As it appeared in the Daily Nation on August 20th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
It is every smart business’ wish that if someone purchases a product or service they will be back for more. Such businesses also desire that these customers pass on a positive word of mouth to other people. The return for more and the referrals define loyal customers. How many customers are loyal to your business? Do your customers feel the urge to come back for more? What are they saying about you?
Loyal customers are good for business. They cost much less to retain compared to the cost of acquiring new customers. What is more valuable is that loyal customers assist in the attraction of new customers. Additionally, loyal customers are open to sharing honest feedback with our businesses. It is their desire to see businesses they patronage and really care about get better. Do you know your customers? What makes them come back? Why are they saying what they are saying about your business? What can you do to make most if not all your customers loyal?
In most industries, customers have a choice. Smart businesses should therefore take up the challenge to create a loyal customer base. This can happen irrespective of the industry. To create a loyal customer base, businesses need to go beyond the traditional reward and loyalty programs. I recently made a purchase and the staff asked me if I could apply for a reward card. I hesitated. I did not feel like getting rewards would make me want to come back. I also did not like the idea of filling in a form. Why could they not simply capture my telephone number into their system and send me a link to accept to be in their database and qualify for the rewards?
Rewards and loyalty points are not enough to drive customer loyalty. It is the end-to-end experience and engagement that drives loyalty. The depth of engagement determines how the customer feels about the business, its people and its products and services throughout the interactions. Business leaders must appreciate that how customers feel is at the centre of making them come back later for more. If a customer feels unwanted, why would they want to come back? What customers say is as a result of how they feel about the overall experience. If they like the experience, they will have good things to say and vice versa. Treat your customer as royals and they will stay loyal!
Businesses that want to create loyal customers need to go back to the basics. They can do so by first putting the customer at the centre of every decision and action. This position should be evident. Such businesses should be more intentional about making the customer experience effortless, painless and seamless at every point of interaction. Further, businesses have the opportunity to integrate data analytics into steering customer loyalty. Unfortunately, many are not using readily available customer data thus missing the opportunity to keep track of their loyal customers. In this era of the customer, smart companies must focus on creating loyal customers as a strategic priority. How many of your customers are loyal?
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy