Loyal customers who return again and again are what every business owner dreams about. They not only spend more money on average than new customers, they also evangelize your business, amplifying your marketing efforts. Whether it’s loads of people lining up overnight at the Apple store or diners turning your best dishes into an Instagram sensation, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve earned a loyal fan.
Turning someone into a loyal customer takes time and effort, but it pays off in the end. Here are five ways to develop a strategy and foster loyalty with your guests.
Manage customer experience
It goes without saying that the best way to bring customers back is to give them a great experience. You don’t want to leave this to chance, so ask your customers how you’re doing. Solicit their feedback and advice. Learn what you did right from happy customers, and what you could improve in the future from the unhappy ones.
Take immediate action when things go wrong. Paradoxically, customers that start with a bad experience can actually become more loyal than customers who had a good experience if you handle it well. Feedback forms, satisfaction surveys and paying attention to reviews and social media are all good ways to do this.
Get to know your customers
The most important first step you can take in establishing loyalty is getting to know your customers better. Think about how you feel when you walk into a coffee shop and the employees not only recognize you, but they also know your name and your regular order. Or when you receive an email from a brand you like with a birthday note and a discount on a future purchase.
An effective face-to-face way to keep customers coming back is to get your employees engaged in recognition. For example, empower them to offer freebies every once in a while to customers they recognize, but don’t know. It’s important to make sure you and your staff are on the right page for this, otherwise it can be abused. Set limits and expectations. Tell your staff that a “don’t worry, I got this one” experience is meant to help them learn names and build relationships.
Tactics like this can be tricky if you’re a large business. This is where technology, such as WiFi marketing, can help. WiFi marketing platforms like Zenreach collect demographic information and track customer visits. When a customer comes into a store, they can use a customized portal to connect to the WiFi in exchange for an email address.
This allows merchants to send personalized offers that are based on what you know about a customer and when they visit. So instead of relying on employees to remember and reward customers, it’s handled automatically.
Build a foundation for customer loyalty
Loyalty can, and should, be built over time. According to a study by SumAll, customers who shop once have a 27% chance of making a second purchase, while someone who has purchased a fourth time has a 59% chance of coming back. Offers like “45% off on your second purchase” help incentivize customers to make those important follow-ups visits.
A dedicated loyalty program that rewards every single purchase on an incremental basis is a great way to drive visits. This has been proven time and time again by credit card and airline loyalty programs worldwide. A recent example, Uber’s new loyalty program, lets riders earn rewards using their app.
If you don’t have an app, email can be used. Start by following up all first-time customer visits with an engaging welcome email, complete with an offer and a short customer satisfaction survey. This let’s them know you not only appreciate their business, but you also you want to see them again and know how their experience was.
Next, set up multiple emails to keep in touch, appropriately spaced out—nobody wants an email from a business more than 1-2 times per week. These emails can be simple updates about your business, any specials or sales you have going on, or perhaps any events you may be hosting or attending. Be sure to offer something that will actually excite people.
Don’t forget to track customer loyalty so you can treat your best customers like royalty and keep them coming back. It also helps to know if your offers are attracting repeat visits. If not, try something new.
Nurture employee relationships
One often overlooked but effective way to keep customers coming back is to treat your employees well. If employees are happy, that will be reflected in the service they provide to your guests.Customer service skills also continue to improve the longer an employee is in the job. A stable team can build lasting relationships with your customers.
Friendly faces offering good service provide incentive for people to come back to your business. So look for ways to build trusting relationships with your employees, and nurture their growth.
Make longevity part of your strategy
Customer loyalty offers a unique, long-term way to think about your customers and your strategy. Thinking beyond new customer acquisition will help you stay focused on the customer experience.
Look for things that delight your customers to improve your business. Customer loyalty is progressive and strengthens over time and will ultimately help your business thrive.