The importance of loyal customers is undeniable. Not only do they buy from you repeatedly, but they also refer new customers to your brand. They build your image as an honest and trustworthy company to do business with.
Some companies make the mistake of throwing all their resources toward converting prospects into customers. Of course, you need as many first-time buyers as you can get. Just don’t forget to also make a major investment in keeping purchasers loyal to your brand over time. It costs much less to keep a customer than to cultivate a new one.
Competition is fierce out there, and building enduring relationships with your customers is vital to your long-term success. So make sure you cement shoppers’ loyalty after they buy. Here are a few ways you can.
Take Product Instructions Up a Notch
Products of all kinds need user instructions. They might just consist of illustrations depicting the direction in which the batteries should go. Or they might be dense manuals about the operation of a complex device.
If you have ever been frustrated by the wordless assembly instructions for an Ikea flat pack, take note. Even basic instructions may be challenging for the average customer. Remember that the audience for this technical writing has a far different experience base than your designers and developers.
You may need to seek out technical writing services to get the job done right. These professionals have the ability to translate often complicated information into a language the average person can comprehend. They can also create interactive instruction manuals for customers, which is a definite plus in the digital age. Static instructions may suffice, but putting your graphics in motion is a far better way to increase understanding.
It’s also critical to keep instructions and other content consistent when changes are made. Make certain that your chatbots call center help desk, and your customer are all literally reading from the same page. When you make a change in one place, make it everywhere with the click of a component content management system.
Once customers open the product box, the way you’ve created, presented and maintained your content should prove you have their backs. Rather than causing the usual some-assembly-required frustration, you’ll be delivering truly exceptional service after the sale.
Keep in Touch Throughout the Process and Beyond
These days, almost 80% of consumers shop online at least once a month. Those who pay for whatever they put into their shopping cart expect more than crickets once they make a purchase. Make sure you stay in touch.
In a digital, fast-food, next-day-delivery society, there’s a desire to know what’s happening with an order at every step. Confirm the order and notify customers when it ships, from where, how, and when it should appear on their doorstep. If there’s a delay, don’t leave them hanging. If it’s arriving sooner, let them know.
Check in with buyers as soon as you receive delivery confirmation. Don’t just assume a customer actually has the package. Delivery to wrong addresses, package thefts, and dishonest delivery employees happen. If it’s not at a buyer’s door when it’s supposed to be, reship the order immediately, then investigate what happened.
Whether you sell online or in person, don’t be a stranger after the sale. Follow up to make sure customers are happy with products and enable them to return them if they aren’t. Then work toward the next sale by offering discounts or free shipping on something else they may be interested in buying.
Even if you don’t hear back from your customers, continue employing well-timed emails, texts, or other means of contact. If you don’t stay on their radar, they may forget you in the interim. Avoid being a pest, but do make yourself unforgettable.
Reward Customers for Doing Business With You
Everybody loves a bonus. Free gifts and special discounts provide customers with extra incentives to buy your products. Who doesn’t love a good buy-one-get-one offer?
Rewards, in and of themselves, may increase sales, but they won’t necessarily build brand loyalty. If your competitors are offering similar incentives, customers are just as likely to buy from them as from you. Loyalty requires an element of exclusivity.
A great example of rewards sure to bring customers back is Kohl’s Cash. Customers get $10 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 they spend. They get a coupon if they shop in the store or an emailed coupon if they buy online. If they register a shopping account, the account stores the cash automatically, so the customer is never without it.
Some customers are willing to pay for exclusivity, like an Amazon Prime membership that rewards them with free shipping. What happens to loyalty when customers pay for it? One survey showed they were 60% more likely to buy from the brand. That’s twice the number of those in free loyalty programs.
Cash, discounts, free shipping, free merch — they are all incentives to remain loyal to your brand. After all, there is a use-it-or-lose-it mentality attached to them. How loyal customers stay will depend on how you structure your efforts.
Ask For and Act On Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is crucial to your ability to both improve your products and the customer experience. Think of it as a performance review of your brand. And while the one-time buyer’s input is helpful, the feedback from customers with longer relationships is priceless.
Asking customers for their input creates work for them, so make it easy and worth their time and effort. If they don’t respond right away to a request to review their experience, send them a gentle reminder later. Don’t bombard them, but do keep the response window limited. You want the review while the transaction is still fresh in their mind.
Be prepared to take the bad comments with the good. Moreover, be prepared to act on criticism by addressing it with your customers and taking corrective action. That’s how you’ll cement the type of loyalty that will bolster trust in your company and keep customers coming back.
Let’s say you have a repeat customer who posts a two-star review about your product on social media. If you reach out to that buyer and make things right, they are more likely to keep buying from you. That’s because your brand has demonstrated its loyalty to your customers, who will reciprocate. Conducting this reach-out on the same social media channel will also demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction to other audience members.
Customer feedback and your brand’s responses build relationships with customers, not just sales. Engaging with them when they’re pleased and when they do not make them feel seen and heard. That’s just what they should expect from a relationship that lasts long after their initial purchase.
Building a Bonding Experience
First-time buyers are hoping they have a good experience but aren’t necessarily seeking a long-term relationship. You, on the other hand, are looking for both, because that’s the best outcome for your brand.
Loyalty is built on mutual respect and trust, so make sure both elements are part of everything you do. Get your mix of relationship-building cement, sand, and water just right, and customers will stick with you.