Customer loyalty programs are a great way for many businesses to attract new customers and retain existing ones. According to Jupiter Research, over 75 percent of American consumers surveyed said they carry at least one loyalty card.
For some businesses, the decision is not whether to offer a customer loyalty program, but which type to offer.
Customer loyalty programs can include offers of free or discounted products and services, rebates and even third party rewards like free travel packages.
But what if your business doesn’t have the financial or human resources needed to run a successful customer loyalty program? You can still build customer loyalty – by earning it. Here are some simple ways to go about it.
Define what customer loyalty is
Begin by defining what customer loyalty looks like for your business. It can take different forms depending on the type of business. For most retail businesses, customer loyalty typically means frequent purchases. For many niche businesses, however, customer loyalty is more likely to manifest itself as referrals.
Get to know your customers
People remain loyal to businesses that satisfy a need. Depending on your business vertical and market, your customers’ needs may include low prices, convenience, after-hours support, flexible payment options, industry knowledge or a host of other factors. Begin by learning what is most important to your existing customers and, if possible, align your business model to meet those specific needs as best you can.
Identify your audience
Most businesses offer a variety of products or services and price them accordingly. Although it’s wise to treat every customer with the same level or service and respect, it’s o.k. to offer additional perks to customers who benefit your business most. These perks can include things like free shipping on orders above a certain dollar amount or discounted rates on longer term agreements. Again, this will depend on your particular type of business and budget.
One of the best and most cost-effective ways to build customer loyalty is by simply communicating with your existing customers. Good customer communication includes answering your business phone promptly and courteously, responding to emails in a timely manner and utilizing social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you own a brick and mortar business, be sure to greet people as they enter your establishment and be attentive to their needs. Make sure your employees receive proper training on the finer points of good customer service.
When was the last time you saw a suggestion box on a checkout counter? Unfortunately, most businesses mistakenly assume their customers are satisfied unless they hear otherwise. Be sure to ask for feedback and suggestions on how your business can better serve your customers. Whether you use email, social media or yes, even an old fashioned suggestion box, your customers’ responses can help you identify new opportunities as well as potential problem areas.