How to create loyal customers
Building a loyal customer base takes more than just offering a low price.
Should you drop your prices to get loyal customers? Not so fast.
Here are three strategies for building customer loyalty — and it's not all about price.
Customer loyalty tip #1: Understand your customers' needs
Before you can deliver the right products or services at the right price, you have to understand customer needs. Determine not only the product or service they are looking for, but also what is important to them: What are their likes and interests? What kind of jobs do they have? What are their challenges? Where do they turn for support?
One way to gain deep customer insights is to offer a loyalty program.1 Ask buyers to provide information about themselves as part of a customer profile. This can include everything from basic demographic information to transactional histories to product and service preferences. Once you have this information, target your customers with offers that meet their specific needs, helping to ensure their satisfaction and loyalty.
Customer loyalty tip #2: Provide superior service
Some companies are legendary for providing top-notch customer service. The Nordstrom department store chain is well known for its friendly employees that offer personal customer attention and its no-receipt-necessary return policy.
Another business known for its excellent customer service is online shoe and apparel store Zappos. It allows customers to return a pair of shoes up to 365 days after the purchase. Zappos goes to extremes to provide superior service. It once overnight shipped a free pair of shoes to a best man who had arrived shoeless at a wedding.
While you don't have to go to these extremes to provide great customer service, you can take small steps to make your customers feel valued after the sale:
Graciously accept returns.
Send a thank-you email after a purchase.
Offer customers a discount on their next purchase.
Customer loyalty tip #3: Be responsive to complaints
Not every customer is a satisfied one. Here are simple steps to convert an unhappy customer into a loyal advocate for your business:
Make the customer feel heard. Listen to his or her concerns, and ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the problem.
Respond to the customer by making things right. For example, unconditionally accept a return, or provide a simple acknowledgment that he or she had an unsatisfactory experience.
Share the information about the customer's unpleasant experience with others in your business so they can monitor the situation and make sure it doesn't happen again.
These small steps will help breed loyalty and make your customers more likely to share with their family and friends the positive experiences they enjoyed with your business.
1 Source: Forrester Research, "Drive Smarter Customer Loyalty With Customer Intelligence."