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5 rules for developing customer loyalty

July 9, 2015

Customer loyalty is a journey, not a destination. 

In 2015, customer loyalty reaches far beyond catchy slogans and flashy advertising. As a business owner, you probably understand the importance of customer loyalty. What you may not know is that customer loyalty is a journey, not a destination. When interacting with your clients, there are several things you can do to demonstrate your commitment to excellence. What keeps customers coming back is the relationship itself. Rather than put all your effort into one marketing campaign, or one sales initiative, try showing your community that service is a part of everything you do. Here are 5 rules for developing customer loyalty:

“Millennials respond to personalized promotions more than other age groups.”

1. Know your customers
The first thing you need to do in order to establish the customer loyalty relationship is know you who you are dealing with. Whether you ask sales personnel to be friendly at your store, or employ the use of surveys and discussion boards, focus on gathering pertinent information. You want to know who your target demographic is, what they like to buy, how old they are, where they live, etc. Loyalty360 pointed out that understanding what motivates different age groups is an important consideration for marketers. According to a study by Vision Critical, for example, millennials have dramatically different customer preferences than older customers. While 72 percent of Americans are likely to contact customer service at least once a year, millennials will reach out more often than people 55 years of age and older. Millennials respond to personalized promotions more than other age groups as well. Knowing this, you can solicit direct customer feedback and use your purchase history to shape the customer experience going forward.

2. Be fun and attractive
No one likes going to drab storerooms or accessing unorganized and chaotic websites. When designing your sales platforms – whether brick-and-mortar or online – think about how the customer will experience your store. In a showroom, you want to have clear separation of product types, good lighting and friendly sales representatives. Online, you want your site to be easily navigable, intuitive and visually appealing. Also, because so many consumers today like to use their mobile devices to browse product catalogs, you should use responsive site design. This will ensure that whether your clients access your site via desktop or tablet, they will view your pages in their intended layout. Think about popular brands like Coca Cola or The Gap. You can’t see their logo without instantly recognizing it for what it is. Try to achieve the same look in your store and online. 

3. Innovate and modernize
Let’s face it, if you have one of those old cash registers with the round buttons and ringing bells, you are way behind on the times. Even magnetic stripe readers are considered to be antiquated at this point. You should make sure your point of sale devices are upgraded and are compatible mobile payments and EMV cards. Today, customers have the option of paying with cash, card and phone. Accepting payments from all sources shows your customers that you are committed to offering them the best experience possible. Also, PaymentsSource pointed out that with the looming liability shift in the U.S. coming into effect in October, you want to make sure your point of sale devices work with these modern cards.

Use rewards programs to honor repeat customers. Customer loyalty is all about good service.

4. Communicate frequently
As previously mentioned, customer loyalty is a journey. That journey is based on constant communication. The most important thing for you to do in this regard is to have a voice. You should blog consistently to increase SEO traffic on your website, informing your clients about new product offerings and deals at your store. Also, by reviewing products that you sell, you will position yourself as a thought leader. Demonstrating interest and expertise in the products and services that you offer tells your clients that you care about what they buy from you. PaymentsSource explained that another area where you can offer educational information is on the topic of EMV cards. These chip-embedded cards come with a host of benefits that not all customers are familiar with. You can tell them that instead using the traditional magnetic stripe cards, EMV offers better protection through added layers of security. Obviously, you will have to equip your store with the sales terminals that accept them.

5. Honor your loyal customers
This last point is important. If you truly want to establish customer loyalty, then you must recognize and honor the people who shop regularly at your store. You can use rewards programs and store branded cards to distinguish your loyal patrons from your other customers. Deals, discounts, promotions, offers – use them all to show your repeat clients that you value their contribution. Technology makes rewards programs easier than ever before. On your website, you can allow your customers to log into individualized accounts, and at your store, you scan personalized cards to see which of your customers has accrued rewards points.

Ultimately, many stores sell the same products. What differentiates them is the way they interact with their customers. If you reflect a culture of service in all your business activities, that effort will go far because customer loyalty means future sales. With a loyal fan base of consumers, you can easily grow your business and tackle new ground. 

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