21 Sure-Fire Ways to Encourage Customer Loyalty
From providing excellent service and top-notch products to hiring the right people, here are 21 ways to boost customer loyalty that you can implement today.
If you operate any type of sales business, customer loyalty is one of the most important keys to company growth. Whether you’re an eCommerce seller or a brick-and-mortar retail pro, you undoubtedly want to keep shoppers returning to your store.
So, how do you accomplish this all-important feat? By offering amazing products at great prices, while ensuring customers receive the best service possible? Yes, those are obviously crucial components to any good business plan. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Fortunately, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide that includes 21 ways to encourage customer loyalty. Keep reading to learn real-world tips on how to implement each of them into your business today.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
One of the most important facets of any successful customer loyalty strategy is customer service. If you want to encourage shoppers to come back to your store, you need to make sure they are receiving the best service possible each and every time they interact with you, your shop and your team.
The reasoning behind this strategy is simple. No matter how great your products or prices are, most customers won’t return if their experience with your company is a negative one. In fact, as we covered in a previous article, approximately half of American consumers recently reported having switched in the previous year over poor customer service.
On the flipside of that negative statistic, our recent article on customer retention cites a study in which 73% of shoppers say they fall in love with brands and remain loyal due to friendly customer service reps.
Good or bad, your customer service can make or break brand loyalty. By ensuring all customers enjoy a great experience with your brand, you can begin to build a fiercely loyal customer base.
There are a few ways to shore up your customer service. First, train your staff to respond to all inquiries in a friendly and timely manner. Second, make sure all of your team members are well-versed in the products you sell and can answer questions knowledgeably. Finally, service reps should actively listen to customers in order to offer solutions that are uniquely suited to their individual needs. Those needs could be anything from product suggestions to usage instructions.
Regardless of what the customer is seeking, the end result should always be the same. All customers should leave your shop feeling delighted and completely satisfied by their shopping experience.
Make Shopping Easy
Obviously, if you want to improve customer loyalty, you need to make sure the actual shopping experience is an easy one. While this approach may seem like a bit of a no-brainer, let’s explore it a little further.
Difficult Shopping Scenario
Imagine you need to buy various decorative items for your new house. But the first website you visit to search for the products you want is convoluted and not very user-friendly.
First of all, there’s no drop-down menu containing item categories. Everything the site sells is just displayed on a page in no discernible order. There’s also no search functionality that you can use to find the exact items you want.
Once you DO happen to find the products you need, the Add to Cart button is hidden way down at the bottom of the page. And once you finally find and click the Add to Cart button, you get an error message. We all know that’s the end of your shopping attempt at this particular store, and you won’t be revisiting it.
Easy Shopping Scenario
Now imagine the second home decor website you visit is completely different. There’s a convenient drop-down list of item categories. That list includes categories such as curtains, bed linens, decorative items, bathroom accessories and the like.
There’s also a convenient search bar that enables you to find that one particular item you already know you want. And the Add to Cart button is prominently displayed right underneath each item.
Once you’ve added the products you want to your cart, the checkout process is also seamless. Within just a few minutes of shopping, you’ve found and bought everything you need and have been emailed a receipt with an order confirmation number. Now this is a store you’ll visit again when you need similar products. You’ll also probably recommend the shop to your friends.
Sell High-Quality Goods
Once you’ve tightened up your customer service and made sure you’re offering buyers an easy shopping experience, the next step to improving customer loyalty is to sell top-quality products.
This is true whether you run a niche specialty shop or a big box retail establishment. No matter the price point of your items, if customers frequently receive sub-par products from your store, they won’t come back. They may even write bad reviews that further hurt your sales.
However, if your customers know that they can depend on your products being of a consistently high quality, they will be much more likely to return to your store over and over again. Selling high-quality products will also increase your odds of receiving glowing reviews and referral business.
Whether good or bad, the quality of your wares is a direct reflection on your company and on you as a business owner. While it can be tempting to cut initial costs by going with cheaper, lower-quality products, it can wind up costing you much more money than it saves you in the long run.
Let your customers know that you value them, their business and their satisfaction. They will appreciate that you are so attentive to their shopping needs. The end result? Customer loyalty that leads to major business growth, sustained profitability, an impeccable industry reputation and stellar ROI.
Give Shoppers What They Want & Need
Whether you’re an eCommerce seller or a brick-and-mortar retailer, giving shoppers what they want and need is the name of the game. And doing just that can lead to massive customer loyalty.
While it sounds simple enough, giving shoppers what they need is an approach that requires continual attention. After all, the shopping landscape is constantly changing, which means customer needs can sometimes evolve at a rapid pace. Stay in the know by remaining plugged in to your customers’ needs, wants and pain points in relation to the types of products you sell.
Recent pandemics provide a clear example of the retail industry’s ever-changing dynamics. If you are a purveyor of home essentials such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies, your customers relied heavily on you during 2020 to keep items stocked.
But even outside of emergency situations, making sure you offer the products your customers want and need is always a work-in-progress. Fortunately, there are several ways you can keep your finger on the pulse of buyer behavior. Just a few methods include:
- Engaging directly with customers via surveys, emails and the like to learn about the products they’d like to see offered.
- Following forums and news related to your industry to learn about what’s happening now and what’s on-tap for the future.
- Anticipating current and future needs by paying attention to trends within your own company to see what customers are buying most often, and how those trends change over time.
- Looking to your most successful competition to see what they’re doing to give customers what they want.
If you successfully offer products to suit your shoppers’ wants and needs, you will ensure that you stay relevant in your field. Customers will keep coming back to your shop, confident they’ll find what they’re looking for.
Offer Fair Prices
So, you’re providing excellent customer service, an easy shopping experience and top-notch products that perfectly suit buyers’ needs. What’s the next way to boost customer loyalty? If you metaphorically put yourself in your customers’ shoes, the answer to that question becomes crystal clear: offer fair prices.
While customers are absolutely willing to pay a premium for stellar service and high-quality goods, they still want those prices to be fair. Conduct research on the price points for similar items in your industry and make sure you aren’t over-pricing your products.
And if you’d like to really dig into the best ways to use pricing to drive more business to your store, check out our free, comprehensive guide: 23 Pricing Strategies Any eCommerce Seller Can Use to Increase Sales.
Put on Sales
Another great way to increase customer loyalty is to put on special sales. If your shoppers know that they can regularly find great deals and promotions at your shop, they will be much more likely to visit you frequently.
The types of sales you run are entirely up to you and may vary based on your industry. For instance, if you sell office and school supplies, the end of summer is a great time to do a back-to-school sale. Likewise, jewelry retailers may offer special discounts around certain holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
You can also hold sales at certain intervals, such as semi-annual sales or offer year-end blowout clearance deals.
Regardless of the promotions you elect to put on, the goals are the same. You are letting customers know you appreciate their business by enabling them to get amazing products at great prices. This approach also leads to an increase in business thanks to shoppers wanting to buy from you while the discounts still apply. And when customers know that you regularly hold sales and promotions, they will be certain to frequent your shop more often (and even tell their friends).
Create a Customer Loyalty Program
This approach actually has customer loyalty right in its description. By creating a customer loyalty program, you are rewarding shoppers for frequent visits to your store.
The way it works is simple. Customers are able to become members of your store’s or site’s loyalty program. This can be done with an actual loyalty card (like those free, branded cards you receive from grocery chains) and / or by simply signing up for an account through your website. And just like with sales and promotions, there’s a myriad of ways you can tailor your customer loyalty program to suit your company.
One great attribute to include in your loyalty program is a system in which members receive rewards or points for purchases made from your store. They can then use these rewards on future purchases.
For instance, your loyalty program policy could state that members receive 1 point for every $1 spent. It could also dictate that members get $5 in store credit for every 100 points earned. If shoppers have earned 200 points (or $10 worth of store credit), they are almost certain to return to your store to redeem those points.
Once they return and spend even more money, they continue to earn points, and the cycle continues. Through this strategy, you are building a strong relationship with customers through which your store becomes their preferred brand for all shopping needs related to the products you sell.
In addition to a customer loyalty program, you can encourage return shoppers by offering special rewards to loyal customers.
For instance, after a customer buys from you for the first time, send them an email with an exclusive code to be used on their next purchase. The code can be for free shipping, 25% off their entire purchase or any other perk you’d like to offer. The point is to thank them for their patronage and incentivize them to come back again.
Other rewards you can provide to customers include birthday discounts, holiday discounts, random coupons, etc. The list goes on and on, so get creative! The entire strategy here is to make customers feel appreciated and to give them good reason to return again and again to your store.
If there’s one thing almost all shoppers have in common, it’s that they expect transparency. Foster customer loyalty by being open and honest with the people who buy from you.
This principle runs the gamut from transparency about merchandise availability to honesty about potential shipping delays. For example, is a hot item out of stock? If you don’t know when it will be available again, let your customers know. After all, if you falsely claim it will be back within a week, and then it isn’t, your customers will come to believe they can’t depend on you and may switch brands. However, if you are honest about why the item is out of stock and let them know that you will inform them as soon as it is once again available, they will appreciate your honesty and will be more likely to continue shopping with you.
Likewise, if there are shipping delays that are outside of your control, be sure to communicate that fact to customers. Inform them upfront that there may be shipping delays due to an influx of orders, but that your team is doing everything possible to ship items expediently. If a customer knows to expect the delay from the beginning, they will be much less likely to become disenchanted by the wait time. And they will respect you as an honest and diligent retailer.
Another great way to be transparent with your shoppers and to improve customer loyalty is by showcasing reviews.
The way this helps is three-fold. First, if you are following all of the aforementioned guidelines by providing excellent customer service, high-quality products, great prices and attentiveness to customer needs, your reviews will reflect it. And those glowing reviews will surely keep customers coming back.
Secondly, by displaying customer reviews, you are showing the public that you are open and transparent. This instills trust and confidence. And when shoppers are sure they are dealing with an honest retailer, they are prone to frequent their shop often.
Finally, shoppers depend heavily on reviews when selecting products. So, the ability to read reviews on the various items you offer makes it much easier for them to make their buying decisions. And the next time they need to shop for something you sell, they’ll remember that they can find reviews of the product they’re looking for on your website. Once they’ve read those reviews and are already on your website, chances are exponentially higher that they’ll go ahead and buy the product from you rather than taking the time to find it elsewhere.
Own up to Mistakes
No one likes making mistakes. But owning up to them can certainly work in your favor when it comes to customer loyalty.
Look at it from the shopper’s perspective. Say you purchased a shirt in blue, but were sent the item in red. When you called the store to inform them of the mistake, the customer service representative denied responsibility. Or worse yet, the rep tried to tell you that you must have accidentally clicked on the wrong color. This would most certainly lead to a negative shopping experience for you. And you definitely wouldn’t shop at that store again.
Now imagine the same mistake occurred at a different store. But this time, when you called to report the error, the customer service representative was helpful. The rep immediately apologized and took responsibility on behalf of the brand, and offered an exchange or full refund (leaving the decision up to you). This is a store you’ll revisit. You might also leave a positive review and let friends know how well you were treated.
The fact of the matter is, mistakes happen. It’s how you and your team handle them that can determine whether you are helping or hindering your customer loyalty.
Whether it’s mistakes such as the ones we just mentioned, clunky site navigation or any other issue, addressing problems within your store or website can go a long way toward encouraging customer loyalty.
Make sure you and your team stay on top of everything that’s happening with your brand and website. Keep navigation smooth and user-friendly to ensure an easy shopping experience. Discuss any customer service problems with your staff and make sure to revisit training whenever needed. Replace, repair or eliminate any faulty products being sold by your company. Do whatever you have to do to address any and all problems that arise with regard to your brand.
In doing so, you are covering all your bases and making sure the end-to-end experience is a positive one for shoppers.
Be an Expert
Want to keep customers loyal? Be an expert in your industry! That goes for you and your employees.
You should be as knowledgeable as possible about all the products you sell. This is because, if a customer has a question about any product on your site or in your store, they should be able to get a comprehensive answer.
Once again, put yourself in the place of the customer. Imagine you were shopping for a laptop and asked the sales associate a very simple question about RAM. Now picture them having absolutely no idea what you were talking about. Would you feel confident that you could get the machine you needed from that store?
On the other hand, imagine going to a different store for the same product and asking the same question. While at this establishment, the customer service rep fully answered your question. And after doing so, she also asked you questions about your computer usage and gave you extremely helpful insights on the type of laptop that would best suit your needs.
When sellers are well-versed not only in the products they sell but also in their industry as a whole, customers receive the products and answers they’re looking for. This leads to repeat business and happy shoppers.
Engage on Social Media
Continue improving customer loyalty by engaging directly with shoppers on social media. You can do this by using social media to promote any sales you’re having, encourage shoppers to sign up for your loyalty program, advertise new products and much more.
The whole point is to keep your brand visible to customers. Even if they’ve shopped with you before, and if they had a great experience while doing so, people are busy. And the truth is, sometimes they forget about brands they’ve visited. By actively engaging online, you can keep yourself at the forefront of their mind. Then, when they need what you sell, they’ll be more likely to remember you and visit your shop.
Convey Company Values
If you read articles on The Brainery, you’ll know we talk a lot about conveying company values. That’s because this tactic is integral to running a successful eCommerce or retail business. And that fact is especially true when it comes to customer loyalty.
Today’s shoppers want to buy from brands that stand for something. Let your customers know that your company is dedicated to providing the highest level of customer care, top-shelf products, great prices, honest transparency, etc. Whatever your company stands for, own it, and tell your customers about it.
This approach helps to instill confidence and trust in your brand and will encourage shoppers to keep coming back. All because they know they’ll receive excellent service and the products they need from a brand that has integrity.
Here’s another simple-yet-effective one. Boost customer loyalty by keeping your promises. If you send out an email saying that items will be 50% off for the next week, keep that sale running for the time you specified in the message.
Likewise, if you promise that new items are added to your site every Monday, then add new items to your site every Monday. Breaking just one promise to customers can absolutely tank your industry reputation and cause shoppers to switch brands.
But delivering on those promises time and time again will do just the opposite. Customers will know they can trust you to do what you say you’re going to do. And they’ll reward you with their repeat business.
Hire the Best People
We’ve all heard sayings like the following: a company is only as good as the people working for it. That idiom is especially true when it comes to the eCommerce and retail industry. Sure, you can offer great products at awesome prices. You can even put on amazing sales and promotions. But if the people working for your company don’t uphold the same values that are included in your company’s mission statement, your entire business will suffer.
Even if you put on the most intensive customer service training in the industry, if you’re attempting to train the wrong people, the lessons won’t stick. And it will be your customers and your bottom line that suffer.
Protect yourself from employing the wrong people by putting stringent hiring practices into place. While seeking new employees can be a time-consuming process, doing it the right way will save you time and help you grow your business in the long run. Put together a checklist of attributes that new hires need to bring to the table. Just a few of those attributes could include:
- A friendly demeanor.
- Product knowledge.
- A genuine interest in your industry.
- Retail, eCommerce and / or customer service experience.
- Strong work ethics.
- A team-oriented attitude.
Once you have your checklist in place, go through applications carefully. After you’ve selected the candidates you’d like to interview, it might be a good idea to hold multiple rounds of interviews so more than one member of your executive team can get to know each candidate and ask questions. You might even want to put together an assessment for finalists to complete that allows them to showcase the job’s necessary attributes or competencies.
When you have the right team in place, your customers receive the best treatment and are much more likely to shop at your store frequently. Protect your business and ensure customers always leave delighted by hiring the best of the best.
If you want to make sure you’re doing the best job possible at fostering customer loyalty, invite feedback from your actual customers. After all, what better way is there to find out how to get shoppers to come back again and again than to just ask them directly?
Customers are surprisingly likely to voice their opinions if you’ll just ask them. So invite feedback by sending out surveys via email or even giving them a call. You can also invite customers to provide feedback after you’ve assisted them during a customer service call. Or provide an area right on your website for feedback. For instance, Replyco uses a Public Roadmap where customers can learn about upcoming improvements, request / vote for new features and provide comments and feedback.
Listen to Your Customers
If you’re trying to improve customer loyalty by inviting feedback, the next step is to act on it. Listen to your customers and do everything you can to address their wants and needs.
For example, are you receiving frequent comments about certain pages taking too long to load? Have your development team take a look at the issue and fix it. Or are customers regularly asking about a specific product that you don’t sell? Check into what it would take to make it available at your shop.
And if customers are regularly complaining about customer service, it’s time to address your staff and make sure they are dedicated to customer satisfaction. This may require yearly training or continued education, but it will be worth it when the changes you make lead to an influx of return shoppers.
Say “Thank You”
This one may sound easy, but it will mean everything to your customers. Say “thank you” to your loyal customers for their business. It won’t cost you much (if anything), but it will let them know that you appreciate them.
Thanking customers can be as simple as sending out an email that expresses how grateful you are that, given all the options for shopping on the market today, they chose your company for their shopping needs.
You can also express on social media how much you appreciate and value your customers. That kind of genuine gratitude will surely inspire shoppers to return to your store and be happy to buy from you.
Communicate Often & Effectively
Finally, if you want to encourage customer loyalty, be sure to communicate often and effectively. Is there anything coming up that might delay shipping? Let your shoppers know. Or do you have a big sale coming soon? Tell customers well ahead of time, then send weekly or daily reminders leading up to the event.
The same goes for communicating after a sale. Let shoppers know when their order is received, processed, shipped and delivered. They’ll appreciate being kept in the loop and will be very likely to return to your shop again.
If you’re looking for a better way to communicate with customers, look no further than Replyco. We exist to help multi-channel eCommerce sellers centralize messaging and delight customers.
With Replyco, you can view and reply to inquiries from all of your selling channels in one place. No more opening multiple tabs, sharing your passwords or having customer emails fall through the cracks. Learn more by taking a tour of our features and pricing. Or take control of your inbox today by getting started right now with your free trial (no credit card required)!