Unless your business is a monopoly, customer loyalty and retention is probably on your mind.
But what’s the best way to go about earning authentic loyalty? What’s the best way to retain your customers for longer.
It may not be what you think, because it’s not about loyalty programs – more often they create dis-loyalty because rewards are either invisible or full of loopholes when it comes to redemption. It’s not about the best pricing, perks, lunches, event tickets and so on, because as much as that’s standard business practice for many companies, it can be costly, the benefits are fleeting, and those efforts don’t serve to differentiate you from the competition.
Earning loyalty and keeping customers for longer comes down getting beyond the hype of “customer relationship management” where pseudo-customization is often a thin disguise to “buy more” campaigns that bombard customers with unwanted or irrelevant offers.
Its more about taking the time to understand what kind of “relationship” your customers want with you. While there is no problem with tastefully inviting customers to do more business with you, make no mistake, the customer, not the company, always manages the “relationship.”
Sometimes you just want a simple transaction – going to an ATM, fuelling your car, going to the post office are examples. In that case, you simply want the transaction to be efficient, cost-effective, and fulfill your needs. Think “no fuss, no muss”.
Sometimes it’s all about the brand. Many customers would rather buy Apple than Samsung. Coke vs Pepsi. Chevron rather than BP. Intel inside rather than a non-branded chip. If you have brand power working for you, customers will remain loyal as long as your brand fulfills their expectations. However, let them down, and they’ll desert your brand in droves.
A deeper level of interaction is appropriate when trust and problem-solving are important components of the relationship. In that case, information sharing on both sides, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to find a win-win are core elements that customers will reward with authentic loyalty.
High risk, high reward scenarios call for true customer relationship management, where both parties need to build trust over time, and act in the best interests of both parties.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your customers want a relationship with you. Take the time to determine whether their preferred approach has to do with your brand, with seamless transactions, with value-add interactions, or with relationships that help them achieve their goals more quickly and easily. When you find the sweet spot and deliver, you’ll earn the loyalty and retention you deserve.