When it comes to growth and sustainability, the world around us continues to evolve. One aspect that has remained constant is how valuable a loyal customer base is. Not only does their recurring revenue allow for proper planning, but they also are advocates who will invest in your business and are less costly to maintain than acquiring new customers. So, how do you establish strong LTV to keep that customer from jumping ship?
1. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Have you ever had an incredible experience with a brand, product or service that is so beyond words that you share what happened with everyone you know? Then one of your mates takes you up on it and decides that they want to join this joyous bandwagon of yours. You see them for the first time since they tried your recommendation, and you ask what they thought of your new favorite thing with enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm is not matched, and your friend goes on to tell you how AWFUL their experience was from start to finish. You wonder, how could this be? Now, what percentage of your customers would claim that same experience? The hope is that it’s a percentage that fits on your hand if at all, and if it’s not, that would be the goal.
When it comes to building loyalty, delivering quality is only a great brand value if it is done consistently. You should aim to create a brand that your customer can depend on, that they are sure of, and that subsides all concerns in their mind when foraying into this new relationship. Mind you, we are competing in a world where spans of products and services are easily accessible, consumers have access to anything they could possibly need and purchase at the drop of a hat. By providing a reliable service or product, you give them no reason to go seek the next best thing, as they have built trust in you, and they know they will be satisfied.
When you want to understand how you stack up, while delivering quality is of utmost importance, consistency is key!
2. MAKE IT PERSONAL
Loyalty is not given, it is earned. It is very much like a budding relationship; you want to cultivate and nurture it. While it’s seemingly obvious, there are many brands out there that still leverage strategies that make building that relationship unattractive to the customer. These are things such as greetings that don’t acknowledge a person, sending the same generic messages to all, or not leveraging the data you have to create meaningful recommendations for that customer.
Not only does personalization encourage a consumer to spend more and engage with the brand, almost 3 in 4 consumers get frustrated when they are provided content that is not relevant to them. One of Brandshare’s premier partners asked us to develop a customer loyalty program. In this, the customers receive a curation of products that are specific to their needs. As a result of being a member of this program, a leading national retailer reported that the recipients spent an incremental $300 annually vs a non-member. In order to develop loyalists with higher lifetime values, more repeat purchases, and advocacy, organizations should start by creating an emotional connection.
Personalization doesn’t have to feel like a heavy lift. There are small tactics that businesses of any size can easily implement such as segmented email lists or groups, based in interests and behaviors, adding names to email salutations, and playing back the customer feedback in a piece of development.
It is no longer about the broadcast, and more about the customers’ YOUniverse.
3. DON’T STOP AT “GATHERED FEEDBACK”
Have you ever tried something new and found yourself polarized enough to leave strong feedback? Sharing every thought, every feeling, every bit of angst or happiness. And then, you sit and wait… and wait… and wait. And in the end, it didn’t solicit a response? You start to sense that it was a waste of time and had no purpose as things have remained as they were before the yelling began.
Well, that’s likely how your customers feel when there are no mechanisms to action on their feedback. Having ways to assess your customer’s satisfaction is table stakes. Everyone plays here and this is where some brands stop. As for the ones who take it to the next level, they tend to see renowned success.
When Glossier first launched, they implemented the ultimate insight thread when they opened a SLACK channel for their most loyal customers. The invited customers would not only share their thoughts on products, but also reveal how and where they use them. They would pose questions to other group members who would chime in enthusiastically about their habits as well. All this chatter created a bucket of insight which the brand then leveraged across its marketing and communications as well as in product development. In 2019, the brand saw almost a 4% increase in total annual spend per shopper. Multiply that by its 3 million customers and you get a hefty bit of revenue. The brand continues to use this tactic today with the help of its gTeam of editors (customer care team).
While Glossier has the ultimate customer strategy, we all can’t get there overnight. Start small. Survey your customer’s and analyze the quantitative data. Leverage qualitative insights from channels that already exist like in your social apps or reviews. Compile the results to get an understanding of what they want, need, or tout and then work to find ways to infuse these into your next great thing.
4. BE THE “SEAMLESS” OF YOUR SPACE
When GrubHub launched it took the takeout industry and flipped it on its head. We can all relate (if we are old enough to remember) the painstaking call to order take out from our favorite restaurant. You had to talk to an actual human, provide your pay information EVERY TIME YOU CALLED, and hoped that the order was right upon arrival. Well, for Matt Maloney this wasn’t good enough and on one night of working late, this experience catapulted him and his GrubHub founding crew to a $1 billion in sales by 2013, less than 10 years from when he had started it.
How could this be you may ask? SEAMLESS-NESS. GrubHub’s launch met consumers where they were – online – and allowed them to avoid all the frustration and repetitiveness that came with a takeout order process. In this case by adding a middleman, he removed friction for the end user.
As stated earlier, building loyalty is a lot like starting a relationship. Would you want to be in a relationship that constantly caused frustration, or something you found yourself always following up on? Unless you’ve got a specific type, no. Keeping your customers happy and engaged is a result of finding the challenges they face and figuring out solutions. If you only take credit cards as payment, but consumers now like to use Venmo or Klarna, it would be of your interest to find a way to provide this payment gateway. If you don’t MAYBE your super loyalists will stick around, but maybe a portion of those on the fence leave for a competitor who does.
We can all relate to the relief we feel now when ordering on GrubHub, Uber Eats or one of the many online food ordering platforms that have cropped up over time. And the reason they all exist and do so well is because they make the customer’s life easier. Loyalty and creating opportunities for repeat purchase are the result of giving your customer a seamless experience.
5. REWARD THEM
The third level of Maslow’s hierarchy is love and belonging. Even though this was created years ago, the hierarchy is still quite relevant today. We want to feel special, valued, and recognized and we seek gratification.
While rewards programs are there to make the customer feel good about their choice of a provider, they also have the amazing power of saving your company money. Yes, we all know this, but it must be said again – keeping the customers you have is a lot less costly than going out and finding new ones. Your loyal customers will spend 2/3 more on your products and services than new customers. By building out your reward program, you create more opportunity for repeat purchase, generate brand ambassadors who do your marketing for you, and even help you provide value to your other partners. Review generation is a good example of this.
The best part of implementing these programs, outside of what it does for your bottom line, is that they do not have to be complicated. Customers can be rewarded for any measure of loyalty including referring other customers, writing reviews, engaging with you on social media, or participating in providing feedback.
Loyalty and rewards programs enable your cult to achieve a sense of appreciation. We are all human after all.
Erica Solomon is the Beauty Director, Customer Experience & Loyalty at Brandshare US.