In any business, customer loyalty is crucial. It can make the difference between a business that is thriving and a business barely yielding a decent turnover. Apple capitalizes and thrives on the fierce loyalty of iPhone users, just the same as Nike does. However, customer loyalty won’t fall on any business owner’s lap, it’s earned over time, and retained over time as well. It’s a long game. Brand perception and awareness has a large influence on customer retention and attraction. Below are techniques which will help you pull in new customers, retain old customers and win back displeased customers by making them fall in love with your business.

1.      Quality service/products

Winning over customers or clients is no easy feat, but the most important aspect of is providing quality service or products. Not only is it important that your service or product quality is superb, but consistently so. In addition, quality isn’t solely about how good your product or service is, but how reliable you are in providing the service; how dependable the product is; and how consistent your brand is in providing that service/product whilst maintaining the value. Convenience is another major aspect that should be taken into account when providing real value. The less effort the customer is required to put in, the better. Ensure that you make the acquisition and use of your service/product as easy and simple as possible.

2.      Provide memorable customer service

Excellent customer service is a trait distinctly lacking from a countless number of brands in Zimbabwe, and yet this is one of the most distinguishing features of any successful business. Generally, human beings like to be treated with deference, to be given full attention, especially when they’re spending their hard-earned money. Providing excellent customer service is a sure-fire way to make customers fall in love with your business. Treat customers so well that your brand becomes synonymous with superior customer experience. Additionally, ensure potential clients are treated just as well as existing customers. A key factor that contributes to great customer service is how well you treat your employees, after all, some of them deal directly with your customers. Treat them well and pay them well. A happy employee results in happy customers.

3.      Permit public accessibility and communication

Allowing easy accessibility to brand representatives by customers means they can give feedback, launch complaints and file general queries painlessly. Encourage your customers to provide you with feedback pertaining to your service/product quality. This can serve as unofficial, informal market research that could assist you in improving your service/product. Social media has made this ridiculously easy, giving customers direct communication with businesses. However, simply being accessible is not enough, responding to customers as quickly as possible is very essential. This aspect intertwines intimately with providing excellent customer service. Moreover, communicating with customers before any major or drastic changes is an important feature of quality service. This shows you have their interests at heart, and care about them.

4.      Host promotions, events and give discounts

Promotions and giveaways helps attract new customers and thrills existing ones. The idea of possibly winning anything appeals to customers and keeps them coming back, hoping for a lucky win. Giveaways can be hosted on social media, as quite a number of major brands are doing. Unsurprisingly this increases engagement on social media and brand awareness, inspiring loyalty. Discounts also inspire customer loyalty. Knowing that at particular times of the year, they can buy products or services at reduced prices entices customers to shop, with the intention of saving some of their money. The bigger the discount, the better.

Hosting events, such as family fun days, walkathons or cocktails, could also help your customers fall in love with your business. Offering customers a chance to enjoy themselves with their families, or simply mingle with people at a social event, fosters a sense of belonging within the customers, allowing them to publicly associate with the brand. The more customers willingly declare their association to the brand, the more loyal they may be inclined to feel towards your brand.

5.      Practice corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Giving back to the community is a good way of thanking customers and playing your part in bettering the community. CSR shows customers that you care about the community and are not just intent on profit making. In addition, it’s good for the image of the brand, although that should never be the primary reason for CSR activities. Perhaps it is wiser to select CSR that is relevant to the main line of the business, rather than one entirely unrelated to it. Good examples include; a fashion retail chain donating clothes; a bank or micro-finance sponsoring budding entrepreneurs; and a fast food restaurant donating food to orphanages. Showing customers that you are concerned about the community creates the impression of an empathetic brand, making customers fall in love with it.

Customers may be easy to acquire in some instances but retaining them, in all cases, is difficult. This is of course with the exception of monopolies. Consistency in all the above will ensure customers fall in love with your business and remain loyal in the face of increased competition. It is often said that “customer is king”, and perhaps that is true, because after all, there is no business without the customer.

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