Most businesses strive to achieve client or customer loyalty in myriad ways. This can be accomplished through:
- Exceptional customer service
- High-quality products or services
- Competitive pricing
- Loyalty programs
- Special sales
- Efficient operations
- User-friendly websites
- Stress-free access when trying to reach the business
- Flexible payment plans
- Customer feedback and suggestions
- Hassle-free problem solving
- Inquiries handled promptly
- Knowledgeable and caring employees
- Personalized service
- Being reliable
- Flexible and adaptable
- Knowing and understanding customer needs
- Having a referral program
- Engaging with customers on a personal level
- Using social media
- Showing appreciation
And, of course, there can be countless other things that make customers feel valued and important, thus, leading to customer loyalty.
Building customer loyalty does not happen quickly, nor does it happen by accident. It involves thoughtful planning, effort, and follow-through. Build customer loyalty by investing in your customers. It doesn’t happen quickly, and it can take years to see the effects of that loyalty grow into something sustainable for businesses that invest their time building a relationship with each client or group. Building customer loyalty is not a stand-alone, one-time activity but instead takes continuous effort to achieve long-term results.
Never Take Loyalty for Granted
Customer loyalty is not only fragile; customer loyalty is very, very fragile. Customers are fickle, indecisive, changeable, and unpredictable. Just one small change in operations, pricing, customer service, etc., can transform a once-loyal customer into having second thoughts about continuing the business relationship or, worse yet, simply taking their business to a competitor.
The instability of customer loyalty is an important concept for every business to understand. The loyal customer of yesterday and today might very well be gone tomorrow. The business often does not even understand why the customer made the change or why many customers made the same change.
Consider Decisions Carefully
While customers might not ever see or even know about internal changes within a business, they will experience external changes that affect their relationship with the business. Keeping this concept in mind, businesses must carefully consider changes that will directly affect customers and anticipate whether such changes will positively or negatively influence the continuing relationship.
Although change is normal for any business and certainly required, changes affecting the purchase outcome are paramount.
- Will the customer still have a good purchasing experience?
- Will the change in pricing, products, services, operations, etc., be of significant importance to the customer?
- Will the change antagonize the customer enough to consider switching to a competitive business?
- Open Communication
Depending on the significance of the change being made, communicating with customers is also very important. Customer loyalty and the business relationship is a two-way street. It is not simply a business providing products and services and a customer exchanging money for those items. To build customer loyalty, a company needs communication and transparency. Therefore, specific changes that could adversely affect the ongoing business relationship should be communicated in advance with the customer via email, text message, social media, personal interaction, or phone call, depending on the relationship and magnitude of the forthcoming change.
Keep Momentum Moving
With all the time, effort, and money spent building a successful relationship with a customer, keep the momentum moving in the right direction. Continuously concentrate on customer loyalty and what it takes to continue that successful relationship while at the same time understanding and avoiding those elements that can quickly change a loyal customer into a non-customer. Businesses need loyal customers for long-term growth and sustainability, and customer loyalty is fragile; therefore, never take customer loyalty for granted.