What does it take to create customer loyalty, the kind that makes customers stick with you even when their favorite customer service rep moves on? Even when your prices change? Or when the extra 10 miles between your store and someone else’s means they spend an extra half-gallon of gas to reach you?
Here are some tips from the experts.
- Know your customers. Do you know who your best customers are? Your worst? What is the demographic make-up of each group? If you’ve lost customers, do you know why? When was the last time you conducted a customer survey or a focus group? Knowing what makes your customers tick is the first step to knowing how to keep them.
- Make it personal. Shift from mass mailings and generic communications to 1:1 print communications as much as possible. This should go beyond “Dear <<name>>” and include content driven by demographics, demonstrated preferences, or past purchase history. The goal is not just to let your customers know that you know their names. It is to increase the relevance of your communications to their lives.
- Spread the communication around. Some companies assign each customer a specific customer service representative or sales consultant. This creates a special relationship between customer and sales rep that can be invaluable. The downside is that this relationship can become so valuable that, should the sales rep leave the company, your customer might be willing to leave with them. Encourage your customers to have multiple contact points within your company. Try to avoid relationships being through a single individual.
- Increase the frequency. Stay in communication with your customers on a regular basis, not just when there is a special promotion or event. This is the idea behind monthly newsletters and “tips and tricks” postcards, especially those personalized to each recipient’s individual needs.
- Reward loyalty. When customers are loyal, let them know that you appreciate it. Send them a thank-you once in awhile. Mail out special “loyal customer” discounts, personalized to their unique habits and preferences whenever possible.
Retaining customers takes effort. It requires a customer retention plan and an intentional, focused effort to keep those customers you’ve worked so hard to have. What’s your plan?