Ever wondered how some brands stay at the top of the food chain? What sets them apart is their attitude of going beyond customer expectations – right from creating an exceptional product to delivering quality service on time. They do everything in their power to ensure that the customer’s experience is as delightful as it can be.
Most success stories of brands are tied to winning over their customers’ loyalty to improve customer experience, and in turn, boost growth and profitability. Why is loyalty so important? Well, acquiring new customers is as much as 25% more expensive than retaining old customers! So focusing on loyalty doesn’t only help you retain customers but also helps reduce costs!
In fact, According to Bain and Co, “Increasing customer retention by just 5% could result in profits ranging from 25%-95% of the total revenue”.
Simply put, for repeat business and repeat customers, you need loyal customers. And to further reinstate the importance of customer loyalty, here are “The Ten commandments of Customer Loyalty” that can steer your organization towards customer centricity.
1. IT IS THY PRODUCT, THAT HATH BROUGHT UPON CUSTOMERS AT YOUR DOOR
Customers purchase a product that they feel addresses their needs, appeals to them and doesn’t stretch their pockets too much. Essentially, these are the three things that determine how customers accept and react towards the launch of any new product or service in the market.
While it is important to keep the creative-hat-on for developing new products, it is also equally essential to ensure that they are in-sync with what your customers want. The experience you build around the product/service is also something that decides a customer’s loyalty. Keep a balance between price, quality and the experience!
2. THOU SHALL NOT CONTEMPLATE ON CUSTOMER SERVICE IN VAIN, FOR POOR SERVICE BREEDS CONTEMPT
Customer service is no longer a silo. In fact, it has become an integral part of the customer journey. Customers today have a plethora of choices in the market. So, what actually sets a brand apart from others in the market? Why do customers like doing business with brands repeatedly?
The answer lies in one simple word, SERVICE. Customers do not prefer brands which offer quality solutions but do not follow that up with great service. Retaining customers is not an overnight process, as buyers expect proficiency every single time and more often than not defect away to competition just after one unpleasant experience.
3. THOU SHALL BE NOTHING BUT CONSISTENT, PERIOD.
Consistency comes into the picture when a brand is able to delight and retain customers over a period of time. Yes, the first and second commandment perfected and performed repeatedly is the only way to remain consistent. And remember CONSISTENCY is the KEY, especially when it comes to creating a long-term sustainable business model.
It’s not about just resolving one customer query. Brands need to deliver great service day in, day out, for customers to actually put their faith and loyalty in them. Customers feel valued when they see that brands bridging the gap closer on feedback raised, yes customers like brands apologizing and owning up their mistakes -only to deliver improved experience next time around.
4. THOU SHALL KEEP RE-INVENTING NEW HEIGHTS OF PERSONALIZATION
As a brand, improving loyalty has a lot to do with engaging your customers. And to drive engagement, personalization is key. No two customers are the same. Every customer comes in with their own set of expectations and it’s up to your organization to know what these are inside out.
Just imagine a world where you see your friends, family and colleagues using a brand. The same brand which you think is popular, has several patrons and yet serves you with a PERSONAL touch. That is the magnetic quality which attracts customers, by directly winning over their trust. In other words, “delivering par excellence”, serves to be a master-stroke when it comes to building customer loyalty.
5. THOU SHALL BEAR NO FALSE VOWS, NOR ACCUSATIONS. THY DEDICATION SHALL REAP CONFIDENCE. IN CUSTOMERS’ CONFIDENCE LIES THEIR LOYALTY, IN WHICH LIES YOUR HONOUR.
If you have customers, then there cometh the villain. You are right – COMPETITORS! Now you turn into the coyote, from the road runner show. This carnivore stays hell-bent to take out his competition – the quick birdie, that he would lose senses, lose control over his ground, and eventually end up getting hurt, really bad! Story sounds similar, doesn’t it?
With more and more companies plunging into the market, it is quite natural to get paranoid about your competition and work towards running faster than them. But in an attempt to outrun competition, are you widening the gap between your brand and customers? Do not lose track of what you’re doing, or put somebody else down, just to gain a temporary foothold. Stay sincere to who you are, build on what your customers tell you and constantly engage with them if you ever want to race ahead on this track!
6. RESTING UPON YOUR END OBJECTIVE WOULD LEAVE YOU NOWHERE TO BE; COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, ONE BY ONE, EACH AT A TIME
Set milestones, cut-out short term goals, and chalk miniature timelines that will help you scale down the bigger picture with ease. A loyal customer stays by for a LIFETIME. As true as it may sound, this doesn’t mean that your strategies to improve customer loyalty have to be spaced on an infinite timeline. So, how do you make sure that a customer stays loyal to your brand? The answer is quite simple. Make sure to focus first on delighting the customer in the short-term – how is he planning to engage with you the next time? What would he expect this time based on the previous interaction? It’s natural to have a long-term strategy in place. But do not lose focus on what you need to do today in order to achieve your goals!
7. REMEMBER THY WILL, THY MOTTO AND PURPOSE. AND REMEMBER TO KEEP IT HOLY!
A lot of factors go into making of a brand. In fact, organizations that have kept their elemental beliefs and branding factor intact throughout ages, have shown higher retention rates among their customers. Being a brand in this competitive enterprise market isn’t everybody’s cup of tea! In order to graze at the greener side, it is imperative to constantly upgrade, evolve and step-up your game. Upgrade your brand footprint, bring about creativity – but remember to keep your belief in place. For instance, take media giants BBC into consideration, from its inception, this company has evolved its brand outlook keeping in mind their evolving audience and the digital age.
The brand has always mixed it up well when it came to blending existing promise with new beliefs. This fact can be distinctly observed in their logos, that have nurtured over time. Just by seeing the image of a bitten apple, there’s hardly anyone who can not recognize the brand – APPLE. Apple has outrun its competition by acing customer service and experience, and not just product quality and market shares. They as a brand have evolved over time, but with each upgrade Apple has stuck to its elementary beliefs and values. That’s why they’ve been able to earn lifetime loyalists from around the world!
8. THOU SHALL KEEP DISTINCTIVE MARKETING AND LOYALTY PROGRAMS, REMEMBER NEVER TO MIX THEM!
Many a times what generally kicks off as a loyalty program takes a different turn. The profit-focused approach of companies more often than not sees such loyalty programs become plain marketing campaigns. These marketing programs are devoid of awards, benefits and rewards for regular customers. In short, brands fail to understand that a customer-centric approach towards business might show little ROI initially, but in the long run, customer centricity is what holds the bond between the brand and the customer intact.
9. HONOUR THY CUSTOMER, HONOUR THEIR EMOTIONS FOR AN HONOURABLE BUSINESS.
Customer satisfaction is measurable. It is a score that can be quantified easily. On the other hand, loyalty is an emotion. It is that ‘feeling of comfort’ which a customer experiences while engaging with a brand. Loyalty, an emotion, which is built over time, is something that brands must look to instill in their customers. Brands must think of ways to go about making customers feel special. A thank you note post purchase or a couple months of extended service can surely turn the tides of customer loyalty in your favour. Furthermore, send occasional greetings to customers, wishing them well on their birthdays and anniversaries, and even a warm and timely festive greeting can surely help your brand carve a special place in the hearts of customers.
10. YOU SHALL MAKE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS, REWARDS AND LOYALTY PROGRAMS. NOT THE ONES ON PAPER, BUT THE ONES THAT MATTER, FOR THEN THY DAYS SHALL BE LONG UPON THE LAND WHERE YOU CONSTANTLY DELIGHT AS A BRAND
Your customers today are tech-savvy, quick-learners, self-reliant and completely open to innovation. So, if you’re of the opinion that a good jingle followed by a sweet promo can attract customers to your brand, then you must be poised in the ninety’s! The answer surely lies in loyalty programs, MEANINGFUL ones that are shaped with the customer in mind. It is an undeniable truth that of the existing loyalty programs today, consumers in the US have participated actively in only a 50% of them. Numbers speak for themselves, and this draws attention towards the fact that loyalty programs fail to solve their actual PURPOSE of existence, let alone surpassing benchmarks and winning the trust of customers.
Loyalty programs have now become more like cheap throw-away electronic goods, which in a matter of months start losing their value. The only way to give your loyalty programs a facelift is by treating loyalty as a PRIVILEGE and not as a BURDEN. Another reason for the decline of these loyalty programs is the fact that companies do not emphasise on absolute transparency when it comes to these programs. Customers aren’t even aware of their accumulation of points, and what these points can fetch them. Isn’t it a pity to be a part of a LOYALTY program without being aware of how it works and what are its benefits?
Go the distance in customer interactions, introduce the element of personalization, and most importantly have a dedicated employee base that works passionately to win over the customer’s trust and loyalty. Always remember – loyal customers are the most valuable gems any business can create!