The blueprint of a brand comes to life with the accumulation of loyal customers, and it expands its reach by shaping those customers into advocates. This two-tier configuration is a launching pad.
There are two parts to the first tier. First, the customer needs to believe the services have quality. One successful transaction can plant the seed. Additional successful transactions build confidence; even when some error occurs on the side of the company, the loyal customer is ready to overlook it.
This trust ties directly into the customer’s level of allegiance. All it takes is one bad deal to push your customer to a competitor — but the loyal customer will standby because there’s usually something in it for them.
Loyalty cards and programs can be used to measure customers’ habits and keep them close.
It seems like every business has a rewards card or member program, and that’s because they work. The 2015 Bond Brand Loyalty study revealed 86 percent of those in a loyalty program feel their efforts are worth the prize and 83 percent say the program keeps them anchored to the company.
Financial service companies still lead the way with loyalty-based programs. The two most important factors to customers are being able to easily use their rewards, and being able to choose them. Cash-back rewards are the most attractive feature due to their unlimited nature. This type of freedom can launch debit card usage upwards of 200 percent.
Once a person commits to the brand, it’s important to keep the high-quality rewards in play – the competition is steep, with a surplus of 430 million credit card loyalty memberships in the U.S.
To grow loyal customers into advocates, first, institute a relationship and foster it.
The transition sparks when customers begin to tell friends about how easy it was to obtain a decent loan with low interest rates, raving about the employee who was able to seal the deal.
The humanization of the customer experience cannot be overlooked. To have a quality product or service is not enough to keep the customer interested. There are simple ways to evolve your professional relationship with the customer:
- Use their name as often as possible, including the first name when appropriate. Inclusion begets confidence, and confidence allows the customer to be more open to taking risks and trying new things.
- Learn their reasons for using your services or choosing your products. If they’re opening up a savings account for their oldest child on his twelfth birthday, ask when their other children have birthdays and send personal reminders accordingly.
- Ask them for their opinions relating to your brand by having them walk you through their experience. Face-to-face conversations can reveal more.
- Pay attention to reviews and feedback. Not all content will be positive, so keep your eyes open for weak links. Put more effort into building those up while maintaining the high level of satisfaction in other areas.
- Treat every interaction with your customers as the very first interaction and continue to learn more about them. They become more valuable with time.
An advocate not only acts as a free advertisement, but he or she will also continue to make purchases and use services – at least twice as much as the average customer. Some case studies have shown upwards of 10 times as much continued buying behavior.
Draw customers in with quality, and keep them with distinction.
In 2014, a startup investment company, OurCrowd, shared its secret to boosting customer loyalty: blending content with community. By powering and sharing content, you increase communication and, therefore, trust. Furthermore, OurCrowd discovered content wasn’t a one-dimensional marketing tool, but a bridge that filled the gaps of knowledge.
Look closely to discover what is missing in the link between your brand’s mission statement and the customer’s experience. Educate your customers, showcase your expertise, grow together and create a transparency that will boost customer relationships.