It’s a universal truth that retaining a customer is less expensive than acquiring new ones. But it’s an easy truth to forget and once you let your attention slip, customer loyalty begins to slip as well. So whether you’re selling expensive jewellery in the Dubai Souk, or ice-cream on Jumeirah Beach, keep your customers at the forefront of your mind.
Why are they loyal?
It’s really important to know what it is about your business that keeps customers coming back for more. One of the world’s best selling novelists, Dan Brown, keeps his readers buying his books by using a similar formula and the same hero in most of his books. He knows what his audience wants and gives it to them book after book.
Ask yourself, your colleagues, and most particularly your customers, what it is that keeps them returning to you. It could be you have the best delivery in the city, or the nicest staff, or the best food. And you could also find out what is turning people away – as important to know when building a profile of a loyal customer.
The positive experience
One bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer. You may feel that’s a bit harsh, but unless you have the complete monopoly on a product or service, there is always a choice for the customer to go somewhere else. If your customer feels they can get a better experience elsewhere, they will at least give it a try, and once tried, they may stay with your competition.
The old maxim that you should under-promise and over-deliver has never been so true. In the age of Trip Advisor and reviews on Amazon, customers can tell the world of their experience in minutes. With this type of instant feedback, one bad experience (or several in a row) posted online could lose your sales straight away.
Which is why consistency is important. If you run a hotel, you know that people will keep coming back if the rooms are consistently clean and comfortable, and if your staff are always courteous and helpful. However, if you price yourself too high, long standing customers will expect an even higher level of service from you – such as expensive toiletries, specialist free teas and coffee, and if you fail to live up to that, you’ll lose customers.
Lots of consumer businesses have loyalty schemes (where customers get points for every purchase over a certain amount) in a bid to encourage people to return to their store for repeat goods. They can be incredibly good for business, but if you don’t give people sufficient rewards (in the shape of special events, money off coupons, etc), they’ll stop using the loyalty card and drift towards other businesses.
But when a loyalty scheme is working well you not only get repeat custom, you can track what works and what doesn’t work with your customers. It’s a fantastic tool to help you tweak your reward program to make individuals feel really wanted in your stores.
Loyalty in b2b
The business world is no different from the consumer world. You are still dealing with people and they want the same levels of customer support a consumer demands. So it’s important to identify loyal business customers a reward them for their business. Whether that’s taking them out for dinner, sending them flowers, inviting them to an inclusive event or giving them a discount on their next order. Remember them and they’ll remember you next time around.