By Anna Morrish, Marketing Executive, from DMCSoftware

Every business wants to build customer loyalty, or at least they should! According to Dan Newman in his recent article on Entrepeneur.com, “It costs five, six or even seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one.”

Yet, some businesses still appear to see more value in obtaining new customers than retaining those they already have, not realising that retaining customers can also lead to more customers.

Customer service, support and retention are all equal aspects to consider when trying to achieve customer loyalty. Deliver outstanding customer service, offer exceptional support and create a customer retention strategy in order to stand out from the rest.

Be Available

When asked about how to create customer loyalty, Sasha Evans, Head of Commercial Trading at Hastings Direct, said, “Treat customers as they wish to be treated, not as we would like to be treated ourselves - go further, find out about them and exceed their expectations!”

The Profitable Firm, added to this, by saying, “Stay in touch using the client’s preferred method. If they prefer text, don’t blanket email. If they prefer Skype, don’t phone.”

It’s all about understanding each client, and responding to their needs on demand. With communications evolving constantly, businesses must make themselves available by every means possible. There is a great deal of value in having an active presence on social media, yet some businesses are still reluctant to adopt these mediums. Recent figures show that Twitter has 271 million monthly active users and Facebook has 1.317 billion… These are numbers to get excited about, not shy away from!

In a recent article, Dan Newman stated that “Approximately 70 percent of customer-service complaints made on Twitter go unanswered, according to a study conducted by Maritz and evolve24.” That is an incredibly high number, and if your business doesn’t have active social media channels, this is something to invest time and resource in to right now. Social media helps businesses to manage their reputation, create a community and engage with the public in real-time.

Customers want to feel like they’re being listened to and heard. If you, as a business say you will action something… Do it. There is no benefit to you ignoring a customer, but you can benefit from responding quickly and positively. One good review could lead to more customers… Loyal customers.

Create a Strategy

Surely, with all of these complaints going unanswered, there has to be some sort of answer. How can it be so difficult to deliver customer service that is quick and efficient? Customer service relies on people, on human interaction and understanding.

Eric Sherman recently gave a great piece of advice in his recent article on inc.com, “Invest in a CRM system and have people take notes. Make someone responsible for responding to emails, letters, and phone calls. Even if you don't ultimately agree with a customer's position, acting as though they exist means that you've said they matter, and they will appreciate and remember it.”

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an effective business strategy for creating customer loyalty. Adoption of this strategy should allow a business to understand their customers, including their behaviours. This should in turn help develop strong customer relationships. CRM should be part of a business’ work ethic, but it does rely on technology to aide its activities, so that a business can develop and react to their customer’s needs.

As part of this, businesses should always under promise and over deliver and keep records of all communications in order to find each customer’s expectations. Another great tip, is to incentivise staff and customers, create loyalty schemes where repeat customers get an added benefit, and staff are rewarded for retaining customers.

In order to create a customer retention strategy that will lead to loyalty, follow these steps:
1. Put someone in charge on customer service, and give them the resource they require in order to implement and action a strategy.
2. Set up a CRM system, to facilitate your customer relationship management strategy. Software such as Microsoft Dynamics from DMC Software, is easy to use and subsequently adopt because it integrates seamlessly with Office. It also has social listening capabilities, enabling businesses to analyse, target and respond to their audience.
3. Ask for feedback and respond to complaints quickly ensuring issues can be resolved efficiently. Don’t forget to shout-out about good feedback too. People are always more likely to tell someone about a bad experience compared to a good one, which is why it is so incredibly important to shout out about good feedback you receive.
4. Set up social media channels, ensure they’re actively used and monitored. Create lists/circles/groups to segment specific clients, or followers, in order to target them with the relevant information, just like on twitter.
5. Create a voice and identify with your community/audience. This can be through social media, blogging and contributing to other websites.

More tips for Customer loyalty:

We here at DMC asked businesses and professionals for their best tips for creating customer loyalty, and here’s what they had to say:

Emma Butcher from Foundation SP said, “We remember we’re in a service industry where the customer is king and we make only promises we can keep.”

Adam Mason, co-founder of Datify said, “The best tip I can give about customer loyalty is to measure it. Put steps in place to ask customers what they like and don’t like about your product or service. Record what they don’t like, take action to solve it and tell them what you have done. You will be surprised how much this will affect your customer loyalty by simply listening and taking action.

Easy WebContent said, “[Our] Best tip is to listen to users and find a common ground to what users want overall and get it to them in the best way possible.”

Ricardo Molina, founder of Bright Bull said, “Add value again and again in any way you can, they’ll appreciate the effort.”

Jesus Hoyos said, “Implement a culture and process to engage customers during the relationship cycle: acquire, maintain and maximise.”

For another interesting take on Customer Loyalty, read this article here, which was recently shared by John Colwell of Infoquest.

This article was written by Anna Morrish, a marketing executive from DMCSoftware.co.uk. She has an extensive knowledge of inbound marketing due to agency and in-house experience. Anna has written for a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and online publications.