In today’s crowded marketplace, more and more companies are competing for the needs and wants of the consumer. With online shopping and social media, it’s easier than ever for customers to seek out and find the products and deals they want. With such a saturation, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out among the crowd.
Many consumers are looking for the best deal; the highest quality at the lowest price. Increased competition from foreign markets and a rise in production of consumer goods has led the average customer to believe that there’s always a better deal. However, in order to combat the less is more attitude of modern consumerism, brands can utilize a variety of strategies to entice and maintain a customer base. These are five certified practices that can help ensure loyal consumers, whether you are an established company or a newcomer to the market.
While this may seem a bit obvious, quality should be king when it comes to your product or service. Simply put, if you have the best product on the market, or provide the best services above all competitors, then customers will continue to come back, regardless of any additional effort you put in. Companies like John Deere and Rolls Royce consistently provide top quality products, and they rarely have to provide extra incentives for their customers. Their names have become synonymous with being the best.
There is an old saying when it comes to salesmanship: “the product should be able to sell itself.” Whether you are selling cookies or providing baking equipment, if you are the best, then you will keep your customers happy. Above all else, make sure that the quality of your brand is as high as it possibly can be. It may take a while to get there, but once your name is associated with greatness, it will take a lot to bring you down.
This may seem similar to Quality, but value does not only encompass the inherent value of the product or service. Added value can be something as simple as helping a customer out, acknowledging them outside of the seller/consumer dynamic, or offering extra incentives to go with your brand.
An example of this could be an auto repair shop having a child daycare center so customers can have a place for their children to play while they wait for their car to be finished. By going the extra mile and providing extra services and incentives for your customers, it increases the overall value of the brand, and helps consumers to feel like they are getting the most out of their dollar. It could be as simple as offering coffee and doughnuts, or as big as a daycare center, but it all adds up to a better customer experience, which will keep them coming back.
With the increasing presence of social media, engaging with your customers has never been easier. Prior to Facebook and Twitter, the only way for consumers to speak to a company was by calling customer support or visiting them in person.
Social media is an advantageous tool both for customers and businesses, as long as it’s used correctly. While it’s popular for consumers to voice their complaints online, it’s important that businesses help steer the dialog in a positive direction, and encourage pleasant feedback. By enabling brands to talk directly to consumers, it helps to create a bond that will encourage lasting loyalty. It’s also important not only to engage, but to listen and respond to customer feedback, even if it’s negative. If a customer complains about service and receives a quick response and, better yet, a solution to the problem at hand, then they are much more willing to return to the brand, as they ultimately left with a positive association.
Along with Quality, customer service should reign supreme with any brand. If there are two competing companies with similar products, then customers will go to the one with the best customer service, as it helps to increase the overall value of the business.
Customer service can be as simple as wishing a customer happy birthday, or as involved as solving a major problem that they are facing. By being attentive and receptive to customer’s needs and wants, and ideally anticipating them, you can greatly improve and strengthen the relationship between business/consumer, which will go a long way towards increasing brand loyalty.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to foster loyalty is by providing the customer a reason to keep coming back. One of the more ubiquitous trends is a customer loyalty card, which provides a free product or service after so many visits. Similarly, department and grocery stores also offer reward cards that offer discounts on many products; some even offer points to be redeemed for free merchandise.
Going a step further, however, is offering rewards that aren’t just tied to how frequently the customer shops at your store. Through social media and online marketing, businesses can reward customers in a variety of ways, targeting the incentives as narrowly or broadly as they like. Contests and giveaways are a great way to get customers engaged and excited about a brand, as long as you maintain and nurture positive feedback throughout. In addition, simple promotions such as birthday gifts for customers show that you appreciate their business, which will inspire them to come back for more.
Ultimately, the best way for a business to create and maintain a loyal customer base is to build relationships with customers. Whether a Fortune 500 company or a mom and pop startup, it’s important that you talk to customers, find out what they want, and meet or ideally exceed their expectations. The more time and effort a business takes into investing in this relationship, the better and more valuable the return on investment.