Attracting and maintaining customer loyalty is crucial in any business. It takes far more time and money to find a new client than it does to keep an old one. A successful company typically sees 80 percent of its business come from 20 per cent of its customers (The Pareto Principle). Existing, satisfied clients are also the greatest source for referrals. Treat them right, provide excellent service and word will spread. Word of the mouth is also the most efficient method of acquiring new leads and prospects. Customer loyalty should therefore be well covered in any business plan and you should take the time to develop a loyalty marketing strategy.
Rule one is to treat customers the way you want to be treated. Respect your customer; be reliable, flexible and consistent. Get to know them, find out about, and remember their likes and dislikes, treat them as a friend and you will reap the dividends.
Communication is crucial, ensure that all lines of communication are open and well-staffed. Don’t be unavailable and don’t let your services get sloppy just because you’re dealing with a well-established client. Go the extra mile for customers and they will remember and keep on coming back for more.
Use newsletters, Christmas cards, social media and direct mail to keep in touch. They all serve as evidence that they’re front of your mind and that you’re prepared to go the extra mile to keep them satisfied.
Reward your existing clients, incentivise them to stay. Send them freebies, give them discounts and special services. Establish loyalty schemes and invite them to parties, events, lunches and drinks. All these things go a long way, people do business with people they like, that, as much as any other factor is key.
Make sure your employees are personable and competent. They represent the company and in many cases they, to all intents and purposes, are the company. Make sure they are trained and incentivised to do their jobs properly and to provide excellent and personal customer service.
Resolving customer complaints is a strategic silver lining and among the best ways to earn loyalty. Sincere, well-handled apologies give customers the chance to connect emotionally. Correct mistakes, (over) compensate, apologise and learn from the experience. Customers will notice and appreciate this.
Always ask for feedback wherever possible, send out surveys with attached incentives (charitable donations, etc). This is a positive action and will allow you to get to know your customer better.
Customers are the lifeblood of all business, make keeping them happy and impressed with your services and staff a priority and they will reward you with loyalty and keep on coming back for more. While it may sound simple in practice many fail.
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