The Quest for Loyal Customers: What Can We Do To Keep Them Coming Back?


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The quest for loyal customers and repeat business is one that all retailers undertake. We all know that price and product quality, consumer advocacy and loyalty are the marketing trinity, but it’s the loyalty component that keeps us up at night – what can we do to ensure that our customers come back?

Let’s look at the obvious: first, companies need to offer quality products and services at a price that their customers are willing to pay. Second, customers need to believe that the company they are doing business with is looking out for their interests, not just its own bottom line.

Now comes the tricky part – how can you reward customers and keep your company in their hearts, minds as well as their wallets? There are many different avenues to this approach, all of which have been proven in developing a loyal following.

Loyalty cards are one of the ways companies drive repeat business. Card programs are widely offered by supermarkets, and many traditional retailers have adopted these types of loyalty programs. Shoppers can sign up for a card, which is scanned before each purchase. Benefits to the cardholders vary, but often include special perks and immediate savings on grocery items and coupons for future purchases.

Another way to obtain repeat business is to create a point system, similar to the one airlines have adopted. Frequent flyer programs have long tried to create loyal customers by providing the incentive to travel on the airline by offering points that are redeemed for future travel. With the success of frequent flyer programs, other companies, like Pillsbury, have offered similar programs in which points can be accumulated and then redeemed for merchandise or gift certificates.

Membership programs can also be very successful in the quest for customer loyalty. Often outsourced, membership programs help to minimize the cost of getting the customer to make a return visit, as signing up for a program usually includes a discount offer on the customer’s next purchase. When the customer returns, the partner pays for the return visit, and the consumer believes that your company is looking to help them save money, instead of just spend it. In addition, these programs drive loyalty by providing access to many special offers and discounts, like coupons for great restaurants in their area. Not only does the customer return to your site because of the value of your products, but also because you have given them additional value through rebates, discounts or rewards.

Loyalty cards, points and membership programs, alone or in combination, can help you obtain that somewhat elusive goal of having a large and loyal customer base. Good luck!

Rick Fernandes
Rick Fernandes is the CEO and founding partner of, an online technology-based, marketing services company that helps e-commerce, e-travel and e-subscription sites to offer reward, discount and protection programs to their customers. Fernandes' extensive experience in direct and interactive marketing included several key roles at CUC International, Inc.


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