We'll start with that all important...
It's key! If your customers aren't paying attention to you, how do you grab their attention and keep them loyal? Well, for starters:
Stand for something...
A study by the Corporate Executive Board, that included 7,000 consumers from across the U.S., found that of those consumers who said they had a strong relationship with a brand, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason. If you want loyal customers, you need them to care about you.
So what do YOU stand for?
Accentuate the positive!
While negative social proof (“Nearly 90 percent of websites don’t use heat mapping software!”) has been proven to dissuade customers rather than encourage them, numerous studies on customer motivation have shown that positive social proof (“Join 20,000 of your peers!”) is often the most effective strategy for getting people to listen. Keep up the positive vibe!
Invoke the Inner Ego...
Despite what we often say, most people like things that resemble them in some way. This cognitive bias is called implicit egotism, and is an important thing to keep in mind when communicating with customers. In order to attract the sort of customers you want, you need to identify your target customers down to the last detail and then craft a brand message that perfectly matches their goals and aspirations. It’s easier to fill this existing demand than to create a new one.
Well, no surprises here! Next up it's...
If customers don't enjoy your selling techniques then they're unlikely to do business with you again. You need to sell to customers the “correct” way if you want their loyalty.
Use the words they long to hear...
Certain persuasive words encourage customers to buy, in particular: free, new, more. When customers hear these words (and the promises they imply are backed up), they’ll be more satisfied with their purchases.
Even millionaires want a bargain but as nearly a quarter of all customers will be conservative spenders, try bundling (offering several products for sale as one combined product) or adding reassuring words (e.g. change “a £5 fee” to a “small £5 fee”).
If you want your customers to keep coming back, go above and beyond for them and get rewarded with repeat business. It's a tricky one to get right however, so here are a couple of pointers:
Pay attention to what your customers want and make their issues your issues – be proactive in addressing them.
Isolate potential issues and fix them before they become problems.
You might think that giving back to customers will be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, embrace the art of the frugal wow by understanding that reciprocity is built even with small gestures. It's the thought that counts!
Although reciprocity works incredibly well on it’s own, research shows that it is even more powerful when started by surprise. It's the unexpected gesture that will leave a lasting impression on your customers.
4. MAKE IT PERSONAL
In a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers found that waiters could increase their tips by 23 % by the simple act of returning to tables with a second set of mints. The researchers concluded that the mints created the feeling of a personalized experience among the customers who received them. So it was the personalized service received that made them enjoy their experience so much more – and brought them back.
Cultivating shared values means taking an interest in your clients and their business. Do some research on their business, understand how you play a role in their day-to-day activities, and use this information to strengthen your relationship.
5. IMPLEMENT ANTICIPATORY SERVICE
Anticipatory service is a proactive approach to customer service. Instead of waiting for problems to occur, a company that implements anticipatory service can eliminate problems before they happen.
This one is a no-brainer: You can’t create a tribe of loyal customers without an exceptional customer service experience that keeps them coming back.
7. IMPLEMENT CUSTOMER FEEDBACK SURVEYS
Customer feedback surveys are invaluable for learning how your service is performing in relation to your clients’ expectations.
8. UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER
Never deliver late or deliver short.
9. SPEED IS SECONDARY TO QUALITY
When it comes to customer service that keeps people coming back, the research shows that quality matters more than speed. According to a study by the Gallup Group, customers were nine times more likely to be engaged with a brand when they evaluated the service as “courteous, willing, and helpful,” versus the “speedy” evaluation, which only made customers six times more likely to be engaged.
10. GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Telling your employees to spend more time with customers might seem like folly, but smart entrepreneurs know that isn’t the case. Numerous behavioural psychology studies have shown that everybody views their service experience as more positive when they don’t feel rushed or ignored. Use this time wisely, though; have employees attempt to find out key customer traits.
11. CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLATFORM
The best way to improve your customer service efforts is to utilize the channel your customers most prefer. Although recent research has shown that a majority of people still prefer and use email more than other services (including social networking), you need to pick the channel that makes the most sense for your business. Hosting companies know that online chats are critical when their customers’ sites go down, but other businesses may have customers who are just fine using email as their primary method of contact.
12. MAKE IT A COMMUNAL EFFORT
Countless case studies have made one thing clear when it comes to creating an efficient support system: you need to keep everybody in the loop, customers and employees.
13. LOYALTY PROGRAMS
The key to creating customer loyalty programs that work is to know why customers use them and what gets customers to keep using them. Consumer researchers Joseph Nunes and Xavier Dreze found that people are twice as likely to keep using their loyalty cards if they are rewarded as soon as they sign up.
14. VIP CUSTOMERS
Everyone wants to feel special and additional research by Nunes on loyalty programs has revealed that customers just love being VIPs or 'Gold' members of programs. May be a touch of snobbery here but they also need to know that there is a class beneath them! Nunes saw a notable increase in gold members' spending if a lesser, silver class was introduced.