Do customers see your startup as “unique” and “innovative”? If they don’t, but you do, you need to find a way to bridge that gap.

Your business can thrive or drown depending how contented your customers are. Building customer loyalty can be hard, but it is one of the most indispensable things for your business. Satisfied customers are the key to sustainability and growth for any business. The more satisfied your customers are, the more likely your company will be successful.

Loyalty = Satisfaction

Since studies have shown that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than keep an old one, outpacing your competition depends upon having a loyal tribe of happy customers.

Uber, the on-demand car service, is rapidly building fierce loyalty. They deliver an exemplary product in their “spot-on-the-way program”. Their customer service is unparalleled, just see the way they handle complaints on Twitter, and their innovation just never quits.

Harley Davidson is another great example of fierce loyalty. Everyone wants the kind of customer loyalty they’ve achieved. Harley owners don’t just ride the bike; they wear the t-shirt, the hat and the tattoo. Being a part of the Harley community is an integral part of how they define themselves.

Consumer Reports and surveys have shown that nearly 91 percent of customers will not do business with you a second time if you make a mess of the first encounter. The amount of customers willing to immediately abandon a business reached nearly 70 percent when it came to poor service on the phone or walked out of store if the service there was below expectations, conclusively showing that customers are willing to shut you out if you don’t provide the quality of service they expect.

The worst part is that you may not know how much of an impact your poor quality of service is having before it is too late. The negative effects of lost customer trust can be deep and long-lasting.

Converting your Efforts into Strategies

According to a study by McKinsey, 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated. Customer satisfaction is a moving target; you must continually survey your customers to find out what it takes to satisfy them today, tomorrow, and the next day. Then you’ll have the data you need to figure out how you’re doing or how you can prepare against the competition.

If you have been wondering about how to increase customer loyalty and retention, the below points may throw some light:

1) Share with your customers: This can be done through a quick phone call or a friendly email or a newsletter in which you can consolidate some of the plans you have for them. For e.g. if you are planning a survey or if you have been spending time over solving some issues to make things easy for them; the resulting effect on the long-term profit can’t be underestimated.

2) Remember special occasions: Send greeting cards or small gifts on customers’ birthdays and festivals. Use your creativity and find ways to connect the gift ideas with your business or with the customers’ business or his/her personal life. It’s simple yet very engaging and adds value.

3) Hanging out: Gone are the days when you are confined to meet your clients and customers in office. Now-a-days, you can discuss business while playing golf with them, or plan your meetings over breakfast or cocktails. Furthermore, if they are on Facebook, engage them into discussions there.

4) Make it right: Resolving customer complaints is the best way to build customer loyalty. You earn the opportunity to regain customer trust, by handling complaints in a professional manner. In doing so, you connect with your customer on an emotional level. Customers love this!

5) Never take loyalty for granted: Only a successful customer loyalty and retention plan will keep the customers coming back for more. This involves keeping your word, delivering what you promise, being honest, and providing immediate response and a consistent level of products and services.

6) Loyalty Program: The overall aim is nourishing long-term relationships into impactful connections that will help in boosting your business growth. The more information you have about your customer, the more effective your loyalty program will be.

7) Listen to your customers: The average business loses around 20 percent of its customers by simply failing to listen to its customers at the right time. Therefore, always leave room for customers to make suggestions or complaints. It can be through an informal call, a quick poll or a mailer with some rapid fire questions.

8) Give credit: If you end up making a change or update anything based on your customer’s feedback, give them credit for coming up with the idea. Also, send them a little something to show your appreciation. They may respond to it positively but they appreciate it because they feel valued.

9) Build employee loyalty too: If you are transparent and consistent in your dealings, your employees will feel proud to work for you and with you. They will feel good about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to your customers.

10) Priority should be Customer Retention: Sounds obvious but it’s true. If you spend as much time in building customer loyalty as you spent on while acquiring new customers, you would surely have a very high retention rate.

The concept of loyalty in business isn’t new. Every business would like all of its customers 100 percent satisfied 100 percent of the time–but that’s not realistic. Make sure you and your customers are on the same page when it comes to what they expect from your company. What’s important is that the customer satisfaction should always be rising and then you’re surely headed in the right direction.



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