How to Win (and Keep) Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is not always easy to win, and it’s even harder to keep. As most businesses know, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. It’s not just a matter of satisfying customers—it’s all about giving them the kinds of experiences that make them want to come back over and over again. So what does it take to make this happen? Consider these five tips for winning customer loyalty.

Make the payment process effortless

The more you reduce customer effort, the more people will support your brand. This idea is especially relevant to the purchase process, as a complicated experience can turn off customers. Simplify the checkout process across all channels by making it easy for customers to add items to a cart, redeem coupons, and ultimately make a purchase with a secure payment system. Allow customers to log in easily to their accounts and use saved credit card information, and follow up swiftly with order confirmation and delivery information.

Foster an emotional connection

In Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman’s book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, he makes the fascinating claim that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. Put simply, these decisions are driven by emotions, and selling the benefits of a product is not enough. Rather, it’s essential to tap into the feelings of your customers. For example, when advertising a running shoe, the basic description of the product with a reasonable price may not impress your customers. However, describing how such a shoe can make a person meet a goal—such as running a marathon—is far more effective in stirring a response from a potential customer.

Personalize each experience

Customers want products and services designed especially for them. Indeed, Edelman cites that 80% of consumers say that they are more likely to purchase from a brand with personalized service. Take measures such as sending personalized product recommendations, making special offers on birthdays, and training service agents to forge a human connection with customers during interactions.

Offer a paid loyalty program

Rewarding customers for loyalty is a standard practice for many brands. While some customers may enjoy earning loyalty points toward a major discount, some studies have shown that paid loyalty programs may actually be more worthwhile for customers and companies alike. A Colloquy study found that only 42% of loyalty program members are active or engaged, as many people simply do not understand all their benefits and neglect to use them. Recently, many brands have found success with paid loyalty programs that allow customers to enjoy the specific benefits they want. Perhaps the most well-known example is Amazon’s Prime membership, which offers members perks such as free expedited shipping, unlimited video streaming, and  discounts on specific items. Sephora’s Flash program offers unlimited free expedited shipping for a small annual fee, while furniture retailer Restoration Hardware gives customers free interior design consultations and early access to sales events in exchange for an annual fee.

Adopt a customer-centric attitude

Any brand that wants to earn loyalty must adopt a customer-centric attitude. This means getting the whole company involved in understanding how customers think, what they want, and how all employees may work together to deliver the best service. Engage the entire organization in analyzing customer feedback and discussing brand values, and then implement strategies that promote seamless customer experiences. Winning customer loyalty begins with taking the perspective of your customers. By understanding their motivations and designing products and services they want, you will appeal to their tastes and ensure they come back for more.

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