Most brands have one goal: engage with consumers successfully. Consumers have more choices than ever, and brands must create positive customer experiences to succeed. Even with all the competition in every industry, brand-loyal customers will continue to choose a brand based on the high caliber of its offerings and the overall experience.
Positive brand awareness drives customer loyalty, but to foster this relationship successfully businesses need to look at more than just product. They must connect with consumers through support, empathy and empowerment. This elevated relationship increases loyalty, and creating a customer-centric business is paramount in today’s competitive and crowded marketplace.
Not sold on a customer-first mind-set? Here are some reasons why you need a loyal customer base:
Customer Voices Are Heard
Today’s online society gives customers a voice, and a loud one at that. Businesses have an internet presence whether they create one or not. With social platforms and peer-reviewed content, customers have the opportunity to give brand kudos or discredit a brand instantly. Customer opinion can become user-generated content for a business that drives awareness and can lead to new customers without having to spend a lot of budget on advertising.
While loyal customers can increase sales, they can also damage a brand with bad reviews or negative feedback. These poor reviews can be seen instantly by millions and hurt a brand’s reputation quicker than it was built. Giving customers control over your products and services can be intimidating, but you need to let your customers be heard. Allow them to share their opinions, and be ready to respond to both positive and negative comments. In the end, this will create a sense of honesty and trust that drives customer loyalty.
Grow With Customer Centricity
Finding information is a critical aspect of the customer journey. Therefore, businesses need to make it easy for consumers to research and compare products. Consumers need access to information, and the information needs to be consistent across all channels. Offering consumers an easy solution to information gathering leads to customer satisfaction and can be part of an overall marketing strategy. Seamless user experiences are understood only when a business understands its customers and their processes.
To address consumer pain points, businesses often create new products and services. Tailored, relevant product offerings increase customer loyalty as businesses look to provide solutions that meet customer needs and expectations. Having a customer-centric approach shows consumers you're loyal to them and to their needs, which will increase their loyalty back to you.
The heart of a customer-centric approach also involves tailoring and reimagining your business processes from the bottom up. Successful companies today are taking a process-driven mind-set when it comes to their loyal customers — one that combines the necessary business processes to drive successful campaigns while also focusing on true customer engagement. This new process-first vision puts customers first, communicating with them when, where and how they specify.
An active, more personalized process management initiative, coupled with tight customer journey mapping, helps further a loyalty program to:
- Break through the clutter: A good loyalty program can benefit from customer journey mapping to look beyond traditional process methodology and case models.
- Mine data that moves relationships forward: Companies can leverage their own data to better understand customers and introduce new benefits/offers that excite them to drive business forward.
- Increase flexibility: Models which can be edited and adapted quickly allow for more creativity in coming up with funding and loyalty benefits.
Longevity With Loyalty
Focusing on customer loyalty will pay off through new opportunities and increased market share. Even though this is true, so many businesses focus on securing new customers that they forget about their existing ones. This simply won’t work as businesses are then forced to offer deeper and deeper discounts to secure new customers, which will run dry along with revenue streams.
Acquiring new customers can be expensive, while building existing customer relationships can generate increased revenue through new sales streams. Long-term customers are often overlooked and even penalized for not being a new face to the business. Praising loyal customers through recognition and rewards is an essential process of the customer journey.
Customer loyalty isn’t going away. Ensuring that it stays strong will guarantee the most sustainable future for businesses navigating today’s complex business environment.
Stefan Krumnow is global senior vice president of customer service at Signavio, a collaborative process and decision management platform.