Customers returning are the ones who hold a business together, improve stability, and boost brand reputation. How? First, customer acquisition costs have doubled over the past few years, making it cheaper to retain an existing customer. Secondly, repeat customers have already experienced your brand and are willing to spend more per purchase. Further, loyal customers are willing to recommend the brand to their family and friends. For that and many other reasons, you must review and develop customer retention strategies to keep them engaged and interested.

Customer retention strategies
Screenshot: Yotpo

As a result, an increasing number of businesses are running loyalty programs to impact customer behavior positively. However, merely introducing a reward-based loyalty program (special discounts or coupons) will not help. A report by Capgemini reveals that 77 percent of such reward-based loyalty programs fail within the first two years. 

Further, transactional loyalty programs set negative customer expectations, leading a business into a downward spiral of discounting

Customer loyalty is evolving, and so should the loyalty programs introduced by brands. Instead of focusing on activities that motivate a purchase, brands need to develop a personalized and relevant program that accompanies customers through the buyer lifecycle. 

Customer Retention Strategies 

Here are three sure-shot ways to retain customer loyalty in this modern age. 

1. Provide Valuable Customer Experience

An exceptional brand experience is critical to building a strong relationship with customers and getting a higher ROI. A recent report by Gartner reveals that awesome CX drives two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined. In fact, a new study by PwC shares that customers are willing to pay more for a friendly, welcoming, and efficient brand experience. 

Simply put, happy customers stay loyal. No wonder most firms prioritize their budget and resources to offer awesome end-to-end customer experience. 

So, what can you do to offer a positive experience to your customers? 

Set a clear vision for CX

Defining a crystal-clear CX vision is critical to driving customer-centric behavior in the organization. This vision statement will act as a guiding principle for each employee in your firm, allowing them to practice the company values in all areas, from training and development to customer service. 

Check out how Zappos clearly shares its values they believe in and practices. Sharing a clear vision drives the organization’s behavior, encouraging every team member to work towards realizing it. 

Don’t let go of the emotional connection

According to this new study by Deloitte, customer loyalty is driven by emotional connections. So, if you want to uphold customer loyalty, avoid automated phone calls, messages, and chats! Have a human-to-human connection with customers, interact with them, and understand their pressing issues. This will add a human face to your brand, and with humans come emotions! 

You have to be emotionally investing in your customers to make them your loyal brand advocates and acquire more leads. 

Count on technology

Over the past decade, several technologies have disrupted the CX space, allowing businesses to expand service offerings and enhance the customer experience. Invest in the latest technologies, such as virtual/augmented reality, location-based computing, and AI, among others, to offer a seamless experience to your customers. 

Encourage DIY for customers

Customers love to solve their issues on their own. According to a 2018 Gartner report, customer self-service surpassed human-assisted customer care in 2017. So, self-service is definitely in! 

Include FAQs, knowledgebase, online discussion forums, or an easy-to-navigate help center on your website and app to encourage customers to allow customers to find their own solutions.

Most banking sites have detailed FAQ pages to answer customer questions. Further, they also offer digital self-service features that allow users to view account balances, activate or change their PIN, or do an account transfer without interacting with the banking team. 

Listen to and act on customer feedback and reviews in real-time

Capture your customer’s opinions and feedback using post-interaction surveys, live chat tools, and follow-up emails or calls. Asking questions about their brand experience will show them you care and are always around to offer solutions to their issues. Further, it will help you gauge their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, allowing you to make the continuous improvements necessary to build long-term loyalty.

Promote a customer-centric culture where feedback is used constructively to improve Cx. Train your employees to embrace positive and negative feedback and use the insights to make smart decisions. 

Amazon empowers its customer service team to deliver outstanding service to its customers. No wonder they are way ahead of competitors! The team is trained to make simple customer-centric decisions to solve customer problems and improve their brand experience. 

2. Leverage the Power of Reciprocity

Human beings have the innate tendency to pay off debts. So, if they get something for free, they tend to feel inspired to return the favor and use the opportunity. Reciprocity is a universally accepted social rule that can be used to increase loyalty by creating a certain level of obligation in the customer, who instinctively tries to return a favor by staying with the brand.

You can use surprise or trumpeted reciprocity to make your customers return and stay loyal. 

Surprise reciprocity

As the name suggests, this reciprocity is used to surprise or enthuse a customer with a meaningful gift or a gesture. 

Dominoes often sends personalized discount coupons or cashback to its customers through emails or messages. The surprise ‘Wow’ factor, along with their awesome product range, encourages customers to keep coming back.

Both forms of reciprocity can effectively strengthen relationships with existing customers, encouraging them to stay loyal to your company. 

3. Replace Customer Loyalty Programs with Loyalty Management 

The problem with reward-based or point-centric loyalty programs is that marketers often tend to ignore their customers on a personal level. Avoid treating your customers like a point or number. Research by Salesforce reveals that two-thirds of customers switch brands if they are treated like a number instead of an individual. 

Businesses should consider replacing point-based loyalty programs with loyalty management. This means leveraging data and technology to personalize their interaction with customers through the entire lifecycle. Focusing on personalization and relevance is key to improving and retaining customer loyalty. 

Customer relationship management solutions can play a critical role in keeping customers loyal. CRM platforms such as Salesforce adoption can offer interesting insights into customer and business relations, empowering businesses to offer one-to-one multi-channel engagement from one place. Further, they use predictive analytics and recommendations to find the most effective ways to engage customers. 

With a world of data at your fingertips, CRM solutions can help you in effective loyalty management through –  

In-depth customer insights 

CRM platforms offer engagement and information-gathering tools to help businesses learn about customers and their needs. Customer data combined with marketing automation can effectively send customers curated information that adds value to their lives. 

For instance, these platforms can automate case-closed surveys and measure key customer satisfaction metrics across any Service Cloud channel to boost customer satisfaction in real time and assess team performance. 

Improved customer communication

CRM tools allow businesses to gain access to an endless variety of information that can be used to communicate effectively and offer better service to customers. CRM makes the task of scheduling and sending regular communication to customers seem effortless. Consistent brand communication and service encourage customers to stick with the brand, creating a solid base of loyal customers for your business.

High-level personalization

Relevance drives revenue! Offering relevant and tailored experiences can go a long way in fostering customer loyalty. In fact, the Loyalty Report 2019 reveals that when personalization is done well, there is a 6.4X increase in customer satisfaction. 

CRM tools can help you offer personalized experiences to customers. They help you track their needs, preferences, purchase history, important dates, and other customer data, allowing you to hone to make it more relevant to the customer. 

Customer loyalty cannot be commodified anymore! Focus on loyalty management to keep up with the ever-changing customer needs and drive loyalty through personalization and relevance. 

Summing Up

Most brands only focus on acquiring new customers. Though getting new customers on board is important, it’s the loyal ones that contribute a major chunk of your revenue and keep the business afloat. 

Your existing customers are valuable business assets that need care and attention. However, retaining loyal customers can no longer be done using the traditional methods of reward-based programs. Use the insights and customer retention strategies shared above to retain their loyalty and take your business to the next level. 

About The Author:

Lucy Manole is a creative content writer and strategist at Right Mix Marketing, an SEO-focused link-building services agency. She specializes in writing about digital marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and education. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking, and traveling. You can connect with her on Twitter at @RightMixMktg

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