Loyal customers are like gifts that keep on giving. They return to your store time and time again not only for the product or service but the experience that comes along with it. These types of customers don’t start off ready to bestow a boatload of loyalty to you. Building customer loyalty is a process that takes time and effort.
Where do I even start, you ask? The answer to that is a foolproof customer loyalty programme.
What is a Customer Loyalty Programme?
A customer loyalty programme is based on the concept of recognition and reward. By offering a loyalty programme, you’re sending a message to customers that you recognise their support, and you’d like to give them something valuable in return to show your appreciation.
While it’s one of the more traditional marketing methods, a customer loyalty programme is a powerful tool that helps build relationships with those who support your business, and it’s still very much in use today.
The best part about these programmes is that there are so many types to choose from and the choice is all yours! From point systems, exclusive perks, and discounts, you are free to choose or design a programme that suits your business (and budget, of course).
Why is Customer Loyalty So Important in Business?
It’s a well-known fact that it is far more difficult to win over a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. But why is that the case?
New customers typically wouldn’t have had much exposure to your brand before. They haven’t had a chance to experience the quality of your products or services and formulate an opinion about your business.
On the other side of the coin, existing customers already know that they can trust you to deliver quality products or services, and they know what to expect every time they walk into your store. Remember, trust breeds loyalty. So putting your best foot forward at all times is key to a thriving business with loyal customers.
Now that you know what a customer loyalty programme is and why customer loyalty is so important, let’s get into how to practically build your business using this trusted marketing tool.
How to Build Customer Loyalty
Here are 4 effective ways to keep customers coming back for more:
1. Offer customer rewards programmes
One of the most popular customer rewards programmes is the points system. This system basically awards points to customers every time they buy from you. Once your customers have built up a decent number of points, they can be redeemed in-store by using them to pay for their next purchase or they can qualify for discounts.
The great part about this type of programme is that it's just as useful for smaller businesses like your dog’s vet down the road as it is for major supermarkets with branches across the country. If it works for them, there’s no doubt that it’ll work for you too!
2. Prioritise customer care
While the customer may not always be right, it’s crucial to always have a certain level of respect for them. Through effectively managing client relationships, you can deliver focused solutions that best serve the needs of your customers.
To get started, make an effort to learn about the different types of customers you have. What are their buying habits? Which products or services do they particularly like? If you’ve received feedback from them, take into consideration what they’ve suggested or perhaps complained about. The key here is to use this information to improve your customer service.
3. Adopt a referral programme
Nothing builds brand awareness like good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. While it isn’t wise to merely assume that loyal customers are telling all their friends and neighbours about the great experience they had at your store, there is a way to put matters into your own hands: introducing referral programmes!
This particular loyalty programme rewards customers who recommend you to their connections. But you’ve got to give in order to receive. The reward needs to be enticing enough to encourage them to recommend you. The rewards could be things like discounts, vouchers, and other exclusive perks.
4. Build emotional relationships
If you notice a new customer slowly turning into a familiar face in your store, make an effort to strike up a conversation with them. Greet them with a friendly smile and ask them how they’re doing. Chances are that they’ll reciprocate and once you’ve got a conversation going, you’ll start to learn more about who they are.
For example, a mom comes into your store looking for a particular brand of chocolate milk for her kid. Once you've started a conversation with her, she tells you that her kid has been asking her for this product the entire week. The next time she visits, ask her how her kid is doing, and she’ll love the fact that you remembered your previous conversation with her.
It’s hard to keep track of these things when you have customers walking in and out of your store so often, but once you start making a concerted effort to connect with your customers, it won’t be that difficult. This is how you foster relationships and build a community of people who would go out of their way to support you.
Head here for more business tips: 8 Common Small Business Growing Pains (and How to Overcome Them)
Build Loyalty to Start Being Treated Like Royalty
Having a loyal customer base is about more than just sales at the end of the day. It helps you establish your business in the community and naturally, you’ll gain traction. All it takes to start is one step in the right direction - and we can’t think about a better first step than to launch your very own customer loyalty programme!