Five cost-effective ways to build customer loyalty

Remember, less can be more

Your customers are arguably the most important ‘asset’ of your business.

With the cost of acquiring new customers being six to seven times more retaining your existing ones then having a program to keep and build loyalty with your existing customers is key.

In today’s economic climate many businesses and business owners are looking for ways to combat rising costs and sometimes looking after your customers takes a back seat.

Remember though. Less can be more. Your loyalty and retention programs don’t have to cost you a fortune to be effective.

Leverage technology

Advances in  technology in the past five years have been phenomenal. There are now a growing number of cloud based  customer relationship management systems such as Zoho, Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, in addition to the usual suspects from SAP and Oracle.

With your sales and account management teams armed with smart mobile devices these systems are a great way to capture and manage information on your customers buying patterns and preferences and this gives you insight into what they really value.

Demonstrating that you take an interest in your customers needs and preferences is a sure fire way to keep them coming back.

Five cost-effective ways to look after your customers

1. Pay attention to the small things

Do you have a favourite restaurant of café you visit regularly?  I know I do.  My local coffee shop barista would sometimes see me walking up the street and have my favourite coffee ready for when I arrived.  Cost to them, nothing except applying some thought and initiative. 

Did I go the coffee shop next door even on the days that they were really busy? No of course I didn’t.  Value to them: 220 days of coffees and lunch x $10+/day. Not a bad return on investment?

2. Offer preferential services

Airlines do this very well.  I always look on with envy as the gold card holders are invited to board the plane first, and it gets worse at the other end as I watch their baggage come off the carousel what seems like hours ahead of mine with nice big priority labels on them. 

What could you do for your loyal customers to make their experience with you that little bit more special?

3. Host preview events to showcase your new product or services

Movie premiers, wine tastings, restaurant private tastings , new car launches, the expansion of your facilities, or extension of your product of service range.  These are all good reasons to engage with your loyal customers and make them feel valued.  Sometimes just receiving the invitation is enough.  If they do come along it’s a fantastic opportunity to get some valuable face-to-face feedback and capitalise on the power of their personal networks.

4. Invite customers to trial new products and services for free

Car dealerships use this one to good effect.  One of my friends was a good customer of his local Jaguar dealership.  When his current car was in for a service his courtesy car was the latest model XF.  It was pretty hard giving the car back after he had had it for the weekend.

The dealer offered him a great deal on his trade and he was the proud owner of a shiny new Jaguar XF.

Where are the opportunities in your business to let loyal customers experience your latest offerings?

5. Offer additional products and services at cost.

Ok, there is a cost attached to this one. You will be giving away the margin you could have earned if you sold the item at full price but it’s a great way to create goodwill.  Think about the times this has happened to you? Whether it was part of a bulk purchase or a particuly large order, or even something as simple as an upgrade to a higher value item at the same price.  It certainly makes me feel good when it happens, and it keeps me coming back, which in an age of ever increasing competition is a good thing.

Having your customers feeling good about you and coming back is the outcome you want from any loyalty or retention program. Remember though. Less can be more.

Comments

  1. Hi Nick, Great post! Creating unique customer service experiences as a precursor to building loyalty and retention – is a favourite topic of mine. Tip #2 stands out for me. I agree it is the little things that matter when it comes to customer service; and delighting a customer can be as easy as remembering who they are (e.g. their name, or referring to something important or special from the last conversation you had with them, or asking them for their personal feedback on a new service or product). Essentially customers want to feel special (e.g. they want to know they are not a number, that their needs will be met by the service they have engaged and that there is perceived value for money in the service offering) which is why, exceeding their expectations from the first interaction and continuing build a relationship with them is key.

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