How to Build Customer Loyalty (Part II)

The COVID-19 pandemic was a test of consumer loyalty as it forced consumers to honestly evaluate which companies they trusted, claims Bill Zinke, Senior Vice President of Marketing at BELFOR Franchise Group. “So, one of the key lessons from the pandemic has been [that], in good times, building customer loyalty can help you grow faster and more profitably, and in tough or challenging times, it can be the difference between surviving and going out of business,” he explains. Customer loyalty is thus fundamental to the very existence of business and its successful growth. Building customer loyalty is a challenging process that requires a lot of effort and strategic thinking. To guide you through this process, here is the second part of the list of key steps that you should follow:

Read How to Build Customer Loyalty: Key Steps (Part I).

Step 6: Encourage customers to become brand ambassadors. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to increase sales. The customers that share on social media how much they love certain brands help promote them. To better utilize their marketing potential, try to interact with them more often and introduce an exclusive referral programme. Not only do referral programmes increase brand appeal to existing customers, but they also incentivize them to promote the brand. Brand ambassadors can significantly increase the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing and customer retention.  

Step 7: Create a brand community. As customer experience is strengthening its position as a key brand differentiator, make sure your customers are continuously having pleasant interactions with your brand. Once you find out the expectations of your target audience, create an online group where you can share your brand’s novelties and special offers, and where group members can share tips, insights, questions and experiences with each other. To encourage people to join your group, give them access to product drops, special pricing or training opportunities, to name a few. At some point, community membership will result in brand loyalty, once your followers start tagging you without starting a campaign. 

Step 8: Build trust. The 2020 Edelman report on brand trust shows that 70% of consumers think that trusting a brand is more important today than ever before. 53% of them admit that trusting “the company that owns the brand or brand that makes the product” is the second most important factor – after price (64%) – while purchasing a new product. To build brand trust, focus on transparency and open communication. Customers recognize that a company’s values and its actions are aligned once they see that the company admits its mistakes, proves that it is a customer-centric business, and that it really takes care of its employees. Also remember to establish a social media presence where customers feel comfortable leaving their feedback, inquiries or concerns, and know that they will be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. 

Step 9: Engage customers on social media. Social media is an effective means to build relationships with customers. In fact, if you are not active on social media enough, many consumers will think of you as irrelevant. To build an active business profile on different social media platforms, interact with your followers and share behind-the-scenes information about your brand. That will help you build an online community that encourages customers to come back. It is also useful to check the profiles of the companies that you often do business with to see how they act on social media. Pay special attention to how their posts resonate with their target audience, how they align their brand voice with their values and offerings, and how they engage their followers, to name a few. 

Step 10: Reward your customers. A customer reward programme can either be in the form of a goal that customers work towards or a pleasant surprise. For example, an offer like “Buy 10 items of something, get the 11th for free” motivates customers to buy from you again and again. A pleasant surprise like giving free shipping for orders exceeding a certain amount creates a pleasant shopping experience, and can encourage customers to choose you over your competitors next time. It is also important to emphasize the importance of putting an expiration date on your rewards so that customers feel urgency to buy from you before the deadline.    

References:  Sean Peek, | Vibhanshu Dixit, | Michael Keenan, | Ana Darstaru, | Scott Clark, | Edelman, Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 |