Build customer loyalty with these 9 tips

What have companies done to earn your loyalty? Here are nine different ways to retain your customers.

I had a very interesting experience the other day on how to build customer loyalty. I wanted to try a new blogging tool. I was doing some research and found a tool that offers a free trial with no credit card required. I decided to give it a shot. I installed the plugin and went to the site and started clicking. Shortly after, I received an email – from the CEO!

Now, let’s be clear, this is not a small business I’m talking about. Admittedly it’s not Apple either, but it’s a well-known brand and I’m guessing the CEO must have done something online this weekend because I had a chance to email him . The whole conversation started with an automated email asking for my feedback. I replied and every email after that was a personalized response in response to my questions.

How Businesses Can Build Customer Loyalty

It got me thinking about all the companies I’ve worked with and used over the years and what they’ve actually done to earn my loyalty. I created this list and thought I would share it with you.

  • Be mobile. With over 4 billion mobile devices, chances are your customers will use a mobile device to interact with you. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.
  • Probe them, but not too much. The simple act of surveying customers puts you in the lead, and your customers are therefore more likely to buy. But another benefit of surveying your customers is that it’s a great way to educate them about your products, services, and what sets you apart from the competition.
  • Create a personalized experience. Personalization is a big trend. To deliver great customer service, research what really matters to your customers. Don’t hide behind technology, use it to get closer to your customer and thus build loyalty.
  • Engage with incentives. Too many companies take it easy by defaulting to incentives like iPads or gift cards. While that’s certainly nice, you might end up getting engagement from people who are more interested in the incentive and less interested in what you’re offering. Get creative and look for incentives that not only showcase your product or support, but provide real customer benefit, like letting your best customers skip the line, or hosting a fancy event for your customers where you showcase your latest and best. If you’re selling a physical product, send your customers free samples before you launch it to someone else. Make them feel special.
  • Socialize. Don’t settle for what everyone else does by default. Take a close look at the social media channels your customers engage with the most and be there too. Interact with your customers as people, not just credit card numbers. And don’t just use social media to respond to negative customers – appreciate your fans!
  • Develop rewards programs with engagement levels. Would you believe that a paid membership program could actually increase customer loyalty? I read that a local restaurant actually offered three levels of membership that customers could purchase. Inside each package were coupons, offers and invitations to events. When members came to use their rewards, they actually brought friends – who – you guessed it – also bought a package.
  • Focus on employees. There are actually two schools of thought: one says to focus on the customer and give it your all. It’s a great strategy and the one I present here. But there is another school of thought: focus on the employees and they will naturally provide great service. There are many examples of employee-centric companies. Southwest Airlines is one of them. If that’s too much for you, start by allowing them to be flexible with policies. Train your employees, give them guidelines and a structure within which they can operate, and then let them be. If you want to know more about it, read “I love you more than my dogby Jeanne Bliss.
  • Know your products and services inside and out. It may seem obvious to you, but how many times have you walked into a store and asked an associate a question only to get a blank stare? I used to shop at a local bookstore called Books & Co. Everyone who worked there was a real book lover and it wasn’t at all unusual to get into a pretty deep conversation with one of associates while walking the aisles. These people were practically librarians.
  • Be your word. It’s one thing to give your word, to do what you said you would do. It’s definitely a great trait. But being your word is a little different. Being your word is more about living your brand.

I always like to say that marketing isn’t about what you do, it’s about who you are. In today’s world, sympathy is better than ability.

Given the choice, people would much rather buy from people they like. They are more willing to forgive small mistakes and pull even big ones. When people like you, they want to spend time with you and money with you. Use these nine tips to build customer and brand loyalty and you’ll not only increase your sales, but you’ll also have a lot more fun at work.

Joseph P. Harris