Customer loyalty taps into who we are — a central part of our humanity is our desire to build connections, after all. We need these connections and thrive off them. When it comes to our relationships with brands, we’re no different.
Customers want to be able to trust brands and feel comfortable in doing business with them. Being loyal not only saves a whole lot of hassle, it makes us feel good. And companies themselves simply wouldn’t exist without loyal customers helping them grow and thrive.
So, let’s dive in and take a look at exactly what customer loyalty is, and how you can nurture it in your business.
What is customer loyalty?
Customer loyalty is all about the level of devotion customers have for a brand’s products or services and how strongly they favor that brand over its competition.
Customers exhibit their loyalty by consistently choosing to purchase a certain product or brand over other options available in the marketplace. This loyal behavior comes from a feeling of particular allegiance with a brand.
Why is creating loyal customers important?
Loyal customers offer you a whole range of benefits far beyond simply increasing the frequency and amount of money customers spend on your products or services. For example:
- Loyal customers become advocates for your brand — sharing and promoting your business via word-of-mouth on social media and beyond.
- Loyal customers are more understanding — they will forgive you and stay with you as long as you deal with issues in the right way.
- Loyal customers know your brand — they are perfectly placed to provide key feedback to help you learn and improve.
How do you gain loyal customers?
Emotion is at the heart of what drives human behavior, and loyalty is no different. If you want to build customer loyalty and create an unforgettable customer experience, you need to make your customers feel good. There are a number of ways to do that through your culture and everyday operations:
- Amazement. A pleasant surprise makes a happy customer, keeping them guessing and relationships fresh. Do something for your customers that puts a smile on their face.
- Affinity. A consistent and personalized experience helps create customer engagement and breed a sense of comfort and familiarity. Make sure all touchpoints are connected and let your brand personality shine through.
- Gratitude. Going above and beyond creates a sense of gratitude in customers that they want to repay with loyalty. Go out of your way to make it up to them when anything goes wrong.
- Belonging. Creating a sense of belonging makes customers feel part of something bigger. Build communities, engage individuals through social media, and listen to and implement feedback to do this.
5 Customer loyalty strategies
Customer loyalty is the result of a company consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Over time, that helps build up trust. And when customers trust companies, they are far more likely to do business with them again.
There are many practical strategies you can implement to encourage repeat customers and increase customer lifetime value through customer loyalty.
1. Provide great customer service
Making customers feel valued and respected is crucial when it comes to them forming an emotional bond with your brand. Technology such as live chat facilitates contextually relevant, real time communication, leading to increased customer satisfaction. To understand exactly how satisfied your customers are, take a look at your CSAT metrics or a number of other customer service KPIs.
Want to know more about choosing the right KPIs? Check out our on demand webinar: https://acquire.io/webinars-events/customer-success-teams/
2. Understand the customer journey
Mapping the customer journey creates important customer data that shows how and where you can improve. Once you have this understanding, you can adopt an omnichannel approach that allows customers to interact with your brand the way they want. Stitching together different touchpoints and centralizing vital data in this way helps provide seamless and consistent interactions and ensures a great customer experience.
Want to know more about how to wow your customers through conversational customer experience? Check out our whitepaper: https://whitepaper.acquire.io/fp-conversational-cx
3. Think long-term
A culture of longevity rather than short-termism is key. Businesses often place too much emphasis on short term profits and lose sight of the need to nurture long-term customers, assuming they will stick around regardless. Yet, customers who have been loyal for that long will expect to be made to feel even more valuable, not less. So, it’s important to measure customer loyalty and understand who and where your loyal customers are. One of the ways to do that is by looking at repeat purchasers.
4. Employee engagement
Treating staff well creates more engaged employees, and that filters through into the customer experience. Staff that actually love their work and workplace make a big difference. Make sure employees feel like an integral part of the company: ask them what they think about different business issues (processes, strategies, etc.) and take their feedback on board.
5. Create a customer loyalty program
A customer loyalty program is a long-term marketing strategy providing incentives to customers who demonstrate loyalty to your brand through their buying behavior — customers earn points and when they purchase, for example. Programs that do well are aimed at encouraging customers to return often, repeatedly purchase, and favor you over competitors.
Remember, when designing a customer loyalty program:
- Keep it simple. If it isn’t easy to understand and use, customers won’t be able to engage with it.
- Make it meaningful. Unless it matters to customers there is little incentive for them to get involved.
Want to know some quick and easy ways to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty? Check out our on demand webinar: https://acquire.io/webinars-events/banking-on-cx/
Customer loyalty examples
Here are examples of some companies that really get it when it comes to creating customer loyalty.
A free sample selection from Amazon
Amazon provides a service that sends out free samples of different products from both new and well-known brands, helping customers discover products they love. Every time a customer opens up their package it’s another chance for them to be amazed and they’ll already be looking forward to receiving the next wonderful selection.
A great customer experience with Neiman Marcus
Fashion brand Neiman Marcus uses technology to link online and offline platforms. An app connects shoppers to sales associates through text messages, calls, emails, or FaceTime, geo-location shows stock availability in nearby stores, and a “Memory Mirror" records and captures your try-ons from every angle, which can be shared among contacts for opinion gathering. The ease and personalization of this approach leaves customers wanting more.
Another level of service at The Inn
The Inn at Little Washington not only knows what it’s like to go the extra mile, they know what it’s like to go the extra 200 miles for a customer! After a couple arrived to celebrate their anniversary at the 5-star hotel, they realized they’d left the woman’s handbag at home — 8 hours away in Pittsburgh. A hotel employee stepped up saying, “Get me their keys and the address; I’ll be back before dinner.” That kind of gesture is sure to put you firmly in your customers' good books and keep them coming back in future.
A community at Starbucks
The My Starbucks Idea program acts as a modern-day suggestion box to 150,000+ members. The reason this is so successful in creating a sense of belonging and community is because many of the suggestions from community members have actually been implemented, from digital tipping to peach green-tea lemonade. That way, the members know their voice truly counts.
Customer loyalty needs maintenance
In any long-term relationship, there is always the danger of taking it for granted. Remember to pay as much attention to an existing customer as you do trying to acquire new ones. No matter how long they’ve been around, never stop strengthening those ties, and you’ll see the difference in your bottom-line.