You’ve probably heard that it’s cheaper to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one (which is true).
But few companies realize just how much customer retention can impact the bottom line. According to research from Bain & Co, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by 25% to 95%. Not bad, right?
The trouble is, retaining customers is harder than ever in the age of dying brand loyalty. With so much competition in the modern market, consumers can always find a brand that delivers the same products and services—just cheaper and faster.
And data shows that a good deal will often beat out consumer brand loyalty. For instance, 35% of women and 33% of men told Crowdtwist they would consider switching from their preferred brand in exchange for a better price, and 49% of consumers said they would gladly switch brands for a coupon.
So what can you do to retain customers in the face of these obstacles? Let’s explore the mind of the modern consumer, then look at some retention strategies than can help drive brand loyalty.
Brand Loyalty in the Modern Marketplace
Consumer expectations are rising
Consumers have 60% higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago, according to Parature. Consumer expectations are rising—fast.
Gone are the days of three-brand lifestyles. Today, consumers shop based on price, quality, speed, and overall customer experience. Of those qualifiers, research suggests that customer experience is taking the lead. By 2017, 89% of businesses will compete primarily on customer experience.
Customer experience is more important than ever
Here are some additional stats that paint a clear picture of modern consumers’ expectations:
- 71% of online customers expect help within five minutes. (LivePerson)
- 52% of customers are less likely to buy from a retailer because of a poor mobile experience. (Google)
- 95% of unhappy customers share their bad experience with others. (Zendesk)
What can we glean from this data? Well, overall customer experience—both online and offline—is more important than ever. The modern shopper will take any opportunity you give them to spend their money elsewhere.
So what can you do to keep the customers you’ve worked so hard to attain? Below, we’ll look at four key customer retention strategies that drive brand loyalty.
4 strategies that drive brand loyalty
1. Personalized customer experience
Delivering personalized content and experiences is one way to make each and every customer feel special—and it’s a great competitive differentiator too.
According to Virtual Incentives, brands that personalize their customer experience are perceived as smart, unique, and caring by the majority of consumers. Plus, over half of Millennial customers rank personalization as a high priority. It’s easy to see why more and more brands are focusing on delivering it.
So how do you promote brand loyalty through personalization?
- Marketing automation and personalized customer journeys tie customer details into the content you deliver them. For example, your email marketing platform likely has specific personalization tags that you can add to the subject line and email body. These personal touches not only increase open rates, they result in 6 times more sales.
- Personalized offers like “You may also like…” and “People like you…” present tailored suggestions based on the customer’s history. There’s a reason practically every retail giant uses this approach. It capitalizes on the influence of peer recommendations to encourage repeat purchases.
By designing a more customized experience for your buyers, you can effectively earn their trust and respect over time.
2. Customer loyalty programs
Perks can make loyal customers feel like VIPs. Loyalty programs give them one more reason to shop with you over a competitor. So what can you do to reward your best customers?
- Give top customers a sneak peek or early access to new products. When software companies roll out beta releases to their top customers, it benefits everyone: the company generates valuable, targeted feedback before the full release, while the customer gets to be a part of the select group that sees it first.
- Offer exclusive perks that encourage brand loyalty, like free shipping and monthly deals. Virgin America runs sales on airfare practically every month. Even if the prices are fairly comparable to their standard fare, the regular cadence of deals and offers portrays Virgin as customer-centric and deal-happy—two things modern consumers love.
- Include extras and “freebies” in customers’ orders. Sephora offers 3 samples with every online order, plus “Beauty Insider” reward points. The loyalty program has accelerated the cosmetic giant’s growth, making it a household name and the obvious choice for consumers.
Going the extra mile to surprise and delight means showing gratitude for customers. Create a mutual relationship of appreciation between your company and its most reliable customers, and they’ll reward you with brand loyalty.
3. Regular customer surveys
A dynamic customer feedback program helps you better serve your audience. From customer satisfaction to Net Promoter Score, ongoing customer surveys help you spot process and service gaps, follow up with unhappy customers, and cultivate brand advocacy among the happiest.
This rich data generated with customer surveys can inform future decisions and advance the entire organization’s understanding of your target audience.
But it’s not just about traditional customer support satisfaction…
- Sales organizations can use closed-lost surveys to reveal missteps in the sales process.
- Marketing teams can get competitive insight from prospects with brand surveys.
- Development teams can send product surveys to beta users.
The list goes on. Plus, companies can align customer feedback with their primary customer data using a Salesforce survey integration. With survey results in your CRM, customer feedback comes to life, drawing clear pathways to customer success or customer churn and revealing new opportunities for growth.
The bottom line here: survey, and survey often.
4. Robust customer support
Last but not least, beef up customer support resources to help your customers succeed.
U.S. companies lose as much as $41 billion each year due to poor customer service and support. That’s no small chunk of change. Add to this the fact that 68% of customers have switched companies because of poor customer service, and the value of robust customer support becomes clear.
Omni-channel customer support is tomorrow’s blueprint for customer satisfaction and success. It takes multi-channel support a step further, focusing on customer support from the customer perspective. Rather than fragmented interactions, omni-channel is all about a cohesive customer experience. If you call into support, tomorrow’s email case shouldn’t restart the conversation, but simply continue it.
Self-service is another huge factor. When you empower customers to solve issues themselves, you streamline support processes and develop proactive measures, ultimately saving time and money.
Today’s consumer may be less loyal than yesterday’s, but there are plenty of modern ways to combat churn and drive retention.
The tips above culminate into one main message: customer care matters most. If you show your customers that they’re valued, they’re more likely to stick by you. It’s a simple concept, but it’s easy to lose sight of it when you’re focused on metrics rather than people.
As brands begin prioritizing customer experience above customer acquisition, we may well see a wide resurgence of brand loyalty among consumers.