What would you say is the most crucial element of your business? The one thing without which you’d have a 0% chance of success? Employees, materials and planning all play an important role in keeping your company not just afloat, but thriving—but nothing is more imperative than your customers. Without the people who invest in your products and services, there would simply be no company. And when you have loyal customers, you stand out in a competitive marketplace.
What is customer loyalty?
More than customer retention, customer loyalty is “the result of their overall satisfaction with not only your products and services, but also at every touchpoint in the customer journey.”
Earning this kind of loyalty is no easy feat—it takes carefully thought-out strategies, not to mention having metrics in place to track your brand’s customer loyalty.
Your focus should be going beyond customer retention to ensure that your customers don’t just “happen” to return—they return because they believe in your brand, and its values align with theirs. This ensures they will continue returning, quite deliberately, and perhaps even more important—they will inspire others to do the same.
Why is customer loyalty valuable?
“Loyal customers recommend your company to others, stick around longer and spend more money with your business.”
Keeping the customers you have, and turning them into loyal advocates for your brand, is critical because “customer acquisition is 5 to 25 times more expensive than customer retention … Businesses lose $1.6 trillion each year to customer switching.” Customer loyalty pays—literally.
Don’t worry if this sounds like bad news for your business. The fact is, a little goes a long way when it comes to creating customer loyalty. “A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95%.” When those retained customers are also deeply loyal to your brand, that number multiplies. Just one customer who becomes loyal can make a huge difference.
Despite these staggering statistics, “only 18% of companies focus on customer retention,” much less on customer loyalty itself. This is your call to step out of the 82% neglecting this crucial value and finally give your brand the competitive advantage it’s been searching for.
How to achieve customer loyalty
Customer loyalty isn’t as easy as it may sound, though. In fact, “67% of customers will switch to a competitor after one poor ownership experience.” When customers leave before you have a chance to properly earn their trust, how can you be expected to grow customer loyalty? And in a marketplace bursting with options—one where customers are able to “shop around” more easily and effectively than ever before—how are you meant to convince people to commit to your brand instead of a competitor’s?
There are plenty of strategies you can put in place to nurture customer loyalty and overcome the hurdle of customer switching, like mapping your customer’s journey, revamping your customer service and promoting shared values.
1. Map your customer’s journey
The practice of customer journey mapping has become a common way to improve overall customer experience. “The customer experience extends past the point of purchase all the way toward ongoing advocacy.” That means it’s beneficial to create a visual representation of the steps a customer follows in each phase of their journey with your brand. You may have many customer journey maps—one depicting the purchase of a product, one depicting a call to customer service, etc. “Customer journey
mapping tools are found in many CRM systems, they can be created with stand-alone software or tools, or they can even be completed with a pen and paper.” They are a simple and effective tool to increase customer loyalty, so read up on customer journey mapping and consider trying one out.
2. Revamp your customer service
The state of your customer service plays a huge role in your brand’s level of customer loyalty. “Customers say consistently good customer service is the main reason they stay loyal to brands, with nearly 70% of consumers spending more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.” There are tons of ways to improve customer service. Start by performing an evaluation of your current customer service standards. Ensure you have an efficient knowledge base for your customers, as “71% want the ability to solve most issues on their own.” There are plenty of dedicated customer service softwares that can help your brand provide the best customer experience possible.
3. Promote shared values
64% of customers say shared values are the primary reason they have a relationship with any given brand. Only 13% cite frequent interactions as the main reason. So instead of focusing on communicating loads of information to your customer, emphasize one or a handful of your brand’s biggest philanthropical values. For example, Burt’s Bees has planted more than 15 billion wildflower seeds to help restore the bee population. TOMS shoes invests 1/3 of their profits in grassroots efforts. Tweddle Group is FSC certified, meaning it practices responsible forestry in its printing. Whatever your company believes in, share it with your customers so they have all the more reason to support you.