Customers are expensive to acquire and take time to win over. Research shows that acquiring a new customer is at anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones, and increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25–95%.
Not only that, but existing customers spend 67% more than new customers. In short, customer loyalty really pays off—and customer loyalty programs end up paying for themselves.
By addressing the questions below, you can implement a customer loyalty strategy that will keep customers happy and coming back for more, and happy to share their good experience with friends, family and peers.
1. Personalization—Just How Important Is It?
In a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers found that waiters and waitresses could increase their tips by 23% by the simple act of returning to tables with a second set of mints. According to the research, “The post-purchase follow up with genuine concern for the customer ("I thought you might like more mints...") connected with people more than the additional pieces of candy would imply.” So, it was the personalized service that made their day, not the small gift in itself.
The effects of personalization cannot be understated, as recent research in the UK found that personalization using purchase history, user preferences and other relevant delivers a high impact ROI.
That’s why it’s best to always add personality to every message. Nobody likes a canned response, so make sure whatever you're communicating sounds like it's coming from a human.
Just like Idomoo founder and CEO, Eitan Fogel, said in an interview with Businessinsider.com, "I don't know of a single person who doesn't like the sound of their own name. Personalization has long been a critical component of customer relationship management and customer service."
2. Expectations—What Happens When You Fail to Deliver on a Promise?
It’s dangerous promising what you can’t deliver. You know that promises raise expectations. When customers are expectant, they’re at a delicate stage—because a step could make or break your brand. Become sensitive to your promises—and dare to exceed them. To avoid alienating your customers, the rule of business hasn’t changed: “Under promise and over deliver.”
A recent study by Manuela Vieth revealed that unkept promises provoke revenge against the organization that failed to honor them. And according to statistics from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, when a customer is dissatisfied, she will likely tell 20 more persons about her negative experience with the brand.
3. Convenience—How Much Does Access Matter?
Our society has developed to a point where consumers are no longer impressed by the convenient services offered by major retailers; they expect and demand them. The more convenient you can make all customer interactions, the more likely those customers will continue to come back.
So, make your products and services as accessible as possible. Identify the desires and behaviors of your customers and create tools and systems that empower them. Whether that be an app or other traditional methods, it's up to you.
4. Surprise—Does the Pleasantly Unexpected Really Help?
If you want your customers to stay put and trust your brand, then you should get beyond the normal service or product that you offer.
Surprises motivate customers. Psychologically, scientists say that surprise is good for the brain. It also brings pleasure. Don’t wait until your customers make a request. Step up and surprise them.
5. Sharing—Do People Listen to Their Peers?
Social sharing competitions that feature customer photos and offer great prizes are the perfect way to establish a connection with your brand. Not only does social media help businesses to bond with the Gen X, millennial and Gen Z customers that own the marketplace, but contests can help speed up your ability to build relationships by hacking into the rule of reciprocation. In other words, if you give today’s customer something they feel like they should give you something in return.
But not all incentives are equal. Some serve as pure retention tools, while others can entice brand ambassadors to do some word-of-mouth marketing. The latter, which saves on marketing expense down the road, allows you to justify a more significant reward for your most loyal customers when they share your brand and products on social. This increases customer engagement, while bringing you high-quality traffic that you would work hard to reach otherwise.
6. VIPs—What is the Motivational Impact of Status?
Sometimes the greatest motivator of behavior is the status you can achieve. A VIP program takes loyalty points to the next level by giving customers elevated status and exclusive offers in addition to increasing rewards as they continue to shop with you. The more they shop, the more they get!
Let’s say you have a number of incentives to give away, so you would like to reward your most profitable customers to further increase their loyalty. First, create a list of your most profitable customers. Identifying these accounts can also help you develop strategies for cross-selling. Then, you can start to follow up and let them know about the rewards and incentives in order to make them feel special, so they continue to stay as your most profitable customers.
7. Say, “Thank You”—Are You Treating Customers the Same Way You’d Want to Be Treated?
Taking the time to say thank you to your customers—outside of an email campaign or a customer purchase—goes a long way toward building a brand that customers want to engage with.
Clothing and shoe e-commerce site Zappos is well-known for its excellent customer service—including its efforts to show customers how much they care by saying thank you and sending gifts. In fact, Zappos even has an office-wide tally of how many gifts and surprises have been sent to customers during the previous month to make sure the whole team is doing their part to show customers how much they're appreciated.
It doesn't take convoluted customer loyalty strategies to keep customers coming back for more. The main thing to keep in mind is that, if you want your customers to keep coming back, you need to “wow” them whenever possible. Keep them interested, engaged and surprised, and you’ll have a customer for life.
Want more advice on connecting with your customers in more meaningful ways? Discover how to connect on an emotional level to build brand advocacy in our ebook, Brand Advocacy and the Emotionally Connected Customer.