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How to instil Customer Loyalty

customer loyalty

Customers are the lifeline of your business which is why when it comes to elevating your brand, customer service should be a priority. Simply put, loyal customers are profitable. Repeat customers mean repeat purchases and in some cases, increased purchases. This is why it’s often said that it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer base. So, how to do you ensure that your customers keep coming back? By making sure they trust your brand.

Trust is what sets brands apart. Not what they have to offer or how affordable the services/products are (although these are factors) but how they treat their customers. Customers are likely to gravitate towards a brand that provides them with the best consumer experience. You can foster brand loyalty in the following ways:

Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to customer service, which is why you should always strive to provide each customer with the same excellent service. How do you do this? Most large businesses will have a customer service team in place. This helps to ensure that the same message is being communicated to your customers at all time.

For a small business with a limited marketing budget, it’s more about intentions and actions than how much you spend. There are small but effective ways to thank your customer for their loyalty. These include ‘thank you’ emailers or rewarding them for their loyalty

There’s always room for improvement

Perfect is a fantasy when it comes to running a business and providing a service. There is always room for improvement and the best place to find out where you’re ‘lacking’ is your customers. Reaching out to your consumers means you value their opinion enough to help shape your business.

Create a survey regarding your customer service. Find out from your customers about their experience while engaging with your brand. This way, you’re able to determine which aspects of your customer service you should continue and which areas need improvement. Another method is to research why customers have abandoned your brand. If you can get your hands on these statistics, it would be a good idea to analyze and perhaps get feedback on what went wrong.

Be visible

If you’re lacking a social media presence in the 21st century, it’s likely that you won’t attract new customers – especially if you’re looking to increase your reach to the younger demographic. Being active on social media is important because people may get a clearer idea of who you are. The more visible you are, the more they’ll begin to accept and trust your brand message.

Social media can be used to advertise promotions or give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at how the business operates. The more they see, the more trust they’ll have in your brand.

Over-deliver

One of the main reasons customers have a hard time trusting brands is they’ve been let down. It’s why they part ways with a brand and move on to the next one. To avoid this, your customer experience strategy is to under-promise and over-deliver.

For example, if you’ve promised a client that you’ll complete something within 10 days, try and deliver within 7 days. If you’re consistent with this pattern, they’ll start trusting you more and you may receive repeat business. Even better, the word will spread and word-of-mouth marketing is something money can’t buy.

Sometimes, the customer is always right and it’s important that you always do right by them. Customers are the reason that your business has survived this long, which is why customer service should be one of your top priorities.
To ensure that you’re always improving, customer service training is important, especially if you’re part of or lead a team that deals directly with customers.

The Importance of Customer Service

The Importance of Customer Service

Imagine this: you walk into a store looking for a pair of birthday sneakers for your nephew. It’s sneakers you know he’d love and bonus, it’s half price! You’re searching for his size but can’t find it. Perhaps the staff will know but the only problem is, you can’t find a single employee on the floor. When you do find someone, it takes a further 15 minutes and just when you thought they forgot about you, they finally found the size!

Browsing around the store, you notice there’s one cashier at the tills and the line is enough to make you put the sneakers down and head out the store. You make your way to the line and persist, but in your mind, you’ve made a promise to never step foot in the store again – even during sale time.

You’ve heard the saying that the customer is always right. It’s a sentiment with negative connotations but really highlights why customer service is vital to your business. The above scenario is one that happens too often. No matter what value you offer your customer, you also need to ensure that you’re offering them a top-quality service.

Great customer service could positively affect your business in the following ways:

Retention is cheaper than acquisition

While it’s always great to attract more customers, you always need to rely on the loyalty of your current customers. Why? Your current set of customers know your brand inside out and they know what to expect and will likely be spending more. Meanwhile, new customers will be testing the waters. You’ll also be spending more on marketing to them to depict why you’re a trustworthy brand.

What most brands do is award loyalty rewards to current customers. This could a point system or a reward for being a loyal customer. By taking care of your old customers, word will spread and you’re likely to gain a new ‘fan base’.

Increase your brand image

Take your mind back to the scenario at the beginning of the blog. You’ve experienced such bad customer service and you’re ready to tell everyone you know. Maybe this is not the first time the store has had such poor customer service and it now has a reputation for it?

Brand reputation is important. Simply put, a bad reputation = fewer sales. Know what your brand represents and make sure that it’s a mission statement that your employees practice every day. Building a customer service team will help put the focus on great and effective services. This team will tend to the needs of the customers, define positive customer experience, and ensure that there is always a customer conversion.

Increased profit

A bad experience means that you’re ready to head out the store – with or without an item. Exceptional customer services mean that the employees have gone above and beyond to ensure that customers have left with a smile on their face. How do you make sure this happens whenever someone interacts with your brand?

Find out what your customers want. If you tend to their needs – and do it well – they’ll likely come back and spread the word. Customer surveys are still an effective method when it comes to finding out what they want or what change they’d like to see. Your customer service team will then look at results and implement accordingly.

Always remember to align your customer’s expectations with your own. By doing this, you’re likely to build a lasting strategy that will ensure your brand is always on good terms with your loyal clientele.

Growth is about continuous learning. Research and short courses will help you discover more about relationship building with your customers and how to lead customer management strategy.

Design A Better Customer Experience

Exceptional service offering

In order for your business to survive, you need customers. It’s not just about getting customers through your door, but to ensure you maintain a loyal base, while still attracting new followers. This is why it’s important to create a customer experience strategy.

What is a customer experience strategy

A customer experience (CX) is the number of activities that a company undertakes to deliver a series of positive interactions. Together, the result is an exceptional product or service offering. Creating a customer experience strategy is important because you get the chance to deliver more and also ensure efficient productivity.

The CX should consider the following:

  • Reachability
  • Purchase convenience
  • Service convenience
  • Personalisation
  • Simple processes
  • Flexibility

Difference between customer experience and customer service

While the two are often assumed to mean the same thing, there are differences. Customer service is the interaction with customers while customer experience focuses on the customer’s journey with your company.

Why you should have a customer experience strategy

While it sounds like a lot of work, developing this strategy has numerous benefits including:

Increased customer engagement

Customer engagement builds loyalty and in today’s consumer climate, people care more about what brands have done to make their experience a positive one. With an effective customer experience strategy, consumers will keep coming back for more.

Customer conversion

A good customer experience strategy creates a life-cycle of feedback that will increase conversion rates. By prioritising relationships with customers, you’ll start growing your customer base. You’ll also have a better chance of buy-in when you start launching new products or expanding.

Word of mouth marketing

When more and more people are experiencing positive customer engagement, it could lead to word of mouth marketing. This is basically the best type of marketing for your business – it’s free and comes from a reliable source (a satisfied customer).

What to include in your customer experience strategy

According to a study by consulting firm Walker, by next year, customer experience will be the most important factor customers consider when it comes to a brand differentiator. Look at the following when designing your customer experience strategy:

Know your customer personas

The first step in the process is researching your customer’s persona. You should create a group of 1-5 personas that usually frequent your store. The idea is to determine the needs of these customers and to make sure you’re always offering what they want. You want to empathise with them if they face a challenge and provide the ultimate support.

What is your customer experience vision?

You need a customer vision that needs to be embedded within all facets of the organisation. What is a customer experience vision? It’s basically a mission statement. The statement could be something along the lines of “Always be humble” or “Provide innovative service”. These statements should be immersed within the company and should reflect when you’re interacting with customers.

Rely on customer feedback

How else will you know if you’re doing right by your customer? Feedback helps you determine what you’re doing well and where you could improve. Capturing feedback could be in the form of a survey or customer email. If you have the capacity, outbound calls could work too. You could review the feedback monthly, weekly, or yearly.

You can enhance your customer management experience on the job or by looking at short courses that will help you develop these skills. The great benefit of the courses is that you can use the skills on the job. Develop core principles to set your brand apart from the rest.

Advice for successful project managers

successful project managers

Successful project managers know how to be a jack of all trades, all the time. You need to develop strong business acumen, outstanding leadership/mentorship skills and a level head that can plan, control, execute and mitigate risk all at the same time, on a daily basis. If you are just starting out as a project management professional, these essential tips on successful project management will help you get the ball rolling for a fundamental grasp of project management basics.

Tip 1: Successful project mangers learn to Observe their surroundings

As a project manager you are going to be running a team and they are going to be constantly looking to you for guidance and mentorship. Soak up your surroundings and analyse your team members, learn their strengths and weaknesses and apply each member to tasks accordingly. Successful project managers listen to what their team has to say and implements their suggestions accordingly. This will show cohesion and willingness for an adaptable project management style.

Tip 2: Work Smart and Solve Problems

Successful project managers are apart of the solution rather than the problem. Planning is the biggest factor that allows project management professionals to mitigate risk. If you do your fair share of planning before the initial project phases, then you will be able to solve problems much more efficiently and mitigate potential threats.

Tip 3: Utilise Tools Effectively

Whether you’re a traditional pen and paper enthusiast or if you make use of project management software, as a project manager you need to know your working tools extensively. Online project management software brings team members together. Successful project managers stay a step ahead and look to optimise working platforms in any way possible, to make the project run more efficiently. Keep taking notes on what works and what doesn’t and stay on track of the projects goals.

Tip 4: The Customer is King

Your customers may be individuals or organisations as a project manager. You need to learn what your customers want and how to give it to them. Successful project managers listen to their customers needs and adapt the project management strategy around their wants. Once you learn to satisfy the needs of your customer while performing the project management steps you will grow rapidly within the industry.

Tip 5: Successful project managers get educated

There are a variety of options available for a project management qualification, especially in today’s digital age.  You can study a project management degree, opt for a project management online course or even a project management short course certificate. Your qualification or furthering your studies will show your employer that you are committed to a successful project mangers mindset. Pursue your qualification with passion and you may soon find yourself a member of the Project Management Institute of South Africa (PMISA).

Why you should calculate your customer lifetime value

Your customer matters more than a single purchase. But how much more? The ‘how much’ part is called the ‘customer lifetime value’. Not knowing this important calculation is no better than lacking an appreciation for the value of the service you’re offering.

Customer lifetime value (LTV)  is the monetary value that a customer can offer during the entire span of their relationship with your brand. There are many ways that this can be calculated  but the following method is the most easily obtainable measure of LTV:

(avg. value of sale) x (avg. number of repeat purchases) x (avg. retention time)

Let’s break this down even further:

Average value of sale is the monetary average of an individual sale. This is determined by calculating the total sales revenue for the year and dividing it by the number of sales for the year.

Example: R 5 000 000 sale value / 50,000 sales = R 100 per sale

Average number of repeat purchases is the amount of times a customer is likely to purchase goods from you. To calculate this, take the total number of sales for the year and divide it by the total number of unique customers for the same year.

Example: 30,000 sales / 10,000 customers = 3 sales per customer

Average retention time can be defined as the number of years a customer shops with you.

Calculating retention time in two easy steps:

Step 1: Calculate the churn rate. Churn rate is the drop-off percentage of customers from one year to the next (the percentage that you keep is your retention rate).

Example:

15,000 customers (2015)

10,000 customers (2016)

Retention rate = 67%

Therefore, Churn rate = 33%

Step 2: Once you have your Churn rate and Retention rate, calculate your average retention time using this formula:

Example:

Retention time = 1/churn rate

i.e. 1/33%

= 3 years

Now, with these results, you can calculate LTV = R 100 x 3 x 3

Therefore: LTV = R 900

Knowing how much value you can expect of your customers, means you can strategise accordingly. An effective approach is to create ‘value segments’ based on the current spend of your customers, and design multiple strategies that suit each specific segment. You’ll also be able to maximise your marketing budget with a firm grasp of what your target CPA and return on investment should be.

Operating without an understanding of your customer lifetime value will disorganise your business and engage you in constant analysis of your budgets and targets. Run your business skillfully and carefully, with direction and ambition. Success is about more than just a single sale.

By Yazeed Osman, CRM Specialist

Yazeed has helped many companies improve their customer experience by implementing data led initiatives. He’s also founded, Usfl, a local UX design & Behavourial Marketing company focused on customer relationship management.