There are various reasons that a person or business remains loyal to a particular brand, however traditional loyalty is often forgotten, over price.
Many independent retailers have gone out of business when a large retail chain supplies goods at discounted prices, without comprising on quality. Consumers are prepared to settle for a little less convenience and customer service, to get a better deal.
In the professional services sector, customers are now willing to move to another Accountant, Solicitor and Bank for a better deal, or indeed a different type of relationship. Being with a Bank or Solicitor for life is no longer the case.
So how do you create customer loyalty in today’s market? Furthermore, where does loyalty come from?
If we look at loyalty in other areas of our life….we are loyal to the sporting clubs we support, to family, friends and our pets. We want to support people we know and love. We are guided by people in business when they recommend something to us. Sometimes we are loyal to a particular brand of phone, car or supermarket chain.
Loyalty is generally built around exceptional customer service and great relationships. In considering these loyalties, they are generally built around passion, feeling, relationships and getting that little bit extra…something we weren’t expecting or didn’t even ask for. In essence, we often buy because of an emotion and remain loyal because of a relationship with someone at the company or where something they do exceeds our expectations.
When something doesn’t go quite right at one High Street Bank, they put it right, apologise and compensate immediately, without question. When you purchase a new vehicle, one particular brand presents their customers with a box of wine and chocolates and always returns your car after a service or repair, fully valeted. One local accountant sends birthday cards to all of their clients. How often do we get an email with discounts to our local restaurants just before our birthday or receive something as part of a loyalty program? It all makes a difference to how we feel.
These little touches create loyalty and are great ways for people to speak about your company in a positive light to others. The end result is that these companies, just by a few simple actions, make you feel special and we return to make subsequent purchases or remain loyal to the service or product they provide.
These are just a few tips to create loyalty with your customers:
- Make your customers feel special;
- Remember details about your customers. Perhaps a birthday, a wedding or congratulate them on the birth of a child;
- If a customer refers you to someone else, remember to say thank you…send a small token or thank you card;
- Exceed expectations. Be proactive rather than reactive;
- Share useful information if it’s relevant to your customer too;
- Keep in contact, even when they have purchased. Your existing customers are your most valuable assets.
Sandra Garlick works with businesses from pre-start through to exit. She is a business mentor and public speaker. She regularly advises on business growth and strategy.