In the not-too-distant past, customer reviews were little more than word-of-mouth between customers and potential customers. Now, however, a bad review can spread at (nearly) the speed of light from one unhappy customer to thousands or tens of thousands of potential customers.
Customer loyalty is essential for building a successful business. And while obvious, it’s hard to overstate the value of establishing a solid base of long-term customers.
That’s because customer retention is much more cost-effective than constant acquisition. In fact, it costs five times more to earn a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
Take a look below at five ways you can continually earn customer loyalty.
1. Regularly Reach Out to Your Current Customers for Feedback
When your dad gave you advice as a teen, you probably rolled your eyes, got defensive and said something like, “You don't know what you're talking about.” (You showed him.)
Sometimes businesses react to customer feedback just like a teenager. They don’t want to listen to valuable advice—especially if it’s something you don’t want to hear.
Every business needs to make an effort to collect feedback from customers and listen to it.
For example, after Domino’s experienced a massive PR disaster in the form of a viral video of their employees tampering (disgustingly) with food. Instead of offering a by-the-books non-apology, Dominoes launched their Pizza Turnaround campaign and actually listened to the feedback of their customers.
The company would spend millions reinventing their pizza “from the crust up,” improving its menu and—most importantly—they advertised the entire process. It was important for the brand to be transparent about both their need to change, as well as the huge investment they were making in their transformation.
Being transparent about the need to change, as well as the huge investment Domino’s was making in their transformation is a great example of why companies should show customers that you’re not just reading their feedback, but also acting on it.
2. Provide Responsive Customer Service
All too often, the first clue you will have that a customer had a bad experience with your brand will be in the form of bad review on social media or a product review site.
When this happens, the first responsibility should be obvious: contact the customer and make it right.
Your best and most devoted advocates are often customers who started out with a bad experience with your brand, only to have it turned around by a positive customer experience.
3. Create Transparency with Customers
If you want your customers to trust you, you need to be deserving of their trust. That means being honest and transparent about what they can expect from your company.
Studies over the years have found that more than half of consumers stay with a brand for life if it provides them with complete transparency.
Meanwhile, a 2018 study from Sprout Social showed that 89% of consumers would give transparent brands a second chance after a bad experience and 85% would stick with these transparent brands through a crisis.
Even without these numbers, the concept is easy to understand—when you are truthful and open with your customers, they feel more connected to your brand and will stay with you for the long-term.
After all, customers that are caught off guard a few months into their relationship with your brand are highly unlikely to stick around. But those who are given all of the information they need to make an informed decision will be appreciative of that fact—and will know that they can trust your team.
4. Turn Your Reviews and Testimonials into a Bullhorn for Potential Customers
No matter how trustworthy your organization, customers will almost always trust friends and other customers more than companies.
Hearing from satisfied customers will make prospective customers more comfortable giving your business a chance—and will go a long way to help them trust your brand right from the start.
5. Show Off Your Brand (and Employee) Personality
Showing the people behind your brand can be attention-grabbing.
Personalized and fun content about employees or behind-the-scenes photos and videos will not only engage your team on social media but also showcase who you are and increase your business’s credibility.
While chatbots, virtual assistants and other trending communications technology offers increased convenience, it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of customers (58%) still believe that picking up the phone and talking to a representative is the way to get the best and most efficient service.
Loyalty Comes When You Put Customers First
Trust and loyalty are essential for earning long-term customers and can make all the difference in your company’s success.
Earning customer trust doesn’t require any sort of complex strategy. The basics are still critical: excellent customer service, transparency and honesty, and seek (and act on) feedback.
Put your customers first and make sure that those customers know they’re your top priority. When you do that, you can be confident that customer loyalty—even customer advocacy—will follow closely behind.
Turning loyal customers into brand advocates is critical to organization success. Learn more about how you can create powerful brand advocates with our ebook, Brand Advocacy and the Emotionally Connected Customer.