Uwe is the founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry and also offers Free Invoice templates to businesses. Small businesses and sole traders can create, send and manage their invoices, quotes and credit notes with the tool. In his free time, Uwe travels the world and enjoys experiencing different cultures.
The more a consumer resonates with your brand, the more likely they are to buy from you again so forming a loyal customer base is essential.
Makes sense, right?
You don’t have to go through the whole buyer’s journey again from scratch; and instead, you just have to sell to someone who already bought from you before (i.e. they probably already like your brand and/or product).
They bring in more profit too.
Increasing customer retention rates just by 5% have shown to increase profits as much as 25%-95% (Source)
While repeat customers might come back to buy from you again (eventually), loyal clients don’t have to make that decision.
The main difference is that loyal customers flock to your brand; even if there’s something they don’t like, they’d rather wait it out than go elsewhere.
And at its core, that’s what matters the most about loyal customers.
They are in love with your brand, not necessarily your product.
In other words, they probably chose your brand because of your WHY and not your WHAT.
So, how do you turn repeat customers into forever customers?
Well, to begin with -
1. Customer service comes first
No matter what industry or niche you are in - you should always focus on customer service as a priority, especially on social media.
This has nothing to do with your product or business. Rather, your touchpoints with your customers should always be a priority.
If you want loyal customers, Extraa-ordinary customer service is a must.
Within each interaction they have with your brand (social media, emails, phone calls), your clients need to be assured that they made the right choice when they chose your brand. And each touchpoint they have is an evaluation of their judgment call about your service.
Customers are often finicky, however, and have a lot of expectations by default.
In fact, 42% of them usually expect a response on social media within the hour.
Now, that’s not unrealistic, considering there’s so much you can do to up your social media game (messenger chatbots being one of them). But it shows that if you manage to live up to and exceed your customers’ expectations, you’re on the right track.
Go above and beyond the call of duty, truly help them and make them smile - and they’ll definitely remember you.
Never forget there’s another person on the other end of the screen.
2. Provide incentives & rewards
One of the best ways to directly instill loyalty among your clients is to reward them.
Customers love brands that care about them. And if they have an obvious incentive to do business with your brand instead of elsewhere, they will.
So, how do you keep them coming back?
- Set up a loyalty program - 76% of women and 73% of men are likely to shop again with a brand that offers a loyalty program (Source). They’re also more likely to provide a direct word-of-mouth reference to their friends.
- Interact with them daily - be where your customers are. Be it social media, Quora, or the local coffee shop. If you want to understand your customers better and succeed in your business, you must interact with them daily.
- Be passionate and personal - everyone cares about their clients. How can you stand out? Smiling and sending little gifts are great, but if you get up close and personal with them, they’ll remember you. Each customer is different; you can only segment in your analytics so far. So, try to customize your offers around actual customer behavior and, if needed, around the individual.
3. Ask for feedback, and listen
Customer communication is two-way traffic.
Customer feedback is the key to customer retention for any feedback. But ensure that once it goes in one ear, it doesn’t go out the other.
In other words, when asking for feedback, make sure you’re implementing it actively.
Many businesses mistake asking for advice but do not actually listen to it. Because it’s not something, they want to hear (e.g. if there’s something wrong with the product).
Every business should actively collect feedback, listen closely, and apply it. Once done, ask for their feedback again, and see if there’s anything you missed or if everything checks out now.
Your following up shows that you care, and they’ll appreciate it even more.
Though customers always have the option of sending you an email or leaving a review about a certain dissatisfaction they faced - they might not necessarily do so right away.
So, if you want active and immediate feedback, you can also send a satisfaction survey in your newsletter.
If you want to retain customers and increase their loyalty, reach out to them. Whether it be a newsletter, a coupon or something else, customers want to hear from you, and they want their voice to be heard.
Make sure they’re not talking to a brick wall.
4. Assume responsibility and be transparent
If they do reach out, but with a complaint, try always to make the situation right.
Your brand is only as good as the reputation behind it. Make sure you live up to it.
If they were dissatisfied with your product or service, take responsibility for the situation (assuming it is your fault). Even if it’s not, always try to fix the situation.
A couple of things happen here:
First, honesty demonstrates authenticity. Customers appreciate honesty, and even if they are dissatisfied with your service, the fact that you’re willing to assume responsibility shows that you’re also willing to make it right.
Secondly, if you screwed up and there are no two ways about it, admit your mistakes and apologize if necessary. This also shows that you’re willing to correct your approach and prevent future mistakes.
When customers have a real problem, make sure they speak with a real and sympathetic person on the other end of the line. Referring a frustrated customer to a FAQ section or an email form will most likely worsen the situation.
Do what it takes to make it right and look at things from their perspective.
5. Encourage social proof
Finally, after all, is said and done, your customers are satisfied with the service they received (as they should be), and it’s your turn to try and incentivize social shares.
Once you’ve nurtured a close relationship with your current customers, you can then move on to focusing on the new first-time consumers and repeat the cycle again.
This also gets you more social proof that alleviates potential new consumers' hesitation and helps you grow as a business.
Try alerting your current subscribers to new promotions, reward programs, and other relevant updates or content that they’ll find interesting. Then, ask them to share their stories to encourage engagement and bring on new users.
According to Kissmetrics, 71% of consumers have ended a relationship with a business due to poor customer service.
Make sure to regularly connect with your customers (new and old) without necessarily making the interaction about money (think value, instead).
Then, make the interaction a win-win situation, and you’ll go far as a business and start attracting a group of loyal customers.
Remember, a loyal customer is better than a repeat one.
It’s in your best interest to get them to stay and become loyal to your brand.
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