Customer loyalty and how to create it

Customers can be fickle in today’s technology-fuelled landscape, and once you’ve managed to cut through all of the noise to capture a customer, how do you keep them? Colin Hay (pictured), vice-president of sales at Puzzel UK, a customer interaction solutions provider, gives his top tips for creating and retaining loyal customers

You often hear sales gurus say it’s easier to keep existing customers than to find new ones, They will quote the 80:20 rule, where 80 per cent of a company’s business comes from 20 per cent of its customer base. However, in a world with social media where negative viral customer comments can threaten an organisation’s good reputation, how do you keep your valued customers happy and prevent them from straying to the competition?

Here are our top tips for building and maintaining customer loyalty:

  • Omni-channel not multichannel – offer customer service through the customer’s channel of choice but make it a seamless experience. Giving people the same level of service, whatever the channel, is the true meaning of omni-channel and it will turn them into loyal customers.
  • Never underestimate the impact of digital transformation – it’s a fact that those in the 18 to 34 age bracket, tomorrow’s super-spenders, are more likely to quit a brand because of a poor service experience. What is more, it is this same millennial generation who turn to social media when they are not happy, with 47 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds admitting to using social media to complain, compared with 12 per cent in the 55+ age group. It’s time to nurture this growing consumer segment who also expect to shop in a mobile, self-serve environment. Take a look at your offering on a smartphone or tablet – is it mobile-responsive? Are there features that accelerate and enhance the overall experience, such as click-to-call for assistance?
  • Review your social customer service – there’s no getting away from it, social media is here to stay. Turn this to your advantage by engaging proactively through social media. Create a platform for customers to exchange ideas, feedback and knowledge. This type of social forum will foster a spirit of inclusivity and encourage learning across your customer base. Take it one step further by rewarding ‘super users’ who share valuable intelligence to help the broader community.
  • Make life easy for customers – leverage technology to reduce customer effort. Why not publish answers to the most frequently-asked questions on your company website or provide a web chat facility for straightforward enquiries?
  • Make customers feel special – all customers like to feel valued. Follow up interactions with personalised calls or e-mails to make customers feel special. Why not take advantage of digital marketing, based on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data, to prioritise VIP customers? Both tactics will guarantee increased satisfaction ratings and promote longer-term loyalty.
  • Remember the customer journey – why do customers contact you in the first place? It is surprising how few organisations actually do this exercise. Understanding what motivates customers to call – for example, by looking out for repeat-contact reasons, will give you the information you need to realign your customer service strategy and introduce a set of relevant, effective tactics.
  • Drink your own champagne – check out your customer’s buying experience. Try out some mystery shopping on your own company – phone your helpline, initiate a web chat conversation and see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Is it easy to navigate around your company website to find the information you need quickly? Introducing this ‘outside-in’ approach to viewing your customer’s journey could be a revelation and even a wake-up call to kick-start different ways of working within your company.