Customer Loyalty: How to Learn it, Live up to it, and Make it Last
In a previous blog, I discussed useful methods on how to establish your brand in the eyes of your customers so that they will recognize and respect you.
Part of that process involved setting goals to achieve and maintaining consistent performance, and today I’d like to go into greater detail on that regard.
Specifically, I want to cover useful strategies on how your brand can come to understand your customers. After all, setting goals and sticking with them is all well and good, but first you need to analyze what they want from you and devise how you can best deliver that to them. If you go making baseless assumptions and utilizing flawed operations, you’ll only end up wasting your own capital as you drive your would-be customers into the arms of your competitors.
If you want your customers’ loyalty, you need to show them you deserve it, and I’m going to show you how.
For starters, understand that this is something you’re not going to earn overnight. Attracting and engaging customers to do business with you simply plants the seed, if you don’t tend the seed with reliable service and consistent quality, nothing will grow. What’s worse, failing to do so could end up tainting what you’ve planted, causing the dissatisfied customer to spread negative reviews or word of mouth, making it more difficult to cultivate loyalty moving forward.
With this in mind, it’s imperative you do your research before you get started.
Begin by learning who exactly your customers are, or rather, who you want them to be. By clearly identifying your demographics, you give yourself a direction in which to pursue your methods. This will cut down on a great deal of trial and error, saving you valuable time and money.
The three keys to understanding your demographics are as follows:
Customer motivation to buy/use your brand
Once you have a thorough understanding of who you’re trying to reach, the steps they must take to reach you, and the reasons they’re reaching out at all, you can then precisely tailor your campaigns to appeal to their interests and meet their needs. Additionally, you’ll be able to review your existing methods and update or adapt areas that are causing tension for your customers, implementing changes to minimizing stress or improve efficiency.
Granted, sometimes that means making big changes, changes that don’t line up with what you’re used to, and you need to remember that there’s nothing wrong with that.
Things like updating discount programs, taking steps to increase transparency and accountability in official communications, and employing new tools and technology you may not be familiar with in order to deliver beyond expectations and upholding higher standards of customer support are just a few examples of techniques that seem strange at first, but will pay off in the long run.
I know it can be difficult to accept when the data you get back goes against your expectations. There will be times when you’re sure the numbers seem wrong, and that if you just continue the course you’ve set, things will work out in the end. However, the point of collecting this data is to reveal what appeals to your customers, not what appeals to you. A chef who refuses to serve anything other than his own favorite food will find himself making less money than the chef who prepares what his customers want to eat.
If you want to exceed, let alone meet, your customers’ needs, then you need to be able to step outside your comfort zone. It may be daunting at first, but the results will be more than worth it.
Just remember, their satisfaction will result in your satisfaction.
In fact, a speaker at the Social Media Examiner Conference I recently attended had a story to tell about his own experience in this regard.
As he explained, he took part in developing a marketing campaign that tied into the launch of a new product, releasing an ad that promoted an unusual return policy. As the ad explained, customers were entitled to a full refund to their product if they found it unsatisfactory within a 60-day period. What was curious, however, was that the company would actually reach out to the customers and send them an email to inform them when the 60-day period was almost over, reminding them that they still had the option to a full refund if they were unsatisfied.
Many companies avoid reminding their customers when such periods are about to expire, the entire reason that mail-in rebates are profitable is because the majority of people who purchase them either forget to mail in their rebate or are simply too lazy to do so, meaning they end up paying full price for an item or service they wouldn’t have purchased if it wasn’t “on sale.”
Yet this company went ahead and alerted their customers of the closing window, and wouldn’t you know it, their strategy was a success. Not only did they notice a tremendous decrease in return rates, but they even received replies to their messages, thanking them for the reminder and in some cases even stating that the act of good faith had cemented the buyer’s resolve to keep the product.
The company took a calculated risk, but thanks to the careful analysis based on the data behind it, their gamble paid off. By understanding who their customers were and what would make them happy, that company was able to establish a positive presence in their customers’ minds and ensure those same customers come back for more. If they can continue to offer the same level of targeted and positive service, they will secure a loyal and dependable customer, who in turn is likely to spread the word and attract other customers, and on and on it will go.
You can find the same level of success for yourself and your business if you follow the same steps. Mind you, the exact same procedures won’t necessarily work for you in the same way, nor would whatever tactics you’ve employed in your career work for them. The three key research points may be standard, but what you do with that data is what makes you unique.
Find out what it is your customers want, and see how you can meet their needs in ways others can’t or won’t. Set a standard, see that you keep to it, and watch as those customers you first impressed keep coming back for more.