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Earning customer loyalty may be trickier than ever. After all, 61 percent of U.S. consumers report that they changed brands or providers in the last year, meaning your customers aren’t afraid to leave you.
Customer loyalty also isn’t what some brands believe it to be. For example, customers who always buy the products a brand has on sale aren’t loyal. Many are simply looking for the cheapest option, which means they’re more loyal to the discount than to the brand.
But customers are willing to pay more if it enables them to get better customer service, enjoy a more satisfying experience, or support a particular company’s mission or values. Don’t rely on gimmicks and discounts to build customer loyalty. Instead, you need to understand who your customers are and why they choose one brand over another. If it’s not price, what about your brand or product would appeal most to them?
Once you figure out who they are and what they want, you’ll unlock the doors to truly cultivating loyal customers. For instance, if you learn that friendly and helpful customer service is the most important thing on their list when choosing a brand, then tout your customer-friendly policies and positive reviews from other customers about their experiences.
The point is that you’ll never earn customers’ loyalty until you know what they value; without their loyalty, you’re losing a precious resource. Returning customers spend more than new customers, which means you can earn more for every first-time customer whose loyalty you successfully cultivate.
As you look to update your customer-centric strategies, it’s just as important to keep a to-don’t list as it is to have a to-do list. To foster lasting customer loyalty, avoid making the following missteps:
1. Don’t abandon your core value proposition.
While you should absolutely use data to determine who your customers are and what they’re interested in, that doesn’t mean you should change your entire image or direction just to conform to what you find. Instead, identify the areas where your product, service, or brand relates most to different segments of your audience, then emphasize those areas as much as possible in your marketing efforts. The goal is to highlight things about your product, service, or company that resonate with what matters most to your customers.
Digital marketing agency Bradley and Montgomery calls this philosophy share of culture, and the company’s marketing strategies home in on its audience’s culture in an attempt to create and strengthen relationships with its customers. You can do this, too, and act on what you learn. For instance, if your customers value social consciousness, then highlight your brand’s involvement in the community and contributions to charity.
2. Don’t assume what was true yesterday is true today.
One fact that your customer data will always show is that preferences, priorities, and emotions change, sometimes from month to month. You can learn what used to matter to your customers last year, but don’t assume that it will be the same this year — or the next. Instead, avoid making assumptions and base decisions on current customer data and feedback.
Forecasting the future will require analyzing more than just past purchasing data. See what customers are following on social media, stay engaged in trending conversations, and keep track of new technologies that change how customers search and shop. Constant engagement is the only way to spot which direction customers will likely head next. And keep your forecasts focused on the short term because a lot can change quickly.
3. Don’t ignore employees’ insight.
While getting to know your customers better, you’ll have to encourage and facilitate feedback about their experience. In the process, don’t forget to bring your employees in on the conversation. They’re on the front lines, so they see customers going through those experiences, which makes them privy to the most common issues customers face. Employees also have an inside track on how customers really feel about your company and brand.
Because your team members have both context about the company and interact directly with customers on a daily basis, they can provide valuable insights about how to improve the customer experience. Also, employees who know their voices matter are more satisfied and more likely to interact positively with customers — so asking for their perspective is a win all around.
Building a loyal customer base is challenging, but the path to success is no secret. Today’s customers aren’t hard to understand — they simply want to do business with companies and brands that care about what they care about. Use data to learn who they are and build your marketing strategy to resonate with them, and keep these three to-don’ts in mind if you want that connection to mean something — and to last.
December 13, 2018 at 07:01PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs