It’s been a tough year for many companies to weather. As soon as businesses get the green light, they will be planning to welcome as many clients as they can manage to mitigate some of the losses. Moreover, it will be the loyal customer base that ensures owners and managers have a business to continue.
It might be tempting to welcome more people through your doors with opening deals and loss-leader offers. However, your end goal is to welcome back your loyal customer base and start the journey to converting new clients into long-lived brand advocates.
What is a Loyal Customer?
Loyalty is what brings your clients back to you month on month or year on year; it’s what will see people coming back to you even after tough times. It’s the measure of how willing your clients are to continue engaging with your services and products over your competitors.
An exciting facet of customer loyalty is that the customers who show the strongest allegiance to a brand or company are most likely to thoroughly investigate and research the competition. So if you have a strong core of loyal clients, you must be doing something that your competitors aren’t.
To find out what drives loyalty in your clients, you need to get to know them – and that means asking questions and getting feedback. You can’t simply assume you know what it is that keeps your clients coming back.
And Why do you Need Loyal Clients?
A loyal customer base is the core of your business. You can tempt in new clients with offers and deals, but if they don’t stick around, they aren’t worth the money you spent on marketing to them. You’ve probably heard that it costs five times more to attract new clients than it does to nurture an existing one. It’s an old saying, but people are still human, and they still go through the same processes when choosing who they want to buy from and who will handle the service they require.
One study indicated that a 5% increase in client retention could equate to an increase in profits between 25- 95%. Let that sink in for a while. If you can increase client loyalty by 5%, you could see an increase in your profits.
Another study indicates that loyal clients and customers are more likely to spend more, return more frequently, and recommend your business to others. You can’t afford to ignore that your loyal clients are worth more to your business over the lifecycle of their time with you than twice as many new clients.
Key Approaches to Building a Loyal Customer Base
While there are no guaranteed methods for growing your core of loyal clients, there are vital facets of the customer experience that all form a framework of why your loyal customers come to you and why they stay. Before you ask for feedback and querying why people aren’t coming back, look at how your customers experience your business. If there are facets with which you aren’t happy, you can be sure there are clients who feel the same.
No matter your business, you always want to deliver an excellent product with exceptional service – even if your “product” is a service. The product is why your clients come to you. Even if you offer an extraordinary customer experience, your product will always be the most important aspect for your clients. So it has to be the best you can possibly provide.
Above everything else, you need to give your clients a reason for their loyalty.
Open Communication Channels
Communication is essential to all human relationships, whether personal or professional. You can’t connect with your loyal customer base if you aren’t talking to them and letting them respond.
It’s all very well to have an active social media posting schedule and an informative blog to keep your clients up to date, but that is all one-way communication. You don’t just need to tell your clients things; you need to let them talk to you too. By making your business open to contact, you create an environment where people feel comfortable telling you about minor concerns and queries before they escalate into major problems.
When clients can quickly contact you to leave feedback, make a query, or even make a complaint, you enhance the customer journey.
Even when something might have gone awry with the service or product you’re providing, you prove your dedication when you respond with prompt, respectful resolutions to the problem. No one is perfect 100% of the time – you know it and so do your clients.
Listening & Responding
So you have open communication channels, but what are you doing with them? Are you listening and really hearing what your clients have to say? Your loyal customers will give you honest feedback and tell you what would improve their engagement with you; you just have to listen.
When you actively listen to clients, respond to their requests, concerns and suggestions, you make them feel heard. That’s a crucial aspect of creating a relationship with your client base.
When your clients make requests for payment flexibility or suggest adaptations based on their experiences, they help you out. No one expects you to implement every suggestion or request – that’s just counter-productive – but when a single comment becomes several, you should take action to resolve the recurring issue.
If you’ve felt the desire to implement a new offer only for new clients, think hard about it. Who are the people who deserve your best deals and offers? You’ve got it, your loyal customer base. This is why loyalty schemes work so well. From consistent and regular use of your services or buying your products, your clients receive tangible rewards. I know I have a free brow wax and €50 of coffee coming my way because I regularly use the same salon and coffee shop.
Sure, promotional offers to get new people through your doors are cool. I know I’m not immune to a well-timed promotion. However, make sure you offer the best deals to existing clients first, perhaps even engage them in broadening your client base.
When you engage your loyal customer base in expanding your reach, it’s important to reward those clients for their successful referrals. These loyal clients will reap the benefits of referring a product or service they already love to someone they know. It’s zero effort with everything to gain. Moreover, you get “free” marketing, and there’s no better advertisement than a personal recommendation from someone you trust.
Be Human, and Use Empathy
The thing about human relationships, both personal and profession, is that they are between humans. You hear a lot about different types of marketing, B2C and B2B, but really, it’s all human to human. When you remember that people run your business and that your clients are also people, it’s easier to find common ground and empathy that connects you.
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You built it, you surmounted obstacles, infused your business with your ethics, drive, and passions, which means something to your clients. You are human, and you make mistakes and learn from them. Let other people learn from them too.
You might have noticed that social responsibility and ethics have become far more critical to many customers than a cheap deal. And you can share that with your interested clients.
Let the human, silly, passionate, experienced people in your business shine through and engage with others who will appreciate the authenticity and honesty you bring to the table. When you connect with your clients personally, you remind them that you are human too. And we are so much more forgiving of minor slights when we deal with real people.
Invest in Loyal Customers and Reap the Benefits
Loyal customers demand a full-service package, not just the product that you offer. They want excellent customer service, real-world advice, and human connection. It’s all about putting your clients’ needs and desires at the forefront of your business model. Without that customer-centricity, you are simply talking at people rather than engaging them. When you don’t engage in dialogue, you miss out on finding that sweet spot that will make the clients devotees to your brand.
Loyal customers will carry your business through the bad times, and they will help you grow when times are good. There is no substitute for a loyal customer base, so nurture them.