Customer experience. This is what it boils down to when it comes to creating loyalty in your customers. If you can offer high-quality experiences for your customers, you’ll eventually win their trust and their loyalty.
Apple is a company that has personified this quality, making the customer experience a major part of their business model.
Everything from their beautiful website with its delightful product pictures and animations to the beautifully designed and easy-to-work-with packaging in which their products arrive provides an elevated experience to the customer. And even after buying the product, they’re not left hanging dry. They provide excellent after-sales support online and onsite via their stores’ genius bars.
As a result, it’s no wonder that, even today, they still have their lions’ share of die-hard loyal customers—the kind which every company dreams to have.
And Apple is just one example.
You can see this happening with other companies as well, both big and small. Nordstrom, ConvertKit, Harley Davidson and others. They all boost loyal customers which helps these aforementioned companies thrive —all because they differentiate (and pride) themselves based on their ability to provide a better customer experience.
Now, the good news is that there is no single way to improve customer experience. There are many. And this means you have plenty of options to choose from.
In this article, we will share five effective ways you can delight your customers to increase their loyalty to your brand.
1. Deliver High-Quality Products/Services
Under-promise and over-deliver. This is a saying that every business should keep in mind when selling products and services.
Because when a customer buys your product or service, they have certain expectations in mind. About how it will work. What it will do. How reliable it will be. How convenient.
If you can exceed these expectations your customers have about the products/services you sell, you will create loyal customers who will do business with you again and again.
Think of all the companies that have loyal customers: Apple, Disney, Amazon, Harley Davidson, McDonald’s. While their marketing does play a big role in attracting new customers, it’s their products and services that make them keep coming back.
If your products/services can also satisfactorily fulfill the needs of your customers and exceed their expectations in terms of quality, reliability, and convenience, you too can increase the number of customers loyal to your business.
Remember that, in the end, it’s your products and services which will determine whether or not your customers will stay.
2. Build a World-Class Customer Service Department
Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. This is as true in business as it is in life. You can build the best product in the world or create the best service, yet, if you can’t support your customers after they’ve paid for it, you’ll gradually (and sometimes, instantly) lose their trust.
No product or service is or will be perfect (including yours). This means there’s a 99.99% chance your customers will run into a problem at one point or another. If they’re left hanging with no one to help them solve it, they will ultimately be unsatisfied with the product itself. They might never do business with you again, and, instead, they even consider running to your competitor.
That’s why you need to focus on creating a professional customer support team that can help your customers if they have a problem with your product/service.
Here are some ways you can ensure your customer service stands out above the rest:
- Be available 24/7 (or at least as long as possible): The number one problem today’s customers face is that businesses take too long to respond to customer queries. By offering speedy responses, you can increase your customers’ confidence in your services.
Live chat is one way of doing that as 79% of customers prefer live chat over email or social media due to its immediacy. The speed of response makes it or breaks it, as customers might even choose to stop using a product or service because of slow response times.
- Have an omnichannel presence: By being available on multiple channels (i.e. social media, call, email, SMS, etc.), you can become more reliable in the eyes of your customers. After all, some prefer contacting support via email while others might choose to call.
- Employ professional staff: Your business will get customer service requests from all kinds of customers (tech-savvy, novice, helpful, unreasonable, angry) but it will be your customer support team’s job to make sure every single one of these customers leaves as satisfied as possible. That can only happen when your staff is well-trained and knowledgeable about your product/service.
You can also invest in producing helpful content for your audience. For example, if you sell cameras on your online store, you can write (or hire a writer to write) articles on how to become a better photographer. If, on the other hand, you have a complicated product or service, you can teach your customers how best to use it by creating a knowledge base and even an FAQ page.
The opportunities and methods of providing customer support are varied and endless, and it’s up to you to decide what’s the best way you can support your customers.
3. Delight Your Customers with Unexpected Surprises
The first and second strategy go through the things you absolutely should do for your customers. After all, providing high-quality products and good customer support is what’s expected of any business worth its salt.
But still, while a good product and good customer support service make you competitive, they are oftentimes not enough to make you stand out.
For this to happen, you have to go above-and-beyond doing the obvious things. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Offer better shipping options: Ecommerce giants like Amazon have made people think that free shipping is to be expected. Not doing so leads to fewer sales since people start looking for alternative stores that do offer free shipping. If you cannot offer free shipping due to your low-profit margins, another way to go is offering fast or priority shipping—as customers are still likely to pay for faster deliveries.
- Give out discount codes: There are many holidays and events that come around every year, so why not offer a discount code to celebrate? From Christmas to Valentine’s Day, you’ve got lots of options. Don’t forget Black Friday—one of the biggest shopping events of the year. You can cash in by providing discounts and exciting bundles for your products and services during these occasions, plus your customers will love that.
- Use gift cards to give a small bonus: In addition to discounts, gift cards are also a great way to delight the customers and incentivize them to buy your products or use your services. These are especially effective for new customers who are doing business with you for the first time or for customers who are going through special milestones like birthdays, weddings or some other special events.
4. Keep Customers Engaged with Incentives And Reward Programs
If your customers successfully keep coming back to you to buy your products/services, you can reward them for their loyalty with incentives. Incentives encourage customers to stick to your business even more since it means the more they buy, the less they pay.
Now, there are many ways you can incentivize your customers. Here are a few effective methods:
1. Gift Cards
Gift cards, like discount coupons, can be given to customers to reward them for their loyalty to your business. But that’s not all. Customers who enjoy your products and services can purchase your gift cards and give them to their friends, family, and colleagues. Gift cards can be used both to encourage loyal customers to keep coming back as well as a marketing tool to spread the word about your brand.
2. Loyalty Programs
With loyalty programs, customers can receive points for every purchase they make with your business. The more purchases they complete, the more points the customer gets. After they have accumulated a set number of points, you can give them a reward like a free item, a gift card, a free service for a set amount of months and more. Loyalty programs are effective since they gamify the whole process. The more you buy, the closer you are to “winning” the game.
3. Membership Cards
Membership cards work the same way as loyalty programs, but they offer more flexibility in terms of what you can offer to your customers. For example, people who have a membership card can get access to valuable deals and discounts not available to the general public. Maybe they can get free shipping no matter the size of their order. This makes membership cards very effective as your loyal customers feel part of an exclusive club. And if that doesn’t increase loyalty, nothing will.
5. Ask And Implement Customer Feedback
The best way to improve your customers’ experience with your business is to listen to their suggestions and complaints by acquiring their feedback. Because you can do whatever experiments you want—but no data will be as effective for your business as a customer’s suggestions after interacting with your brand and products/services.
There are many ways you can ask your customers for feedback:
- Ask for feedback when they contact you for support.
- Send an email or SMS with a link to a customer survey that they can fill in.
If you want to persuade them to complete a long feedback survey, you can offer them a discount or a gift card in exchange. This increases the probability that your customers will give you feedback.
To create a feedback survey, you can use a service like SurveyMonkey (paid) or Google Forms (free).
By asking customers for feedback—and implementing their suggestions—you can increase your customers’ loyalty as you’ll be showing that you care about their experience with your brand.
The most famous example of this strategy in action is when a guy on Twitter asked Elon Musk to add a “dog mode” to Tesla cars. Elon Musk replied with a simple “yes” and rolled out the feature the same year. In addition to creating publicity, this move showed Tesla customers that he and his company were listening to them and their needs.
What’s Your First Move?
Without loyal customers, your business is like a bucket with a hole. No matter how many customers you bring, they will eventually fall out and drift to one of your competitors. On the other hand, loyal customers buy more, cost less to keep, and help develop a positive brand image for your business.
The key to getting loyal customers is, as we mentioned at the start, to improve your customers’ experience.
You can move one (or many steps) closer to a smooth customer experience and now you know some of the ways to do that:
- Deliver products and services which exceed expectations.
- Provide reliable support in case they run into problems.
- Ask and act on your customers’ complaints and suggestions for improvement.
- Provide clients with rewards and incentives.
Which strategy will you try first?