Multinationals spend millions in establishing how best they can win the heart of their consumers in the long run in order to gain and retain market share in an increasingly competitive market. This is because; customer loyalty has benefits that cannot be achieved through any other means.
Why focus on customer loyalty?
- Loyal customers will stick to you and defend you on the day the good name of your business is tarnished
- Loyal customers will keep purchasing from you even when your competitors reduce prices to almost zero
- Loyal customers will create sales to sustain your business when nobody is buying.
- They will be willing to pay more for your offerings, thereby increasing your profitability.
- Creating loyalty is a sustainable way of doing business in the long run.
Types of customer loyalty
Loyalty to a product
This is where customers continually come to purchase from you because you offer a specific product that they cannot find elsewhere. Unless your business produces that specific product, this loyalty is not good for you as a small business. This is because; another small business may quickly set up near you to offer the same product or service, and as such, dividing your customers. Move the focus of loyalty from products to loyalty to your business.
Loyalty to an employee
This is where you develop a stream of customers because of a particular employee. This kind of loyalty is also not good because a competitor may learn about these employees and offer them better pay to steal your customers. Learn what is unique about this employee. Train your other staff members to behave in a similar manner, taking care not to eradicate the innate talent and uniqueness that each employee brings to your business. In that way, the customers will be willing to be served by another employee when the favoured one is no longer there.
Loyalty to a business
This is the right type of loyalty which the entire issue will focus on.
Making customers more loyal to your business
Focus on attracting the decision maker
We are influenced by others’ decisions, and especially the decision of an opinion leader. This means that if you win the heart of the opinion leader, you win the heart of an entire group. Ask yourself: Who makes the decision to buy your products or services? Focus on winning the heart of this decision-maker. You will reap from collective purchasing.
Build trust with your existing customers
Can people rate your business as trustworthy? This is how to build trust:
Fulfil your promises: Usually, customers will create expectations, according to what you promise them. Let them find your promise true. They will trust you.
Be reliable: Inconveniences are sometimes unavoidable. Go an extra mile to ensure your customers are served as you would have.
Apologise: when inconveniences happen, make sincere apologies. Apology has the capability of bringing the consumer back to balance.
Provide useful information to your customers
Sometimes customers need help to make the best choice. Best varies to the consumer depending on their financial capability, product use, the level of convenience desired and quality of the product. Letting the customer know this variability and helping them through the decision making process will cause them to regard you as useful and as such build their loyalty. This is one of the powerful ways of shifting focus from the product offered in your store, because while the product can be found anywhere else, your knowledge and experience with the product is unique to you.
Make your business environment attractive
Customers care about the where you are located, the quietness, security, cleanness, the design of your premises and every sort of aesthetics. Even if you do not have enough money to make your business beautiful enough, at least ensure you operate in a clean environment, with clean stuff and that your products are well arranged with the most attractive displayed.
It’s that simple. Offer assistance when requested; answer questions without being sarcastic or feeling offended. Some customers will ask many questions and then afterwards leave without making a purchase. Don’t be emotional. The way you treat such customers will give you credibility among others, and cause even those that were not willing to buy to actually make purchases as a way of compensating you.
Also, treat your employees well. Employees tend to extend the same treatment they get from you to your customers, and they do this when you are totally absent. Your business will do well if your employees are kept alive and energetic.
Treat all your customers equitably
Equity in the treatment of customers communicates value. There is a concept known as organizational justice. This is how people, including consumers and employees view your processes and interactions as just. When customers feel you are just, they will remain loyal to you.
Serve with a smile
Have you ever wondered why adverts display happy, smiling or laughing people? It’s the same concept of creating a perception of happiness. Nobody will buy a product that makes them sad. Nobody will engage with a business that makes them feel depressed. People already have too many problems. Let them feel that they will be happier when they engage your business. It’s about touching the consumer’s spirit. Large companies do this not just by their adverts, but through engagement in CSR. Achieve the same impact with just a smile.