All businesses, big and small, aspire to have a loyal customer base. Any business that has earned customer loyalty will never fail. But the question is how you earn customer loyalty. It is not something that you can buy. It has to be earned.
Promotional activities, free gifts, etc. would increase your footfall. But, it is temporary. As soon as the promotion is withdrawn, the customer loyalty shifts. So what do you do? I will tell you.
But, before going through how to create customer loyalty, let’s understand what customer loyalty is.
What is Customer Loyalty?
Customer loyalty is a customer’s inclination towards a particular brand or business over all other brands or businesses. When you buy all your groceries from that one store, despite having a lot of other available choices, it is customer loyalty. When you get your haircut from the same salon always, no matter how long you have to wait in the queue, it is customer loyalty.
You must have seen people who wear clothes from only one particular brand. Or people who only use one brand of toothpaste their entire life. There are people who use the same fragrance always. No matter how much you convince them about other brands, they just don’t budge. Even if their favourite brand increases its price, they won’t shift their loyalty. The rival brands would try to woo them with offers and freebies but they stay firm.
To witness this extent of loyalty is amazing. But for a business, to have such loyal customers is a blessing as well as a challenge. To create such customer loyalty, you first need to understand the underlying phenomenon. What motivates a person to make constant repurchases from the same brand?
The Underlying Phenomenon
If we closely examine the customer behaviour, you will find out the reasons of customer loyalty. One of the most important contributors to customer loyalty is customer satisfaction and customer delight. When your customers are constantly satisfied with your product and service, they are bound to come back to you. When you go out of your way and do something completely unexpected for your customer, they stay with you for life.
Other reasons for customer loyalty are convenience, quality and performance, familiarity and comfort level with the brand. If you are able to create convenience for your customers, they are likely to favour you over others. Great quality and excellent performance ensure that your customer comes back to you again and again. Building a long-term relation with your customer that builds a sense of familiarity, belongingness and comfort would help you gain customer loyalty.
Now that we have become familiar with the concept and underlying phenomena of customer loyalty, we are ready for the recipe. Let’s get started.
The underlying phenomenon of customer loyalty will be our ingredients. The perfect mix of these ingredients would give us loyal customers. The ingredients are:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Customer Delight
- Quality and Performance
- Familiarity and Comfort
The steps of creating customer loyalty are as follows:
The first step is to be responsive. Instead of waiting for your customer to explain their needs, understand them yourself. Try to be on your toes always. Always listen to your customers intently. Observe each and every thing about your customer. Analyse their buying behaviour. Nowadays, it is quite easy as you can use technology for all this. But try not to lose the human touch. You need to understand your customers’ needs better than they understand themselves. Don’t just provide a product; provide solutions to their needs and requirements. Be proactive, not reactive. This will create customer satisfaction.
2.A single touch point
We know convenience matters a lot in today’s times. People want their buying experience to be seamless and smooth. This is where most of us lack. You must have called a customer care at least once in your life. You know how painful it is!! They bounce you from one executive to another. Like this was not enough, you are asked to press this number then that number. Even getting a simple query answered becomes an immensely painful experience.
How great would it be, if your customers don’t have to go through all this? What if you could provide a single touch point to your customers to solve all their queries? Try to make the shopping experience very convenient for your customers. Instead of having them run from pillar to post, give them a single point of contact. Make some qualified and trained people in the organization responsible for all customer related issues.
Attaining customer loyalty is not a single day act, it is a life-long process. A lot of efforts and dedication are required. To surpass customer expectations, you need to keep on improving your products and services. After all, quality and performance of the products and services are also one of our ingredients in the recipe of customer loyalty.
To provide unmatched quality and performance, daily improvements are required. Not just in the product or service, but also in the systems and processes of the organization. Keep all your resources including the human resources updated by providing constant training and development.
4.Take feedbacks actively
It is very important to know what your customers think of your company and your products and services. Then only would you be able to improve your products and services and satisfy and delight your customer. Ask for their honest feedback. Don’t just make them rate your services, ask for their complete opinion. Ask them where you should improve? What they like in your product or service? Why do they buy from you? What are their expectations? What could make them happy?
And not just customers take feedback from your employees as well. They are the ones who interact with the customer. They understand your customers better than you. Empower them to speak up, to express their opinions and ideas. This should not be a “once in a blue moon” activity. It should be a daily exercise. But, don’t just take the feedback, implement it too. Make it a point to inculcate these feedbacks into your products and services.
5.Go out of your way
To retain your customers, you need to go out of your way. Create a comfortable environment for them .Let them know you care. Build long-lasting relations with them. It is not always about earning revenue. Sometimes relations are important than revenues. If for once you cared for your customer more than your revenue, be assured that you have won him forever.
A Ritz Carlton hotel in Bali went all out of their way to get special food for one of their customers’ son from another country as he was allergic to the regular food. They could have simply told them that they do not have that special food. They would not lose that customer as they were not supposed to have it. But understanding their situation, they put in extra efforts to make sure the kid gets his food. Flying someone from another country must have cost them a lot. But, what they earned is priceless. They earned that family’s lifetime loyalty.
To build long term relations with customers, you need to encourage your employees to go out of their way. Protocol is not everything. Sometimes, empathy and understanding give better results. Create a customer centric culture. Make your customers feel that you value them .Let them feel a sense of belongingness, a familiarity and a comfort with you.
When you satisfy and delight your customers, make things convenient and effortless for them, value their opinion, provide them unmatched quality and performance and go that extra mile for them, you have got yourself the perfect dish of customer loyalty.
Do try this recipe at your business!!!
Wishing you Peace and Abundance…