Consumers have access to information and opinions about products, brands and companies from an infinite number of sources. And with the rise of social media, the power to control the terms and tone of the brand-consumer relationship has shifted to the consumer.
As consumers have greater control, businesses face the challenge of transparency and consistency. Transparency means that any and every aspect of business operations and consumer interactions can (and will) be put under the microscope at any time. So, how can a company build and keep customer loyalty in today’s environment, where access to information is instant and seemingly never ending? Here are a few tips to improve customer loyalty:
- Create a dialog with consumers: Even as “dialog” is one of the most overused terms you’ll see today, it’s important to note that today’s consumers have expectations that businesses (and brands) must actively listen and respond to their feedback and inquiries. In fact, you have the capability and obligation to do so! Companies that don’t listen and respond can be taken to task very easily. Also clear is that the most vocal customers – more often than not – have the potential to be the best advocates for the brand, whether or not their first experiences were positive ones. The old saying of “turning lemons into lemonade” applies here: Discover the issue, fix the issue voluntarily, and loyalty and advocacy may follow.
- Apply consistent standards: It’s important to maintain consistent standards for customer interactions across all channels and touchpoints. This means consistency in retail and digital commerce channels. This means consistency in traditional PR and social media marketing. This means consistency in ground rules that dictate customer interactions – from the executive suite down to the call center.
- Find proactive ways to recognize and reward customers, then give them the tools to spread the word: Don’t make customers take the first step to be rewarded for loyalty. Being “proactive” is the key here, as consumers have less and less interest in taking the first step or initiative in being rewarded. That means that concepts of redemptions or loyalty-club registrations are becoming tiresome. Instead, it’s possible the motivators for customer loyalty may be much more basic and common-sense: frequent recognition, transparency in their business processes, and consistently providing value and satisfaction in every conceivable touchpoint. And when businesses do reward their customers, they give them to tools to spread the word.