You work hard for your leads – and then you work harder to get them to convert, and eventually you have that first, exciting purchase that makes all your work worth it. That might be the end of the sales funnel, but it shouldn’t be the end of your relationship with this first-time customer. You now have the opportunity to make them a return customer, if you play your cards right.
Getting new customers is certainly important, but keeping your customers coming back again and again is the key to a healthy, stable business. But there’s another advantage that comes from building customer loyalty: happy, loyal customers often become brand advocates, recommending your business to their friends, family and social media connections, and spreading the word about their great experience working with your company.
The value of a loyal customer who advocates for your brand is hard to quantify, but study after study has shown that people trust a friend’s recommendation over ads or sales pitches, every time. So how can you get those customers coming back again and again?
Step 1: Listen
The first step for inspiring loyalty in your customers is to listen: they'll let you know what their pain points and their needs are - and then you have the opportunity to help. Make it easy for customers to contact you, in many ways (email, live chat, phone, etc.) so they can choose what works for them. Your social media channels should be welcoming and friendly so customers know that their questions, comments and feedback are welcome.
Step 2: Reward (for good behavior)
The second step is providing rewards for your returning customers. This works in two ways – they feel good about getting an obvious perk, and also feel that you value and appreciate their business. Whether it's a discount on something they purchase frequently, or even a thoughtful gift or hand-written note, this reward will help to build the relationship between the customer and your company.
Step 3: Ask
Once you've established a relationship, step three is asking – an important part of your communication. So far, you’ve done well for them, so it's okay to ask for time to learn more about them, ask for a referral, ask how you can assist them more, etc. Your relationship will be more two-sided when you ask for something modest that they can provide.
Step 4: Repeat
And step four is the most important one: repeat. Keep up your efforts to connect over time and on a regular basis, whether it’s through scheduled emails, social media conversations, or even a phone call for B2B relationships. Don’t go silent or you’ll lose all the positive momentum you’ve worked so hard to build! Consistency will help create that customer loyalty you’re looking for.
These steps are the framework for connecting with customers and encouraging their loyalty over time, but don’t’ forget that different customers may want or require different approaches. Keep notes or use a CRM system to track their responses, and then tailor your methods to their preferences – and soon you’ll have loyal customers to push your business forward.
Please share your thoughts in the comments!