Loyal customers are wonderful. They provide a friendly face, are less sensitive to price and are likely to recommend you to others. Sounds great doesn’t it? So how do you earn a customer’s loyalty? Because that’s what it’s all about – earning it. Consumers have a billion choices for every purchase they make, you have to give a reason for them to choose you, every time.
Customer loyalty has changed over the years. Before the internet, most people were unaware of all their choices and ended up choosing a shop or a brand purely based on convenience. Convenience and location still matter greatly, but people have access to information online that enables them to research their options before deciding.
True customer loyalty is hard to define – but loosely it means customers who come back regularly over a period of time, who like and perhaps identify with your shop/products, recommend you and typically have more patience than walk-ins or bargain-hunters.
Earn Your Customers Loyalty
- But first, you have to attract them. This means visibility, online and any premises your business occupies (if applicable). A website, a social media page and some good online reviews carry a lot of weight these days, as consumers tend to research before they buy and try new products or brands. You don’t need all of these, but at least one is recommended. Physical visibility and presentation also matters – make sure your shop looks tidy and inviting.
- Then you have to make them buy. This means easy navigation and helpful staff. It doesn’t matter if it is on or offline. Make sure your products are easy to navigate, easy to learn about – and that you have someone to answer any and all questions. Online chats are popular, but email and a phone number are both good – in fact have all three if you can. Customers have different preferences in how they want to contact you – your job is to make it as easy as possible to let them do so on their terms. In store, make sure staff are knowledgable about what they sell. Greet every customer, and offer help and assistance straight away.
- Finally – make the customer want to come back. With good products that are easy to both locate and learn about; smiley, helpful and attentive staff, you have laid the groundwork which opens up for customer loyalty. For the last nudge, offer them some proof that you really value their custom. The very basic is to thank them – you can also include them in a customer club or a loyalty program. Rewards needn’t be big – but a free coffee after 6, a £5 discount after having spent £50 and so on are really powerful ways to entice your customers to stay with you.
Consistency is key – you can’t buy your customers loyalty, but you can encourage it.