Why does a customer remain loyal to a particular brand?
Businesses have posed this question throughout history. But it’s more pertinent than ever before in today’s crowded digital landscape, where businesses struggle to build customer loyalty in an ever-expanding field of competitors.
Offering high-quality products is no longer enough. Today’s customers have an abundance of good options, so why should they stick with your brand over another?
To make matters worse, customers trust brands far less than they once did. In fact, 55% of customers say that they now trust companies less than they used to (source). This is a troubling trend, considering the fact that trust is the foundation of customer loyalty.
Now if you’re already frightened about the future of your business, take a deep breath and keep reading. The good news is, there are plenty of ways for your company to earn trust and loyalty from your customers, even in today’s busy marketplace.
Let’s get into our top five strategies to build customer loyalty!
Table of Contents
- Invest in multi-channel customer service.
- Provide ongoing customer education and training.
- Create exclusive content for customers.
- Recognize customers in public-facing content.
- Establish an incentive-based customer loyalty program.
1. Invest in multi-channel customer service.
Great customer service is one of several factors that make a customer loyal to a brand. On the other hand, bad customer service can derail customer loyalty all by itself. In fact, 33% of American customers say they’ll consider switching companies immediately following a single instance of poor service (source).
Today’s customers interact with brands through a variety of channels, and they expect high-quality service on each one. In order to maintain consistent customer service and avoid errors, brands must invest in a comprehensive, multi-channel customer service strategy. Here are some tips to consider.
Implement AI-powered chatbots on your website.
Picture this scenario: a customer has a product-related issue they need assistance with. They visit your website, where they find a customer support email address. They send an email, but since it’s late at night they don’t receive a reply until the next morning. Then, they engage in a lengthy back-and-forth before the customer service rep understands their problem.
Now, imagine that same customer visits your website and is greeted by an intelligent chatbot. The chatbot responds to the customer’s inquiry with personalized messages, analyzes their responses, and points the customer to the helpful resources they’re looking for. Instead of taking an entire day to receive help, the customer begins to solve their problem within minutes.
In the digital age, customers have come to expect this level of instant gratification. When you make them wait to receive the help they’re looking for, it reflects poorly on your brand. AI and chatbots are an effective, consistent method to ensure you never leave your customers waiting for high-quality service.
Learn more about implementing AI-powered chatbots by reading the following post: The Definitive Guide to Conversational Marketing.
Establish a social media support protocol.
Social media has revolutionized every form of interpersonal interaction, including customer service. When your customers reach out to your brand, they don’t just expect responses; they expect fast responses. In fact, 42% of people who attempt to contact a brand through social media for customer support expect a response within 60 minutes (source).
That statistic may seem anxiety-inducing, particularly if your social team is lacking in resources and manpower. But don’t fear: you can enable consistent, quick response times by establishing a thorough social media protocol.
This protocol should provide answers to the following: Who should respond to each type of support request? How will you handle requests that come in during off-hours? How should you respond to a negative message, or a positive message? Or a product-related question? What requests should receive top priority? And so on.
Make sure your social media protocol is as thorough as possible. That way, you’re always prepared for any and every customer service request you receive.
Create a customer knowledge center.
Many customers reach out with similar questions, issues, or support requests. If this is the case for your company, it means your customers are having trouble finding information that should be readily available to them.
Fix this issue by creating a centralized knowledge center that contains all the information customers often look for. For starters, this center should feature a FAQ section that answers the most important and commonly-asked questions your business receives. Your knowledge center should also include any content that will help your customers use your products or interact with your brand — such as product demos, tutorials, webinars, and other useful assets.
2. Provide ongoing customer education and training.
Let’s talk about one of the biggest mistakes B2B brands make. Their sales reps get super hands-on with prospects during the buying journey — they provide demos, answer questions, ask for feedback, etc. Then the prospect makes a purchase, and suddenly they’re on their own. If they have a question, they have to reach out and wait for an answer. If the product they purchased undergoes an update, it’s on them to figure out how to use its new features.
When you stop helping your customers once they’ve made a purchase, you send a clear message: We just wanted your money. On the other hand, when you offer ongoing assistance and training, you show customers that your business genuinely cares about their experience.
Establish a process to engage with and support your existing customers. That process can start with simple outreach messages to periodically check in on customers. We also recommend hosting ongoing training sessions that help both new and old customers get the most out of your products. This kind of ongoing education is particularly important in the B2B space, where products tend to be more multifaceted and are often updated with new features.
3. Create exclusive content for customers.
Exclusivity is one of the most powerful instruments in a business’s proverbial toolbox. It’s simple human nature to desire something that the general public cannot attain. Your business can leverage the influence of exclusivity to build customer loyalty — starting with exclusive personalized content.
We don’t simply refer to product training materials and educational content. Create engaging content of all kinds, strictly for your customers — articles, videos, webinars, and any other type of content your customers enjoy. Distribute this exclusive content in a monthly customer newsletter, along with company updates, important milestones, and any other fun or informative nuggets your customers will enjoy.
Yes, it takes a lot of work to create exclusive content for people who already buy from you. But, the extra effort will be worth it when more one-time purchasers become lifelong loyal customers.
4. Recognize customers in public-facing content.
We’ve talked about content for your customers — but you can also encourage loyalty by creating content about your customers. Content that features real customers is a great way to humanize your brand, build trust with your audience, and of course, build customer loyalty. Here are a few examples of how you can feature customers in your content:
- Case studies and testimonials: Customer testimonials and case stories provide a great opportunity to let your customers tell their story. These content assets benefit your brand, as they build authenticity by exploring your company’s services through the experiences of a real customer. But, featuring a customer in a case study will also make them feel important, valued, and more connected to your brand.
- Social media posts: A simple Tweet or Instagram post can go a long way. And the engaging, conversational nature of social media makes it a great place to feature your customers in quick social images, videos, or even a quick shoutout to recognize a specific customer’s accomplishments.
- Website content: Your website is what represents your brand and services to the world— so why not highlight the real people you sell to? Instead of filling your website with stock imagery of random strangers, include images of your actual customers. Add customer quotes and snippets of testimonials to let your customers play a role in telling your story.
It goes without saying: Always ask for permission before featuring a customer’s likeness in any of your B2B marketing content. But as long as they’re a willing participant, your customers will feel a sense of pride when you choose to highlight them. And, other customers will recognize the appreciation you show to your buyers, which in turn will strengthen your overall brand and drive customer loyalty on a wider scale.
5. Establish an incentive-based customer loyalty program.
We’ve already covered several methods of showing your customers appreciation — stellar service, exclusivity, public recognition — but nothing shows appreciation like a real, tangible reward.
Reward your loyal customers by establishing a formal customer loyalty program. While there are many different forms of incentives you can offer within your program, here are a few recommendations:
Create a tiered incentive program.
The rewards you provide should grow in value as a customer continues to remain loyal to your brand. Consider structuring your program around several distinct loyalty tiers, with each tier providing incentives that increase in value. You can even develop a points-based system, where customers earn points for specific actions and work their way up the tiers of your program.
Offer incentives that speak to your customers’ values.
Monetary rewards are great, but your customers also care about issues that extend beyond their own personal benefit. Implement loyalty incentives which benefit the social issues that represent your brand’s and customers’ values. For example, instead of a discounted product, you might donate a percentage of your loyal customers’ purchases to a charity they support.
Personalize your incentives.
Of course, many customers will be satisfied with a simple monetary incentive. But, we recommend you personalize your incentives based on each individual customer’s history and preferences. For example, you might offer a customer a discount on a product that complements the products they’ve purchased from you in the past.
The statistics show that customers respond more favorably to personalized loyalty programs (source):
- Only 40% of customers say they’ve received a personalized incentive.
- 56% said that a personalized incentive would increase the likelihood of considering a brand.
- 63% of respondents prefer a personalized incentive based on purchase history.
One-size-fits-all incentives run the risk of making your customers feel like they’re just another number in your program. Personalized incentives indicate that you care about each individual customer and want to provide the reward they’ll value most.
Final Thoughts on Building Customer Loyalty
Intention is crucial when it comes to building customer loyalty. Before you implement any of the above strategies, ask yourself: am I really trying to help and show appreciation for my customers? Or, is my only motive to convince them to keep making purchases?
If you have an ulterior motive, your customers will recognize it. Don’t look for ways to trick your customers into sticking around; invest in genuine methods to improve their customer experience and make them feel valued. Establish a brand that places the customer’s satisfaction above all else, and you’ll be sure to consistently build customer loyalty.
For more help building your B2B brand, contact ZoomInfo today. We’re a leading B2B contact database and we have the tools you need to scale your marketing efforts and grow your business.