When it comes to boosting your business’s overall profitability, nurturing your relationships with customers and prospects cannot be overstated. If you want to see higher retention rates and more referrals, then building good relationships with your clients is a must. Here are 10 customer loyalty strategies that really work (we know because we’ve tried them).
What Is A Customer Loyalty Strategy?
A customer loyalty strategy is a unified combination of business practices designed to encourage repeat business and long-term customer retention. These typically focus on nurturing relationships with individual customers so they feel emotionally attached to your business. After all, anybody can stop buying from a nameless, faceless corporation. But people tend to be more loyal to local businesses when they feel they have a personal relationship with the staff and owner.
That’s why effective customer loyalty strategies create some of the best long-term increases in your business’s overall profitability, word-of-mouth marketing, and prospects. The fewer customers you lose, and the more who are crazy about your business, the better they are going to feel about it — and that’s a win for you.
So, where should you start?
Personalize Relationship Marketing.
The first on our list of customer loyalty strategies is personalized relationship marketing. That means using marketing content to build meaningful personal relationships with your audience.
This is our specialty here at Newsletter Pro, so we know what a powerful tool this can be for small-business owners. We always ask for personal stories when we write cover articles for our clients’ newsletters. This allows them to slowly build a long-term relationship between their business and the customer. The more that customers read about them and a business owner’s personal life, the closer they feel to them. The owner brands their business with a friendly face, and you can’t put a price on that.
We use this tactic within our own marketing strategy and have had people approach us, saying they feel like they know Shaun Buck, our CEO, personally from reading his books, our newsletter, and his weekend reading columns for years. They love hearing from him, and that personal connection means something to them. It’s a non-transferable asset that basically ensures their eyes won’t wander to another business.
Speaking of the competition …
Differentiate Yourself From The Competition.
As a local business owner, you have an incredible opportunity to corner your community’s market. All you have to do is find out what your competition is doing wrong and do it right.
Let’s say you run a dental practice. You hear 2 main competitors have poor intake processes and uncomfortable, smelly waiting rooms. Now, you can use that information to improve your practice. Prioritize streamlining your intake process and ensure your waiting room is clean and comfortable.
You would be shocked at how much that can set you apart from your competition in a meaningful way. After all, losing a customer only takes a few bad experiences, so going the extra mile to ensure your business is the best option in the area will greatly reduce customer churn.
Offer A Token Of Appreciation.
Everybody likes to feel appreciated, including your customers. One of the easiest but often underutilized customer loyalty strategies on this list is offering “a token of appreciation.” But why is that?
Business owners often shy away from giving something away for free. Sometimes, they would like to give a token of appreciation but don’t know what to do. We’re here to tell you the token doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It can be as small as a piece of candy or a card.
At Newsletter Pro, we always encourage our customers to send out Celebration Cards to commemorate special occasions with their customers. With 68% of people reporting that receiving a greeting card makes them feel like the sender cares about them, cards remain an excellent way to express appreciation for your clients.
No matter what you decide to send, make sure it’s appropriate for the occasion and the industry you are in. Every business is different, so don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and think outside the box.
Prioritize Customer Service.
This may seem obvious, but trust us, it’s not. Business owners are often under the impression they provide good customer service because they stay on top of their phone lines and get back to people promptly. Don’t get us wrong — that is important! Timeliness is one of the ways you let your customers know you value them. However, that’s also just expected. There’s no “wow” factor to answering the phone on time.
In today’s marketing, “decent” customer service will not cut it — and bad customer service will ensure you’re dead in the water. The goal for your business should be to create an exceptional customer service experience. That means setting hardline standards for how you expect employees to behave and sticking to them.
At the minimum, you should ensure:
- Someone is always available to greet your customers as soon as they enter the building
- Your staff always maintains a friendly demeanor (or at least a professional demeanor if a client is very difficult)
- Communications with clients are answered within 24 hours
Beyond that, you can brainstorm ideas to help set your business apart regarding customer service. This can come in the form of perks and benefits or just an overall “can-do” attitude on the part of your team. Just make sure you research what’s standard in your industry, then determine how you can go above and beyond for your clients.
Obviously, you will never please everyone. But by minimizing negative customer service experiences, you will set yourself up for long-term success and customer retention.
Adapt Well To Change.
It’s a tale as old as time — a business was once a leader in its industry only to crumble the second something better came along (think Blockbuster). These businesses were set in their ways and naively thought things would never change. While they were busy navel-gazing, some hot new thing took over the market and left them in the dust.
The same thing can happen to your small business. If you aren’t keeping up with the latest industry trends, you might miss something revolutionary that could make or break your company. Or, at the very least, one of your competitors might get a leg up on you, and that’s not ideal, either.
That’s why it’s essential always to accept and adapt to change gracefully. If a new service is becoming popular in your industry, don’t wait to add it to your offerings until you’re the last one. If a new research development suggests methods you’ve been using don’t work, phase them out. We’re not saying jump on every trend; just to be mindful of what’s coming down the pike. This will ensure you offer the services your customers want and don’t lose them to competitors who pivoted quicker than you.
Be Consistent With Everything You Do.
If you’ve ever had an experience with an inconsistent business, then you know how important it is to maintain high standards all of the time — not just some of the time. Perhaps you’ve been to a restaurant where the food was excellent one night, and the next time you went, it was cold and dry. Or maybe you’ve been to a local boutique where the cashier was friendly and helpful, only to return and be greeted with scowls and hostility. Whatever the case is, the experience probably left you feeling betrayed.
The unfortunate reality is that customers do not easily forgive negative experiences at your business. In fact, 76% of customers report they would give up on a business after just 1 negative experience, and 86% say they will leave a trusted brand after just 2.
But it makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, people typically choose to buy from the same brands repeatedly because they like their experience. They will not consistently fork over cold, hard cash for uncertainty. That’s why ensuring every customer has a predictable, pleasant experience at your business is essential. Otherwise, you can’t be surprised when they walk out the door.
Reach Out To Your Community.
As an old saying goes, “Clients don’t buy what you do. They buy why you’re doing it.” With 71% of consumers preferring to buy from brands that support their values, it’s clear that this one has some truth behind it in terms of potential customer loyalty strategies.
When you reach out to your community to participate in charity events and drives, you’re helping your community and demonstrating your business’s values. It’s an excellent opportunity to get your staff and customers involved in something that makes a real difference in people’s lives.
Always Add Value.
This philosophy’s root is this: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Out of all the customer loyalty strategies on this list, this one is one of the most neglected.
Many business owners believe that to have a “consistent marketing strategy,” they must constantly reach out to customers and prospects. While consistency is key in marketing, they often prioritize quantity over quality. This results in their creating hundreds of useless emails and social media posts their customers hate and don’t read. At best, this form of communication is mildly annoying, and at worst, people unfollow and unsubscribe.
Here’s a simple rule to follow in marketing. If you’re not adding value, don’t send it. It’s really as simple as that.
However, when it comes to customer loyalty, strategies for adding excess value go a long way. You create an amazing opportunity to engage with your audience if you add consistent value outside of your services through interesting or educational content. That’s one of the benefits of the newsletters we create for our clients — they provide their audience with something they want other than the services they already get.
Over time, that translates to higher retention rates, and it’s no wonder why. You establish yourself as an authority within your industry by consistently sharing useful information with your audience. That, in turn, fosters trust. When your clients trust you as an expert in your field, they are more likely to stay with you long-term. After all, they know you know what you’re talking about, and they likely can’t say the same for your competitors.
Ask For Feedback (And Act On It).
If you want to be the leader of your local niche industry, you’ll have to spend time thinking soberly about what’s been done wrong in the past. Sometimes, that means putting your ego aside and asking for criticism. How can you improve if you don’t know the areas where you are falling short?
Maintaining a mindset of constant improvement is one of the best long-term customer loyalty strategies because it ensures your customers always feel heard. Instead of leaving quietly because they have unaddressed concerns, they can vocalize and see real change. That’s huge.
Reward Loyalty Well.
If you have customers who have been with you for a very long time, reward their loyalty! Whether you start by setting up a rewards program or offering free services on anniversaries with your company, become a good steward of your customers’ business. Otherwise, they might leave to seek a company that appreciates their loyalty more.
We hope this list was beneficial wherever you are in your relationship marketing journey. Remember, with the proper customer loyalty strategies, you can set up your business for more referrals and higher retention rates.
Want to learn more about how personalized relationship marketing can help your business? Fill out the form below to download our free Nurture Report!