Five Ways to Maintain Customer Loyalty in the Age of the Internet Consumer
In a lot of ways, the basic truths of customer loyalty still hold true to this day. For most consumers, customer loyalty is a tried and true function of product quality, service, and economy — that hasn’t changed. What has changed in recent years, and especially in recent months, are the many of the other aspects of building and maintaining customer loyalty. With businesses moving online, how can brands build loyalty without that personal touch you get in face-to-face interaction? The following tips will help your brand to not only maintain that personal touch but also to boost customer loyalty from a distance.
Humanize the Customer Experience
Putting a face, a voice, even a sense of humor on your brand can instantly increase connection and retention. Humans are social creatures; we don’t want to talk to mechanical sounding anonymous drones. We’re wired for conversation. Does these mean your representatives should try to talk customers’ ears off about their favorite things to binge on TV? Of course not. But simply setting it up to have representatives associated with a name and a face, and allowing them some elbow room for humor, casual niceties, and a little bit of personality can go a long way toward making customer interactions more personal and, crucially, leave a lasting positive impression.
Another tip to try is an investment in video. Most brands are aware of the many strengths of visual communication, but a lot of them stop short, only posting images. Video is a great way to engage more personally with your customers. Not only is video a great vehicle for delivering information quickly and effectively to customers, but it has the added benefit of letting your customers see your world in motion, and hear it too — real people, with their own mannerisms, accents, quirks. It will be much easier for your customers to relate to your team than through pictures alone.
Innovating and improving your products and services is ever-important, but staying relevant these days goes beyond that. The average consumer frankly doesn’t have the patience for brands that aren’t keeping up. If you want to understand staying relevant in terms of the modern internet consumer, simply imagine where you would rather have an ad, on Myspace, or on Instagram?
Customers are going to remain loyal to the brands that keep up with them. These days it’s not enough simply to have a website and show off your product. The fact is, if you build it, they won’t come. You have to go to them. Showing that you can meet your customers on their turf, and remain up to date without seeming like you’re trying too hard, can be a bit of a fine-tuned process. Which is why it’s all the more important to invest your creative talent into.
Reward Loyal Customers
This one is pretty straightforward. Your customers don’t have to come back to you time and time again, but many will choose to anyway. One way to ensure that this wheel continues to turn is to grease it. Loyalty discounts and rewards will have customers coming back not just to claim those discounts or rewards, but time and time again after that. Although it’s often the most effective, the rewards don’t even have to be monetary. As long as you are demonstrating to your customers that you appreciate them, you’ll be doing a lot more than the many companies that go radio silent after checkout.
For example, allowing frequent customers access to exclusive content, or early access to new product launches, sales, etc. is a great way to show your customers you care. Loyalty stamp cards and prepaid cards are a tried and true method of reward for loyal customers, capable of turning a one time sale into a repeating customer. Whatever you do, do something. Simply making sure that your customer’s loyalty doesn’t go unnoticed is a great way to ensure that you don’t lose it.
Foster Positive Customer Reviews
These days, reviews are make or break. The internet consumer is incredibly discerning, and with countless options right at their fingertips, it’s easier now than ever for customers to make sure they’re getting the best deal possible. A lot of that decision isn’t based on the physical specifications of the product or technical qualities of the services, but on subjective reviews thereof and of the overall consumer experience. This is good news for brands! It means that not only is there a clear cut way to improve your numbers in terms of drawing more customers to you instead of losing them to competitors but also, since these reviews are mostly opinion-based, it means that there’s plenty you can do right now to impact the reviews without even changing the product or service itself.
The first tip for improving customer reviews is being there — being on the same sites where customers are leaving their reviews so you can address them head-on. This leads into the next tip: adequately responding to negative reviews. Negative reviews can be a death sentence, but usually only when they’re left to rot. Rotting in this sense refers to a negative review that goes unaddressed by the brand. It just sits there, turning off consumers to wanting to be your customers. Instead, try to address the concerns laid out in these reviews in a way that is tactful, helpful, and demonstrates to other customers that the issues which resulted in a negative review are being fully addressed or else do not speak to the typical customer experience.
Don’t be afraid to be proactive in seeking reviews. If you’ve had a good customer experience, don’t hesitate to ask for a moment of the customer’s time to share their experience. Make it easy for your happy customers to engage with your company. This is where this step becomes more than a general tip about customer draw, and becomes also a way to build customer loyalty through participation. If your customers feel like they’re being heard, not only will their reviews draw in other potential customers, but also your customers are going to be more likely to develop loyalty to your brand.
Get into the Conversation
Participate! We’ve all seen it, brands will drop a question to their audience, claiming to be interested in the lives of their loyal customers, never to be seen within the comments. We’ve also probably come across the other side of that coin: brands freely engaging with their followers in the comments, responding directly to questions and feedback, and showing a little bit of personality.
This, of course, will depend on the type of messages you’re putting out there and receiving, but, similar to the last section, many customers simply want to be heard. No one wants to feel like they’re shouting into the void. Customers will feel valued when they feel like they’re part of the conversation. And it doesn’t even have to be strictly about your products or services. As long as you’re making an effort to engage with your audience, you’re going to see an increase in customer loyalty.