How to improve customer loyalty

There has been a lot of discussion around the lack of customer loyalty, not only in South Africa, but globally to.

There are a number of reasons for these low levels of customer loyalty, these include:

  • The rising cost of living, meaning customers have begun to search for more cost effective options.

  • A change in value perception, leading to customers redefining what is “value for money” and choosing new suppliers based on who best delivers the value customers are looking for.

  • More competition in the local and international market. Customers are now able to order online and have a wider range of people to choose to spend their money with.

  • A change in market conditions compared to what was previously seen as the norm. As society changes and shifts what it believes is the norm for certain life stages, so too does the customer profile. If a business does not keep up with these changes, they may find themselves with less customers.

  • Lastly, another factor is that of poor service levels within certain businesses, that leaves the customers feeling underwhelmed, disappointed and undervalued.

This last point is possibly the most dangerous place for a brand to find itself in. If your customers feel surprised, delighted and valued, they are far more likely to stay loyal to your brand. Customers talk about your business and brand (whether good or bad), so if you deliver good service, you are getting positive word of mouth advertising and marketing for free, this often leads to increased turnover and growth of your business.

With this in mind, it is vital that as a business and brand you show that you value your customers. Here are 3 simple ways to do just that:

1) Show your appreciation

It is just as important to gain new clients, but remember to put methods in place to retain the old ones. A loyalty or CRM programme (one that adds real value, be it in the form of special offers, discounts, pre-ordering options etc), in addition to your staff saying a simple “thank you” is a great way to show your customer that you value them.

2) Listen to what your customers are saying

We have so many platforms that allow us to communicate with our clients, but communication is more than just responding. Take the time to listen to what your customers are saying as this can help you improve your brand and offerings, as well as identify areas of concern.

Make sure you have the tools in place to track the communication and the ability to respond. Ensure you have someone available to answer customers’ calls (during operating hours), and use some automated tools to respond emails, or social media messages, giving you time to respond later with the solution. Where possible aim to solve any issues within 24 hours.

3) Be a brand that your customers want to tell others about.

If you have an online business presence, make sure that your website and app are updated regularly, and work well. Ensure all information about you is correct, and allows for a great user experience. Make sure you live up to the expectations that your customers have for you and your brand. If you are involved in the local community, share the story, if you have a CSI project, tell people about it. Give people a reason to want to be associated with you.

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