Successfully building customer loyalty is the holy grail of business, so why are small businesses reluctant to put serious work into achieving it? Achieving true customer loyalty means playing the long game, which has never been fun or easy. Especially now that seemingly everyone is addicted to their phones and willing to throw aside their old habits for whatever the cool new thing of the moment is, how do you even begin to know what makes your customers loyal?
To answer this question, I'd like to use some examples from the most loyal creature known to man: your dog.
Your dog is your biggest fan. He loves you unconditionally, he never checks Facebook when you're telling him something personal, and science proved that he won't take food from your enemies. If your customers were even a fraction as loyal to you as your dog, you would never have to worry about customer traffic. So what are man’s best friend’s secrets?
They Know You Have Their Back
One of the reasons why loyalty programs are so important is because they let your customers know they are appreciated. Businesses offer discounts to first time customers, but sometimes at the expense of their loyal customers. Your dog keeps coming back because he knows you have sacks of delicious ambiguous chow. No matter what kind of business you run, great personal service is the secret to building customer loyalty. The businesses with the best success rate at Belly are those who seize the opportunity to acquire new customers and then invite them back for a second visit. This may be the first time they have ever come through your door and they may be coming just because they smell treats. Be like your dog and be overjoyed to see them. Treat them just like a regular customer and give them a reason to come back.
Occasionally You Give Them the Good Stuff
When it comes to incentives, it's sometimes hard to know where to start with digital marketing. I have found that the businesses who do the best are the businesses who know how to give their customers a taste of the goods every once in a while just for being them. This can be a tricky road to walk because much like the way giving your dog too much chocolate will murder him, giving away too many free items can be disastrous for your business. Bacon, French fries, a dollop of delicious duck poutine; these are not food items that one expects to be given for free. However, just like with your best pooch, sometimes you need to give out the good stuff. If you're choosing to use a program like Belly to build customer loyalty, go ahead and show off your goods to recreate that level of excitement with your customers too.
This is not to say free items are the only way to keep your customers loyal and happy. Today more than ever, businesses are offering experience-based rewards to their customers. These can be adventures, one-on-one lessons, or hilarious inside jokes. Giving your customers a VIP experience will achieve a new level of intimacy with them. Our canine friends can illustrate this point too. While your dog may love you for the meatball you gave him, sometimes he immediately forgets what he just ate in anticipation for another. That’s why every once in a while a trip to the dog beach is in order. A new adventure is a great way to personally connect your customers to your business, and inviting your customers to a one-of-a-kind experience is great for building customer loyalty and making a lasting impression.
Just Being In the Room is Important
Your dog’s best quality may just be that he’s always there. When you come home after a long day of secretly watching cat videos at work, he will be there to greet you and help you relax. Your dog is the center of the party without trying to be the center of the party, and that lesson can be usefully applied to building customer loyalty using social media. Your customers spend a good deal of their time checking social accounts on their phones, so it’s important to be where they hang out. Put one of your employees in charge of your social media accounts (if you don’t know where to start, aim for one update a week) and encourage your customers to sign up. You don’t need to prod them with questions (Is there anything more unsettling than Tide’s corporate Twitter account asking if you’ve had any good stains lately?). Just share some photos, keep them updated with offers, and give them a Like or a Retweet when they give you a shout out. Everyone needs a little validation, and in this realm dogs are unbeatable. And remember, Belly helps you automate your social media marketing too. Whenever a customer checks in at your business, they’ll be prompted to share their visit on Facebook and Twitter. It’s word of mouth marketing without lifting a finger!
Building customer loyalty is a vast topic and sometimes the rapid expansion of technology can make it seem like an overwhelming task. At the end of the day, be like your dog and don’t sweat it. The result of all this complex technology is a playing field where you can showcase your personality plain and simple. You already have what your customers want. With a focus on customer loyalty, you have the ability to always be by their side.
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[Photo Credit: http://barnimages.com]