Picture this: You’re at the supermarket, looking for what pasta to buy, and you’re faced with a wall of different brands and packagings. What happens next is a story too known to be told. You start comparing the colors, sizes, prices and even gluten-index of every box -and waste 10 minutes before you leave with a package of rice.
Now, imagine another scenario: You already ate a specific pasta in the past, which you absolutely loved. When you arrive at the supermarket, you don’t think twice and go straight to the shelf and pick it up. This happened because you became loyal to this brand. And this is exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your own customers.
In simple terms, customer loyalty can be defined by the long-term preference of buying your product or service over other choices, based on a previously positive experience. At a deeper level, this positive experience can be built on fulfilled expectations, exceptional customer support, emotional satisfaction and overall value - or some mix of these various factors.
The value of customer loyalty for a business is huge, as it’s way less expensive to sell to an existing client rather than to convert a new one. Walt Disney used to illustrate the power of customer loyalty in one sentence:
"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends."
With so many competitive brands out there, customers are faced with an abundance of options and information at their fingertips. Chances are, they are less likely to stick with one brand - this is why loyalty is so challenging these days. To help you out, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the most effective ways to build customer loyalty, and turn your clients into your most outspoken ambassadors:
Personalize your customer service
An Accenture study found that 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better. It may seem obvious to you, but adding a customer’s first name to an email can be that one simple step to create a human connection with those that use your product or service. To strengthen this idea, here are some additional ways to personally capture your audience:
Educational recommendations: One of the greatest and most effective features of Netflix is its content recommendation algorithm. Not only does it leave you constantly wanting more, it also provides a curated list based on what you previously watched to help you choose your next movie. The same goes for your customers: You should always be one step ahead to impress them. So, be proactive and provide them (through targeted emails, social media and more) with educational recommendations based on their own preferences and needs - such as knowledge base articles and other how-to guides - in order to enhance their experience.
Interactive support: For instance, if your business has an online store, you may want to consider adding a live chat to your website in order to answer any burning questions from buyers before checkout. Part of loyalty is exceeding customer expectations and providing immediate support - you’ll be helping users out with their problems before they snowball into larger issues.
Show your real face: Just like a face-to-face interaction at work, you’ll want to show who you are when supporting your customers. In your help desk software, you’ll be able to upload an image avatar when communicating with your clients. The same goes for your social media accounts or blog avatar. While there is an abundance of interesting (to say the least) stock images, using an actual image of yourself will strengthen the human feel of the conversation.
Pro tip: Want to take it to the next step? Keep your clients on their feet by applying the secrets of storytelling to your customer interactions.
Measure, analyze, optimize, and repeat
If you’re serious about growth, you need to listen closely to the other (and major) half of your business: your clients. Customer feedback not only provides valuable insights into what works well and what needs improvement, but the simple act of asking for your clients’ opinion exhibits your willingness for change.
Measure: A good start is to review your companies customer service KPI’s (key performance indicators) to evaluate your support efforts. These important ingredients can be collected through organized surveys or questionnaires. One common way of measuring your customer satisfaction KPI is by sending a survey scaled 1 to 10 such as: “How likely would you recommend this brand to a friend?” or “How satisfied are you with the service we provide?” Another successful method is to send a short survey after a customer has finished a ticket or call.
Analyze: After you’ve received a nice sample size of surveys, it’s important to take time to organize and understand the data. Common trends can start from small actional items to drastic changes in your entire company workflow.
Optimize: While many companies do send surveys, most do not follow-up with respondents. If the data tells the truth, let your customers know by improving your retention strategies, for example. It’s crucial for companies to collect feedback from their customers, but even more so, gather and implement product changes based on it.
Final tip: Be patient! Optimizing through rigorous measurement takes time, and you might only see the fruits of it in the long-run. Moreover, gaining insights through customer feedback is a never-ending cycle, which means that you’ll have to repeat the process over and over again. Yet, it’s totally worth the investment as you’ll see your business grow much faster and stronger in the down the road.
Gain trust through transparency
Like a relationship with your significant other, customers want brands to be open and honest when it comes to providing them with information. For businesses, the thought of losing existing and potential clients through bad news can simply scare them out of their seats. In fact, a study conducted by Label Insight found that 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency. Use proactive actions such as sending an automated email on a regular basis to check-in, or creating a known issue article for others to follow and gain trust and respect from your company. Whatever the case may be, listen to those experiencing the issue and put yourself in their shoes.
We’ve all seen those unbelievable flight prices to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe at a strangely low-cost. The catch? You’ll need to pay for your seat selection, baggage fees and any last-minute changes. One company Southwest Airlines understood the dissatisfaction among customers. They launched a marketing ploy coining their own term “Transfarency” (transparency + fare) that focuses on full pricing transparency to its customers. The airline received kudos of approval from their fans on social media. In particular, one woman sung praises on Twitter when she had to change her flight last minute (no charge) to attend a memorial service for a loved one.
Produce and serve customers with valuable content
Adding more value to the table than your competitors can only make you more attractive to customers. Instead of constantly trying to hard sell your product, consider producing fresh, original and valuable content that is tailored to your community’s needs.
Here are three types of content you can offer in that sense:
Above and beyond assistance: Through your help desk software, you can provide your clients with the information they need to get out of a difficult situation with your product or service. The best tool? A curated knowledge base filled with Q&As and smart suggestions to help customers elevate their experience with your product.
Educational material: On top of showing your clients you’re an expert in your field, you can empower them and demonstrate your willingness to work hard. To do so, find for them the best information to grow. Educating your customers through informative tools - such as, webinars, a customer service blog and how-to videos - can enable them to think more creatively, as well as add supplemental value to their experience.
Entertaining content: Show your fun side by sharing eye-catching content on your social media channels. For a company who is customer crazy, Wix frequently posts user-generated content (UGC) on their social media channels (have a look at their superstar Facebook page) to reward and empower those using their product. Other types of visually pleasing content include infographics, videos, polls and GIFs. Read on to the next section where you’ll find ways to thank and spotlight your customers.
By analyzing commonly asked questions and issues from your help desk software, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of content to post. Lastly, make sure to utilize all the platforms you have to share this type of content marketing from your blog to your social media channels.
Give thanks without saying “thank you”
You obtained their trust and hard-earned money. They believe in you and share this feeling with their friends. Now you feel it’s time to reciprocate, and there are many memorable ways to do so. Of course, it's always crucial to add a “thank you” whenever you have the chance - even if it's after a conflict or a bad customer experience. But as John F. Kennedy put it: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Here are some extra ways to show concrete appreciation to your customers:
Customer testimonials: Humans always want to be sure that they’re making the right decision. They will do whatever it takes to do so, whether it’s through asking 10 friends or reading client reviews from different sources. One surefire way of showing and persuading potential customers to buy your products is by showcasing customer testimonials on a dedicated page on your website. Not only will you reassure new clients, but you will also put the existing ones on a pedestal.
Feature customers on social media: We found at Wix that the best way to highlight them wasn’t through stories, but through showcasing original content created by them, from stunning art to delicious food and outstanding products. Basically: we show what they do. For example, look at this Wix Facebook post where we featured user Elebea with one of her clever illustrations. If your product is segmented into different user groups (i.e. designers, bloggers, social media managers) create witty visuals, like this Wix Twitter post.
Offer an upgrade or promotion on the house: We all love surprises, which is why offering an out-of-the-blue upgrade or promo code courtesy of your company can be a delightful customer experience. Just like airline companies have been doing for a decade with frequent flyer programs, you also gain brand ambassadors with praise.
For example, you may be a company running QA automations for other B2Bs, but you’ll have an abundance of knowledge and ideas to share with your clientbase. Of course, product updates on your Twitter feed are helpful for customers and potential clients to stay in the loop and show your progression. Yet, showcasing user stories and creating an overall feeling and emotion can help you reach a larger audience.
Meet them in person
With Internet-based tools like Slack, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to appreciate the swiftness of communication, no matter where you are in the world. The only missing element? The human touch.
Meeting your customers may not be time-efficient and convenient while juggling your business. But, going physically cross-country to show your clients that they mean a great deal to you is important for making a lasting impression and relationship with them.
Here are a couple of examples of how you can meet customers face-to-face:
Business trips: Instead of having that Skype call with your client from behind your desk, try coordinating casual sit-downs with them after you’ve attended a conference, for example. Customers know you’re busy, but what they will appreciate is your endeavours.
Organized meetups: Chances are your clientbase shares similar interests with your product. These kind of community meetups give customers an opportunity to band together and voice their opinions about your product. The format of these meetings can be presented in a Q&A session or a presentation. You’ll not only be part of a larger community, you’ll be an active member participating and networking with what could be potential clients.
Provide exceptional customer service
There are two roads that always run parallel to one another: loyalty and customer service. When a client reaches out to your brand for assistance, their judgement clock starts to tick to see if they stay or abandon ship. In fact, a recent study stated that 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money doing business with a company that delivers great service.
This is why great customer service should be a top priority for your retention strategy plan, as clients are attracted to those serious about it. But how do you reach excellent customer service? Here’s a few fundamental tips to guide you in the right direction:
Train your customer support teams: Properly training your support representatives is a must to have them ready to tackle any issue at hand. After all, the human factor is still the most decisive and substantial when it comes to business-to-customer interactions.
Provide social media support: While some prefer to speak to a human-being on the phone, the next generation of customers "millennials," prefer to use social media as their go-to point for customer support. Bonus tip for businesses: It costs 6x more to solve a customer issue through a call center than on social media.
Use a powerful help desk software: The best way to keep track of all interactions and set up a protocol for managing customer contacts is to have the right help support software to create a convenient, seamless and unforgettable experience - a must-have for any business of any size and any industry.
Pro tip: Want to take your efforts to the next level? Discover our guide of the most important customer service trends of 2019.
Ready to use these tips to create loyal customers? Get the best help desk software today!