The retail world has rapidly expanded in the advent of the digital age, and customers have more choice than ever before. But with more choice comes more competition, and a shift in focus for consumers. where brand loyalty was once a deciding factor, customers are now more concerned with price and quality, regardless of the brand who supplies it. With this in mind, what can companies do to foster a sense of brand loyalty?
Do brands really need customer loyalty?
Customer loyalty is vital in terms of maintaining profitability, according to a report by Bain & Co. Having loyal customers is an indication that a business is providing a sought-after service and that they’re meeting the needs of their market.
“The Value of Online Customer Loyalty” study revealed that it wasn’t until the fourth visit to an online clothes store that online customers brought a company profit. This translated to a customer staying with a business for 12 months to allow the company to break even. In addition to this, a shopper’s tenth purchase was found to be almost 80% larger than the first. Statistics like these demonstrate how important it is to hold onto customers.
Once a customer has generated a number of repeat purchases with a brand, a positive connection builds between the customer and the brand. These customers begin to trust this business too and this leads to customers recommending the service to others. This can then lead to new business from those who have learned about the brand’s positive reputation through word-of-mouth.
Customer loyalty also generates more chances to upsell other products and services. For example, if a customer trusts a business as somewhere to buy a new dress from, if they were in search of new shoes, it’s likely that they’d go to the same place — knowing the quality of service to expect.
Another report revealed that, as long as they received an exceptional service, 86% of customers would be willing to pay 25% more for an item. This is important to bear in mind too, as businesses can look to increase their prices if customers are aware of the good service that they offer.
Creating the perfect conditions for brand loyalty
One area firms must look at when nurturing brand loyalty is friction points. These are points where the customer resists the sale even though they may have had the intention of purchasing. This could be down to confusion, aggravation, or tiredness. A company must work on reducing these instances in order to keep customers on their side and generate sales.
In terms of customer service, CRM Barometer reported that:
- 85% of UK customers would leave a brand because of a poor customer experience.
- 52% of customers said that handling problems quickly with no queue is what they define to be ‘outstanding’ customer experience.
- 36% said that having customer service available across many channels was important.
- 22% said receiving relevant communication at the right time and through the right channel was something they value.
There is certainly an element of impatience among customers who are now used to digital benefits. And, in many ways, technology has made the sales process easier. From giving the customer instantaneous access to customer service channels, to the ability to see a full product range with the click of a few buttons. How else can companies reduce friction points through technology?
One-click buying is a key way to do this. This usually involves a customer inputting their payment and delivery information one time only and the website remembering this — enabling customers to simply make a purchase with the press of a ‘buy now’ button.
Customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to methods of purchase. This could be in-store, through a website, or through social channels. This allows the customer to shop however they feel most comfortable and through a platform that is most convenient to them — hopefully giving them a positive purchasing experience with few friction points.
Product images are a great way to reduce any uncertainty over a product that might hinder the choice to buy. This allows the customer to learn more about the product or service and find out if this is for them. A form of this technique is also used through influencer marketing, where individuals wear the dresses or shoes you sell, for example, so that people can see what they look like on ‘normal’ people rather than just on the models on the website.
H Obviously, a good website that is simple to access and use is the first step to reducing customer friction. This is achieved through simple navigation, mobile-friendly platforms, and fast-loading pages.
Good customer service needs to be tailored to each unique customer, responding to them as a person and not a sale. According to the DMA’s Customer Engagement 2017 report, 72% of customers would like loyalty offers to be more related to them and their needs.
Customer data garnered through insights is a great way for companies to see their customer demographic. Through this, a company should be tailoring offers and communications to truly target that audience. Not only does this make the customer feel valued, it also brings to their attention products and services that they may be genuinely interested in. Communications like these are more likely to result in a sale.
Retaining customers is not only as important as it ever was, but it’s also a difficult task. Although people are less likely to stick with one brand, there are things that companies can do to improve the likelihood that a customer will stay loyal. From taking time to reduce friction points, to introducing tailored services, a business must understand its customer’s needs to stand out from the rest.