Customers. As business owners we love having them around! They’re truly the reason why we’ve become the bad-ass CEOs who are reading this guide right now.
Naturally if you are reading this, you’re probably looking to build a loyal customer base for your business, one that will continually grow and prosper for years to come. Or, maybe you’ve already got a loyal base and are looking for ways to keep nurturing their sense of loyalty. Or, maybe you’re interested in gathering new fans.
However you look at it, building loyalty is a hard thing to do. It really is! Customer loyalty is the foundation of why we do what we do as Systems Queens, and we want to help you out. This article was made with you in mind!
Here’s the ultimate guide for building customer loyalty.
Step 1: Be Aware of the 3 Rs: Relevance, Recognition, and Reward
You can’t build effective loyalty without these 3 Rs! Marketing aficionados will recognize (see what we did there?) these golden cornerstones of an effective strategy. However, it’s always worth revisiting the basics because you never know when a reminder comes in handy.
Relevance is what you identify as your target audience’s ‘pain point’, i.e. a marketing term where you’ve identified something lacking or necessary to improve one’s overall quality of life.
Recognition is when you are identifying your customers and being on their level. You may have been through what they’re struggling to improve already. It could be offering a new product, it could be a refill service that’s an extension of your business—whatever you decide.
Reward is obvious—this is what you are giving to customers who have proven their loyalty to your business time and again, and it keeps them coming back for years.
There are a few ways to ensure you are following these 3 Rs for your business:
- A loyalty program (this is a no brainer)
- An affiliate program (maybe something like ours?) 😉
- A refill program (e.g. for skin care, hair products, shopping, eco-friendly shops, etc.)
- A point program (e.g. plastic wrapping, Halloween candy wrappers, etc.)
- A spend program
- Payment plans
Basically something that makes customers go:
Any one of these types of programs is a great start to building that much-needed loyalty!
A CRM can help by offering a multitude of actions worth taking in order to create this program. These actions include, but are definitely not limited to:
- Templates for emails and invoices
- Scheduling capabilities
- A single platform accessible to everyone involved with the program’s creation
These can’t really be accomplished successfully however if you’re not able to follow the next step.
Step 2: Be Organized
Easier said than done sometimes, we know. Some days it feels like our to-do list needs its own to-do list, and then both of those grow instead of getting smaller. That’s why getting organized around how you’re going to encourage customer loyalty now definitely pays off in the long run for sure!
Think about all the steps you need to ensure the new loyalty program, process, or service you offer will run smoothly in the future. Have you got a good, concrete idea of what this process looks like? Or do you need to make a list first?
A CRM system can help you become better organized by allowing you to create your own forms and templates, things that require individual and unique details per customer but can’t be used without a formal structure first. Once you have these forms in place, you can set them up to be automated via a preliminary workflow, i.e. a course of actions taken based on one action.
Other ways a CRM can help you stay organized include notifications to your email or via SMS, depending on the system of your choice. If you’re more on top of checking your phone as opposed to email, you can integrate your CRM to those applications as well; again, depending on your choice.
Getting organized and putting your CRM to work will also boost the next step of building some of that much-needed customer loyalty.
Step 3: Be Personal
Now don’t get any ideas, we’re not talking about sharing every single thing about your life online (even the private stuff!). When we say ‘be personal’, we mean personalizing the customer experience from start to finish.
Remember things like birthdays and holidays. Several companies offer discounts for their customers’ birthday months, because who doesn’t like treating themselves for those occasions?
Likewise if your customers consist of expecting moms, offer your congratulations and maybe customized pregnancy planning/first new year for new mom emails.
Pro tip for this step: ask before you send. Take for example Ancestry who, when holidays like Father’s Day roll around, will send emails asking people if they would prefer to opt out of being sent those specifically themed promotions to their inbox.
This is not only personal, it’s also considerate and a smart move overall.
In addition to building customer loyalty, this example is a great way to segment your communications and ensure your messages are being received by the customers you’re targeting, the customers who do want to receive catered special offers from your company.
You can use your CRM system for personalization easily by integrating your email inbox and calendars with it, as well as creating new workflows and automations whenever it’s time to provide your special offers. Some software such as Cardly can also be integrated into your system smoothly.
Not only is your own CRM a great way to stay organized like in step 2, its personalization capabilities can help your customers realize they are in fact connecting with actual human beings at your company.
Step 4: Be Open to LOTS of Communication and Back-and-Forth
Communication with your customers is a cornerstone of customer service. Transparency goes hand in hand with communication, and it can actually be a huge booster for loyalty too. Sometimes, things are tough for everyone involved, businesses and customers alike.
For example, are things rough for your business at the moment and you’re looking for new clients and help? Let them know. Did you recently hire someone or have a new product or service to share? Let them know that too.
Other great things to communicate transparently with your customers: a change in hours of operation, a new product, a major change such as a new team member being introduced, and anything that a customer ought to know so that they’re not taken by surprise.
The more you communicate and do so clearly with your customers, the more positive an experience they will have with your company, and the more loyalty you can build from it.
A CRM system comes in especially handy here, because they are 100% built on ensuring effective communication between you and your customers.
Step 5: Be Ready for Criticism
No matter what kind of CRM system you use, no matter how hard you may try to provide the best customer experience, chances are high there will be at least 1-2 people you meet in your client journey who just…don’t jam with your own business. And that’s fine. The most you can do is thank them for the business, wave them goodbye with a smile, and move on with your life.
But then you have the real haters. The ones who will do everything in their power to demean you and your business via an online review. There are even people who will go so far as to deliberately create conflict in your life…talk about sad, right?
So now you’re probably wondering, how can a CRM system even help with this step? And honestly, it’s all about prevention—applying all the aforementioned stuff as well as, you know, being a kind and decent person, including in your own business, really really does go a long way.
The staying organized part will prevent you from missing something your customer is trying to tell you. Meanwhile, being consistently great at providing quality service to those customers also goes a long way to preventing haters.
Above all, being open to their criticism helps. Maybe the negative feedback has a pattern such as horrible service online, but great service in person. Take that as your opportunity to improve in areas where improvements need to be made.
And some days, success in this part truly boils down to a few things that don’t involve technology, which is: a) the relationship you form with your customers, b) the relationship you form with your affiliates and business partners, and c) the relationships you form via clear communication.
It’s a lot to nurture and it’s hard, but when you put the effort into addressing the criticism and recognizing its usefulness, customers will be able to tell you’re doing your best. It’s that sense of effort you show that’s going to improve and even develop new loyalty in your customer base, for sure.
Step 6: Be Ready for Change
Let’s be real, are you really going to be the same in 5 years from now, let alone 10? Heck, who knows what next year is going to bring. If there’s anything we’ve learned at the start of this decade, it’s that you really and truly never know what could happen.
We didn’t even conceive how crucial online services and shopping could become, yet here we are now. Online customer service is not only demanded more than ever now, it’s become an essential part of running a business. So if you’re already a purely offline service, consider yourself already losing that sense of customer loyalty.
Another item worth being open to changing is your loyalty program. Improving upon this even slightly can help build that needed loyalty. You can show that your business is worth every penny by offering perks, and then continuing to do this as time goes on. If they’re perks that make it impossible to walk away from your business, then even better.
The other lesson we can glean from this? Change happens. The most we can do as business owners is to be ready to roll with that change. And sometimes that’s a great thing! It can be as small a change as touching up a 10+ year old logo with a new font, or as drastic and huge a change as switching from one CRM system to another.
Speaking of your CRM system, the majority of these are also able to adapt to change—that includes any new customer profiles, marketing campaigns, program perks, and literally everything in between. Updates are frequently rolled out so that you get the most bang for your buck, and this is a good thing in their favour too, because as their customers, you’re getting the most benefits from these updates.
Step 7: Be a Part of the Community
Here’s the thing: yes, customers can grow to trust your business, but in today’s age where online reviews and word of mouth marketing can make or break a company’s first impression, it’s not you the customers trust—it’s their peers, their colleagues, their loved ones.
Between all of the social media, the online forums, and the customer review sites, it’s all too easy for a single oopsie to be recorded. However, you can turn that around to your favour by offering your customers an online community.
For example, you can give your customers the ability of self-service support and resources. Having an FAQ on your website or a forum where they can request troubleshooting and other discussions on various topics are all good ideas. And even if there’s negative feedback left behind, it’s in a place where you have enough control to deal with it in good time and resolve the situation fast.
An online community can also send you feedback that you wouldn’t normally receive from other areas, such as surveys.
And, you guessed it, your CRM system can help with this too. Not only can a CRM be a singular place where you can collaborate and communicate with your staff, you can also set up a private forum where affiliates or your most loyal customers can log in and contribute to the conversation.
Step 8: Be Analytical When It’s Time
Sometimes you will need to measure and then analyze your marketing efforts and their success rates, as well as measure the customer loyalty you’re trying to build.
Different companies call for different ways of measuring this success, however these are the metrics that are the most worthwhile.
- Retention rate – i.e. the indication of how long a customer stays loyal to you. You can measure this by running an A/B test against program members and non-program members, and discover how effective your loyalty program initiatives are.
- Referral traffic – i.e. any traffic that comes to your company’s website via places aside from search engines such as Google. News websites and social media count as referral traffic.
- Purchasing habits – i.e. results from customer satisfaction surveys. Sending these out is necessary in order to realize whether your customers are remaining loyal, or they’re going to your competition instead. You can send these surveys after a customer has done an action such as return an item, for example, or when they have tried out one of your products.
- Social media mentions – i.e. what people are saying about you on social media platforms. This is also worth mentioning because it’s more about quality, rather than quantity. Is the feedback you’re seeing on these platforms positive, or not?
A CRM system can help with all of these measurements and data collection. The key part of this step’s success is to add as many details as possible, and connect your CRM to other helpful tools for analysis such as Google Analytics.
Step 9: Be Willing to Go to the Next Level for their Experience
What exactly keeps a customer coming back to a business over and over again? Simple: it’s not just offering a great product. It’s the experience the customer has when they interact with your company.
So long as you’re able to keep delivering the quality of products and services your customers expect from you, they will always be ready to spend time and money on you. Their loyalty is not only the core of any successful brand; it’s also guaranteed to keep revenue ongoing and be less demanding on your acquisition costs and your marketing budget both.
Sometimes, it pays to step up a notch and really amplify their experience when they buy from you or they experience your calls to action. And that’s how a CRM steps in too.
A CRM makes administrative tasks easier on you by allowing your customers to call their own shots. It can be as simple as booking their appointment online through your CRM, or allowing them to follow through with monthly payments based on the loyalty program.
By allowing your CRM to do the harder work that can be time-consuming, you’ll have more time to spend on your loyal customers.
Step 10: Have a CRM System to Help With All These Steps
Yes, we mean it! A CRM system can do all of the following for your customer loyalty development: keep you organized, keep you on top of communications, and keep your business afloat by saving you time and money.
A CRM system can also:
- Measure your customer satisfaction and retention rates using analytical tools and reports
- Connect with other useful applications you and your staff can’t run a business without
- Automate branded appointment bookings, payments, emails, and calendar scheduling
- Make all necessary documents and communications accessible in one secure place, instead of spread out across multiple spreadsheets
- Assist in automatically initiating both sales and marketing workflows
- Be the primary place for your online community, where you can receive valuable feedback and provide customers with invaluable solutions and self-service resources
- And so, so much more
You’re probably thinking, “That’s great, but how to choose?” That answer is easy. You can download our comparison guide to start!
Questions? Contact our Systems Queens
We know this is a LOT for you to process and take in! It’s definitely not a one-step process to build customer loyalty. That’s why we wrote this article for your sake!
Our Systems Queens are so passionate about CRM and helping companies like yours succeed more when you use them. That’s why we offer our own Affiliate program to owners who LOVE connecting to others and local communities, as well as building up and guiding customers to our trusted partners!
It’s because of our relationships to our customers that drive us to be the best we can be. And we want you to see that same level of success for your own business.
So, what are you waiting for?
Book your discovery call with The Systems Queens!