Eight key tips for building and sustaining customer loyalty
By pa360, Sep 6 2015 02:50PM
Every entrepreneur wants a loyal customer base. The dream is to have patrons who choose to come back again & again and who, over time, develop a personal identification with the product or service that they use. However, if it were as simple as that, everyone would be doing it – but it is not. Building and sustaining customer loyalty is painstaking work. It requires a high-level of commitment and the rewards can quickly disappear if you take your eye off the ball.
That said, there are specific things that entrepreneurs can do to build and crucially sustain, customer loyalty. Set out below are eight key tips that can be applied by any business or enterprise.
1. Develop relationships not engagements - the reason why people return again and again to the same product or service is because, over time, they develop a close relationship with that product or service. Unlike casual engagements or interactions, relationships are established through credibility, confidence and trust. To build the relationship value of your product, you must first recognise the relationship value in your product.
2. Use what you learn to improve what you do – the fluid and fast-moving pace of today’s commercial market-place dictates that if you are not moving forward you are moving backwards. Entrepreneurs are always seeking for the competitive edge that will attract new customers and ultimately increase their market share. To stay relevant, you need to constantly surf the curve of innovation. Don’t just do it to be bigger, do it to be better.
3. Never compromise on quality – if you produce high quality products, customers will not only buy them, they will tell others who will buy them as well. The credibility that comes with word of mouth advertising is not only priceless to you, it is also absolutely free. Don’t be tempted to cut costs or corners; maintain a relentless focus on making a great product.
4. Make it personal and make it convenient - personalisation and convenience are the new ‘Klondike’ of product innovation. Customers want products that speak to them and can be tailored to their specific needs and lifestyle preference. The greater the convenience the more likely you are to create ‘life goods’ rather than consumer goods.
5. Fix it when it goes wrong - if you have parted with your cash to purchase a product or service it is reasonable to expect that product to meet your expectations. But what happens if it doesn’t? For customers, the next best thing is for the producer or supplier to rectify the problem quickly and effectively. As a supplier, you need to pay just as much attention to rectifying a product ‘fail’ as you do to securing a product ‘sale’.
6. See your customers as a community – your customers all have something in common: the fact that they use your product. You need to build on that commonality by cultivating your customer community. I am struck by how phenomenally successful Apple have been at turning their customer base into a thriving community of the like-minded. Think about what drives community: culture, shared values etc and start to mould these characteristics around your product.
7. Give your product an effective social media platform – a social media presence is the price of admission if you want to be taken seriously in the commercial market-place. But you need to have more than a presence, you need an effective presence. The social media market-place is absolutely saturated with vendors of every description and the noise can be deafening. To be heard above the din, you need to be saying something that no-one has heard before.
8. Don’t re-invent the wheel – observe the practices and behaviours of those who seem to have cracked it and look to replicate the best market standards in your area of operation. Better than that, look to improve on the best market standards. Don’t re-invent the wheel, but be prepared to raise the bar.
It bears remembering that the pivot for customer loyalty is the product. If you have a great product, half the battle is won. A great product means that customers will come; but if you cultivate great relationships, customers will stay.