Just ask any seasoned salesman – customer relationship management is a hard-learned art form. But if you can turn your mind to analytics, communicate regularly and offer a few incentives, it’s possible to create lasting connections that provide long-term returns. Here are a few suggestions to put you on the right path.
What Is Customer Loyalty?
When thinking of customer loyalty, it is important to think of it strictly in business terms. In this context, we are referring specifically to a customer who is willing to make repeat purchases and who acts as a proponent for your brand, product or service by spreading awareness. Trying to quantify customer loyalty is a job in and of itself and, for each company, the criteria will differ. You will need to utilize analytics and develop your own set of metrics in order to accurately track the loyalty of your customers. A hospitality venue, for example, will consider customer satisfaction to be of crucial importance and closely aligned with loyalty. Whereas for a paper wholesaler, quality of product could be the key performance indicator. Once you’ve worked out your metrics, creating and keeping customer loyalty is far easier.
How Can I Build Customer Loyalty?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Your analytics should serve as the baseline upon which your methods are predicated. Some things, however, are universally important – good communication, for example. Everyone at some point has had to wade through the drudgery of customer service and, if there is no discernible means to actually contact the company, by the time you’re writing your message or on the phone, anger and frustration have already mounted. You need to decide how visible, accessible and easy your communication channels are going to be. And, before you commit to a decision, calculate the costs of operating customer service, as the expenses may surprise you.
Complaints and suggestions shouldn’t be the only point of contact with your customers outside of the transaction – you will also want to establish a worthwhile newsletter, a functional social media presence and use conferences, live streams and fundraisers to regularly touch base. Corporate reputation is shown to affect customer loyalty and this is doubly true for companies with pre-existing favorable reputations. Even as a small business, you need to think carefully about how your actions and postings will affect your reputation (especially in the politically-charged modern climate).
What Else Should I Consider?
Brand trustworthiness and reliability is important when cultivating happy, loyal customers. A good start is to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) for your business. As an officially listed company, you will have reduced liability, less paperwork and unique tax advantages. Remember to check the regulations as they pertain to your individual state and consider using a formation service, as this can save you on hefty lawyer fees.
Customer satisfaction and loyalty deserve your undivided attention. You can develop practices to measure, build and maintain the devotion of your customers. You will enjoy the rewards for a long time to come.
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