Many businesses aspire to build loyal customer bases. In the age of online shopping, that can seem like a fool’s errand, as online shoppers have a reputation of being obsessed with the bottom line and willing to take their business anywhere that offers the best deal. But studies cast doubt on that reputation and highlight just how important customer loyalty can be to a business’s long-term success.
According to a 2018 from InMoment, a firm devoted to helping businesses compete in the experience economy, 77 percent of consumers say they’ve held relationships with specific brands for 10 years or more, while 75 percent admit they will recommend a brand to friends and family. Building such loyalty can help business owners meet both their short- and long-term goals.
Building a loyal customer base is not an overnight process, but one that requires patience and perseverance on the part of business owners. Various strategies can inspire customer loyalty, and business owners can employ as many of these tactics as they feel necessary to promote the long-term success of their companies.
• Emphasize exceptional customer service. Customer service is essential to building a loyal customer base that can serve as the foundation for the growth of a business. In a 2018 survey from Hubspot, 80 percent of respondents indicated they would stop doing business with a company because of a poor customer experience, while 93 percent admitted they are more likely to make repeat purchases with customers that offer excellent customer service. Promptly respond to customer inquiries, issues and complaints, and make every effort to ensure every customer experience is a positive one.
• Encourage customers to share their experiences. Encouraging customers to share their experiences is a great way to engage customers and learn about what they like or don’t like about a business. The internet may seem like a sounding board for negativity, but one especially appealing demographic is more likely to tell others about a good experience than a bad one. In 2017, the American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer found that millennials tell an average of 17 people when they get great care, but only 15 people when their experiences are poor. These customers want to share their positive experiences, and encouraging them to do so can be a great for business.
• Request feedback about customer service. Business owners won’t know what their customers are thinking about their service experience unless they ask. When fine-tuning customer service policies, include customer feedback sessions at the end of each support session. Such feedback can give business owners an idea of what their customer service experiences were like, and as already noted, such experiences can be the greatest driver of loyalty.
It’s possible to build loyal customers in the age of online shopping. A strong emphasis on customer service is essential to such a process.