The emergence of group buying sites and the emphasis on a cheap deal is making it increasingly difficult for businesses to engender loyalty. But there are tools to help you keep customers coming back.
What is loyalty?
Loyalty can mean something different to each business, so the first step is to understand what it means to you and how it applies to your business. Is it merely customer satisfaction? Is it improving customer retention?
Loyalty could be defined as your customers spending more money with your business, or it could mean wanting them to spend more frequently. It could also mean you want your customers to refer others to your business.
Saunders says that customers are far less inclined to put up with anything that isn’t authentic as brands proliferate. “You’ve got to make sure that you treat customers as people and not as numbers in a database. It’s all about having relevant conversations and relevant offers for your consumers.”
Retail expert Brian Walker of The Retail Doctor says trust plays a big part in whether a consumer will be loyal to a business. “To trust a business, a consumer needs to know that it will do what it says it’s going to do and that there is consistency in the offering,” Walker says.
“We also find that loyalty is rewarded when the experience is truly unique for the consumer. Also, businesses that consistently offer exemplary service often find it easier to engender loyalty.”
And businesses that take the trouble to get to know their customer and undertake micro-marketing have far more success, he says.
The first steps
Businesses looking for ways to win the loyalty of consumers should firstly ascertain what aspects of their business works well, and what doesn’t.
Bateman admits loyalty can be a difficult thing to measure. “You need to think about your product and try and understand how it offers a solution to your consumers. If it’s a service for example, what are people trying to get out of your offering?” Bateman says.
Randomly selecting customers and questioning them on their thoughts of your business could be a good start. He also suggests organising a mystery shopper or an exit survey.
“True customer research just isn’t in the budget for many businesses, but it should be,” he says.
Next, conduct some of your own research by looking at how businesses within your sector approach the issue of loyalty, says Walker.
Based on the pitfalls in your offering and your own research, start formulating your plan. Walker says be specific when putting pen to paper during the planning stage. “You need to make sure you’re precise about what you want to achieve.”
Larger businesses should consider investing in a dedicated loyalty manager to look at this side of the business, he says.
“And businesses should always be looking to improve their offering and should never presume that your customers are happy.”
ASK LISTEN RETAIN Program
Remember, we ASK the important questions, you LISTEN to the results and you RETAIN loyal customers for a lifetime!
If you would like to know more about how the ASK LISTEN RETAIN System or how it can help create customer retention and loyalty, please contact us.