Treat [the customer] as guests when they come and when they go, whether or not they buy. Give them all that can be given fairly, on the principle that ‘to him that giveth shall be given.” He knew a thing or two about customer loyalty, creating one of London’s largest department stores, but Harry never had to deal with the modern customer, the challenges he faced are very different than the ones of today. As businesses deal with customers in the connected world new challenges arise.
How does your business measure up in terms of customer loyalty? One way to know for sure is to think about your own shopping experiences. What would a business do to go above and beyond your expectations and make you want to shop there again? Think about your own shopping habits, how often are you loyal to one brand and one brand only? The truth is most brands are facing the same issue, customers are given endless choices and don’t often keep loyal to a single brand. Brands are now faced with the challenge of going above and beyond to build customer loyalty – one brand doing a fantastic job is Apple, many customers feel connected to the brand and choose to upgrade as new products launch. We’ve put together a few important things to consider when determining your perfect customer loyalty strategy.
THINK ABOUT HOW YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS
It’s all about communication, or so everyone in the world says. It’s important to be easy to contact, especially if an issue arises. Social Media has become a modern form of customer service. If an experience goes badly – trust me it will be posted on social media. This can be a double edge sword for businesses, as positive engagement on social media can propel a brand forward and negative reviews can put brands back to square one.
DON’T PUSH YOUR PRODUCTS TOO HARD
When you think of overselling, the image of a door-to-door sales man or car sales person comes to mind – not exactly how customers generally like to be approached. Think about your own shopping experiences- can you pinpoint a time when a sales person came off too strongly in order to push for a sale? How did you respond? And most importantly, how did the sales experience effect your opinion of the brand?
Many customers find their opinion of the company decreased after a bad sales experience and most chose to shop elsewhere to avoid a repeat of the past situation. Striking a balance between selling and overselling is key, especially if you want to increase sales and retain your customer base. You want to be on the mind of your customers, but the last thing you want is to be annoying and give them a sour taste when they think about your business.
OFFER LOYALTY PROGRAMS OR SAVINGS
Does it even need to be said?
Customer loyalty should be rewarded – offering a program to save your customers money or offer other rewards will make them want to come back again and again. Even British Gas have been embracing customer loyalty programs, they recently announced a £100 m customer loyalty scheme beginning in April. Another strong example is Starbucks their customer loyalty program has increased sales and offers customers quick pick up options and free drinks. Adding a levels element to their customer loyalty program brings an extra competiton factor, Starbucks use a star system offering free drinks every 15 stars. That means for coffee addicts are able to move up levels to get to the gold ranking and reap extra benefits.
TREAT CUSTOMERS LIKE FRIENDS
Growing up you were probably told to treat others as you would want to be treated and it’s true in business – treat your customers the way you would treat your family and friends. Do you know when their birthday is or is there a holiday coming up? Send them a card! It’s personal touches that really make the difference. Consider using big data as a way of uncovering marketing trends about your clients, connect on a level you wouldn't normally be able to. SME businesses have the benefit of being directly connected to customers who use your products and can speak to them on a different level than larger businesses. You can create experiences designed to peak the interest of your customers and plan your products and services around customer needs. Treating customers in a friendly way will go a very long way and greatly encourage customer loyalty.