Remember the days when customers would walk into your store to buy products? If you were a small operation, it didn’t take much effort to strike up a conversation with Joe, to find out what mattered the most to him and his family. Joe would always come back to you with unwavering customer loyalty, even if a better deal were just down the way.
Why? Because of the relationship established with your company.
While similar cases as mentioned above exist on a smaller scale, things are now vastly different from a decade ago.
With the rise in popularity of eCommerce, and with the dominance of major players like Amazon, it is now harder to capture the attention of your customers.
Business owners have to become smarter, and more adapted to the current trends in technology to move their companies towards profitability, and sustainability.
The entire Brick and Mortar model is entering a transformation, and the only option is to adapt to the digital age.
Some businesses are finding it difficult to survive, and the job of retaining customers isn’t a smooth process.
Here are five ways feasible ways to build better customer loyalty, which in turn can increase your profits.
1. Listen To Your Customers
We’ve all heard the old saying that “The customer is always right” I’ve learned that phrase at the age of 16 when I was hired for my first job at one of the most popular grocery stores in Canada.
While the idea of “The customer is always right” was an excellent model for some companies decades ago, that necessarily isn’t the case in 2018.
That entire phrase originated in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, who used that mantra in his department store in London.
The hard truth is that “The customer isn’t always right.” I’m not saying they are always wrong either, but instead, as a business owner, take the time to listen to what they want.
Set clear and realistic expectations of your products and services. It’s not uncommon for customers to take advantage of a company because of the mindset, “Hey they make a lot of money”, they feel the right to abuse the system.
Not only is that incredibly stressful to your employees who have to bend to every wind of doctrine from an angry customer who feels they should always get a discount because they got one before, but it can hurt your brand image.
What do your customers value the most? Price, selection, quality? Do they prefer a particular type of product over the other, or do they come to you because of your knowledge in the field?
The only way to find the answer to these questions is to ask.
It’s easy to throw up a short survey on your website to find out what your customers think. People love answering questions, especially when it’s about them and their interests.
2.Create Valuable Products
Let’s face it; if you are not producing the type of quality that warrants customer retention, then you are missing the mark.
If you are struggling to attract the right clients, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your product offerings. It might be as simple as a slight tweak here, and there, or a complete redesign.
Maybe you are an elite company that manufacturers and produces world-class solutions on a global scale.
Why not move the bar further and use R&D capital to push innovation? The best companies don’t just sit on their heels feeling high off last year’s success; they improve on a quarterly or yearly basis.
Take Apple for example. They create an ecosystem around desirable products that always seem to sell exceptionally well.
Moreover, you know what that ecosystem does? It makes it harder for customers to leave.
You can’t just buy an Apple Watch and use it with any other smartphone; you need an iPhone for that.
Your Macbook, iPhone, iPad, and EarPods all work seamlessly together. If you are among the many with all of those devices, you’ve spent thousands on an ecosystem that now becomes a bit expensive to leave.
Think about how you can chain-link your valuable products and services together to make a complete experience for your customer, and they will be coming back for more.
3. Stay Relevant
Keep up on industry trends, and stay in the loop. If your business involves you driving to your client’s locations and you use PowerPoint for presentations, maybe it’s time to reconsider the entire process.
Hardly anyone I know uses PowerPoint, and with the power of the Internet, you can have a meeting with just about anyone in the world without leaving your office. Take advantage of the many tools available to get the job done quickly.
If your core audience is on LinkedIn and not Facebook, does it make sense to spend your time and effort on Facebook?
Use social media if it makes sense to your company, and if it does, spend large amounts of time in conversations with your audience.
Know what matters the most, and what doesn’t. Just about everyone has social media, and you can bet your bottom dollar that your customer is on there.
If you don’t take the time to engage with your audience on these platforms, your competitors will, and that could make the difference between a profitable business and one that’s not.
You don’t have to be on all the social media platforms, focus on the one or two sites where your audience spends their time, and stay in the loop on what’s hot in your industry.
4. Show The Human Side Of Your Brand
This is one area, where I’m big on. Think about the long-term impact when an employee goes the extra mile for your customer.
Maybe you are in the SaaS market, and your client can’t figure out how to set things up. Do you have your customer support send a link to an FAQ page to solve the issue, or jump on the phone for a quick call to sort things out?
People want to deal with other people. Yes, I know how cool it sounds to have AI do the tedious parts of a job, but when it comes to customer care, should you leave that up to a robot?
I hate it when I call up my wireless carrier, only to be greeted by a damn machine that wants me to speak my answers slowly and clearly.
“Aint nobody got time for that.”
Please give me a live agent right away so I can be on my way. My time is a valuable asset, and I’m not too fond of it when it’s wasted.
Seek out ways you can further connect with your customers. Can you follow-up with an email or phone call?
Alternatively, how about just a friendly message thanking them for their business. Gratitude goes a long way, and you’d be surprised at the results.
5. Be Honest
If you listen to anything in this blog posts, and can only remember one thing, let it be this.
Honesty goes a long way in winning customer loyalty.
I don’t care if you make the best products and services with amazing prices paired with fantastic customer service.
Nobody wants to be lied to, or feel cheated out on in a deal, and that’s the truth.
Examine your business model and make any changes where you see yourself falling short of this principle no matter the financial costs.
A great example is with Samsung. They are a company that values all of these principles we’ve been talking about.
In 2016, they launched the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. Soon after launch, there were reports from all over the globe of these devices catching on fire, and exploding in certain situations.
Upon later investigations, it was determined that the entire lineup of Note 7s were unsafe due to the battery which Samsung initially thought wasn’t the culprit.
Samsung is a company that manufacturers smartphones by the millions, so you can imagine the scope of the problem.
So instead the company claimed full responsibility and had to recall the entire Note 7 line.
At the Note 8 launch event the following year, Samsung Mobile CEO D.J Koh humbly asked for forgiveness in front of investors and a worldwide audience. Mr. Koh admitted the mistakes that were made by his company, and promised to fix the issues moving forward with a new quality control process.
The whole fiasco costed them dearly, to the tune of some $3.1 billion.
Fast-forward to 2018, and the Galaxy Note 9 is arguably the best smartphone that a $1,000 can buy and receives praises from the entire tech community.
Yes, we are in the era of $1k smartphones, but that’s another topic for another time.
Being honest and trustworthy is a critical character trait more valuable than revenue. Be quick to admit your mistakes, apologize and create a fix. Your customers will have far more respect for your business in the long run and it will be seen as an entity that can be trusted.
It doesn’t take much to build your brand loyalty, but it takes a deliberate effort. These five examples aren’t hard to carry out either. Take the time to think about your customer’s needs, and how best to deliver a quality experience.
Customer Loyalty can mean the difference between sustainability and being forgotten. Start thinking of ways to improve your business and how best to align your core vision with your clients. It will be the best thing you can do.