Entrepreneurs

Five Secrets To Building Brand Loyalty

By Kailynn Bowling, co-founder of ChicExecs PR & Retail Strategy Firm.

Every business wants loyal customers, but loyalty is pretty tough to come by these days. According to one analysis, 77% of brands could disappear and nobody would care. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

If you want customers to remember your business, you need to build a loyal following. But loyalty isn’t something you deserve; customer loyalty has to be earned. 

The good news is that once you crack the code on customer loyalty, you’ll spend a lot less time chasing down revenue. Repeat customers spend more than new customers anyway.

Loyalty shouldn’t just be about convincing shoppers to buy from you. It’s about forging meaningful relationships with the people who keep your business going. If you’re struggling to crack customer loyalty beyond 2021, here are five secrets to keep in mind: 

1. Create a brand worth following.

Did you create an intentional brand for your business or did branding just kind of happen? The issue is that customers can’t be loyal to an unclear, untrustworthy or otherwise clunky brand. 

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Whether you realize it or not, you have a brand. From your mission to your values to your visual identity, your brand personality can have an impact on customer loyalty. Why do you think brands like Target have a cult-like following? It’s all about creating a solid identity. 

If you haven’t already, rethink your brand. Is there anything that needs clarifying? Is anything inconsistent, outdated or not aligned with your customers’ needs? Make sure your brand is worth following before you put in the work to attract more loyal customers. 

2. Fix what’s broken.

Customers are loyal to brands that treat them well. But if your online ordering system is on the fritz or if you never receive customers’ live chats, you can’t create positive experiences that lead to real loyalty. 

Instead of letting problems crop up and dealing with them at the moment, seek out what’s broken in your business and fix it! Whether it’s your e-commerce checkout, website forms or Wi-Fi at your physical location, there’s always an opportunity for improvement. When you proactively solve these issues, customers are much more likely to reward you with their loyalty. 

3. Invest in your team.

Trader Joe’s is a popular brand because its employees treat shoppers so well. Why? Because Trader Joe’s treats its employees well. When you treat your team well, they’ll do the same for your customers. Engaged, happy and motivated employees will always outperform burned-out, demotivated team members. 

Attitude is everything, so if you want employees to be more loyal to you, start with your corporate culture. That might mean adjusting your pay structures, offering more work-life balance or simply supporting your team so they can give customers their best work every day. 

4. Make customer service your priority.

Customer service is the No. 1 reason customers leave brands. The thing is, your shoppers don’t want anything special, they just want you to treat them kindly, resolve their issues quickly and support their needs. 

Instead of spending your budget on things like office equipment or an ad campaign, consider overhauling your customer service infrastructure first. That might mean: 

• Hiring more customer service reps. 

• Adding live chat to your website. 

• Signing up for services like Zendesk to offer 24/7 support. 

If you have really rigid return policies or shipping costs, rethink those, too. When it comes to customer service, it’s better to give your shoppers more leeway than it is to be a tightfisted stickler. The last thing you want to do is hurt a customer who has a valid issue, so focus on making things right.

5. Build a community.

Have you ever seen the Instant Pot community on Facebook? These customers are diehard Instant Pot fans who hype each other up with recipes, stories, tips and how-tos. Instant Pot doesn’t even have to create a lot of content in the group! Customers do all of the hard work for the brand. 

If you want to build a similar following for your business, give shoppers a way to interact with each other. A social component helps customers build more positive experiences around your brand, which is exactly what you need to boost loyalty. 

The Bottom Line

You can kick off your customer loyalty efforts by creating a VIP or loyalty program, but that might not be the right first step. Sometimes you need to revisit your brand, internal structures and service before you try pushing for retention. Start with these five lesser-known tips to give customers what they want to see — it just might take your business to the next level.

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