Economically, it’s sound logic to keep hold of your existing customers and build long-lasting relationships with them. There are strong links between successful businesses and their long-term customers, so customer loyalty should always be valued and encouraged. When you maintain good relationships with your customer base, you can expect happier customers, more repeat business, more recommendations and sales from word-of-mouth marketing, less time trying to attract ‘cold’ prospects from scratch, and different marketing funnel experiences for old and new customers.
How do I retain customers and build long-lasting relationships?
So, you know that holding onto your existing customers is good business practice and can save you money in the future, but how do you go about achieving it? Here’s our guide on how to reward and build a great relationship with your customers — which ultimately will result in their loyalty to you and your brand.
Give customers incentives to return
If you have secured their email address, you might want to send them a discount voucher, or if you are in contact with them by mail or phone, you could give them an exclusive special offer not open to other customers and clients. This is likely to encourage your customers to come back rather than try out one of your competitors. For instance, if you sell printer cartridges, you could offer free shipping and a discount for customers who re-order within a certain period of time.
Stores like Yours Clothing offer a discount voucher to existing customers who recommend new customers, while sites like Top Cashback offer additional cashback to customers who recommend new visitors to sign up. This approach provides a real motivation for existing customers to demonstrate their worth and bring new buyers your way.
Offer loyalty schemes
In Costa Coffee, customers can get a loyalty card stamped to save towards a free drink when they have visited a certain number of times. In supermarkets, customers can collect points that they later redeem for discounts on their purchases. Reward your long-term customers for sticking with you by coming up with a loyalty scheme that offers discounts, freebies, or rewards when they show that they have chosen your business numerous times.
Keep in touch with your clients regularly
Whether this is via an email newsletter or more personal connections, consistent contact is essential. You can introduce surveys, engaging interactive content, such as quizzes, promotions, or even special offers to make sure you are at the front of your customer’s mind when they are ready to make a purchase.
Don’t over promise and under deliver
However well you have done in the past, if you let your customer down, there is almost always a competitor they can turn to instead. Keep the promises you make, whether that is lifelong tech support or free postage on every sale.
Stay true to your brand identity
A discount store would reward loyalty from a customer in a very different way to a legal practice, while a clothes shop would work differently to a PR firm. If your customers are worth tens of thousands of pounds per year to you, you will be more likely to reward their continuing support with special evenings out or generous gifts, whereas if they spend a little at a time, reward cards and mini discounts will be more appropriate. Think about your brand identity and how a customer loyalty reward scheme should look in that context.
Listen and respond
If you don’t ask your customers how well you are performing, you may not know if they are unhappy. Regularly ask for feedback, either on an individual level or via online surveys, to ensure you are not disappointing your customers, which could lead to them leaving your brand to buy from your competitors.
Be easy to contact
Do your customers know where to find you on social media, and how to call you if they have a problem? Make it simple so you don’t cause unnecessary frustration: don’t make them click through numerous pages of questions before a ‘contact us’ link is accessible.
If you go out of your way to make your customers happy, they will simply have to return to buy from you again in the future.
How customer loyalty can reward you in the future
As well as improving your current balance sheet, good customer loyalty can help you well into the future. The relationships you build right now could still be strong partnerships in years to come if you gauge it correctly and make good judgements, so think long-term when you are considering your next approach.