“Buy a dog if you want loyalty”, so the saying goes…
When it comes to customer loyalty there are two kinds of ‘hounds’: The loyal ones that seek you out, and the ones that roam the neighbourhood, foraging through everyone else’s trash. You want the ones that keep coming to your door, because they know what you are offering is what they want, and it’s of great quality.
(In no way am I disparaging dogs or customers, we’re using an analogy here, so before you start growling… )
You see, loyal customers are precious; what use is there acquiring them if you don’t know how to retain them? Customer retention should be an ongoing process, continuing throughout the customer’s entire relationship with your brand; think how long a dog lives? Well, longer than that!
Keep ‘feeding’ customers and nurturing them, ensure their health is good, they have their regular shots (campaigns, events, specials, blogs that ‘chat’ to them, etc) and before you know it, you have a ‘guard dog’ of note that represents you and protects your brand. In marketing they are called Brand Ambassadors and while the moniker appears rather tame, they can be just as fierce as any four-legged friend!
Just make sure that you are sincere, dogs know these things. If customers feel that they are expedient and good for the one-off purchase, there is no need for them to come back or to hang around. If you give Fido a really tasty meal one day, don’t expect him to be happy with a couple of dried out scraps the next day. (Okay, maybe he will, but back to the analogy…)
The more loyal consumers you have, the faster you can achieve your business goals and, with a Brand Ambassador (Fido) representing you and singing your praises, goals are met faster, and the premises/brand is protected while it grows.
It’s not all about new…
As you acquire new customers, it is critical to improve ways to ensure they stay with you for the distance and become a loyal audience to your business, but don’t neglect the existing ones.
Although returning customers may account for only 20% of the people that use your services/products, according to Forbes, it is this 20% that is responsible for driving as much as 80% of your revenue.
In simple lingo, that means, don’t ignore Skippy, the little guy that has been in the family for a while now; he also has great importance, I mean, he’s fended off his fair share of interlopers and chancers too!
The guide Marketing Metrics outlines that you have a 5-20% chance of selling to new buyers, but a 60-70% chance of selling to your existing customers. So, get stuff for Skippy too, okay, as he is less costly than acquiring a new customer and in fact, acquiring new consumers is five to 25 times costlier than retaining your existing customers.
Customer appreciation builds loyalty
A well-timed scratch behind the ear will work wonders for Skippy, whereas a good juicy Sunday roast bone will hold Fido’s attention. See what I am illustrating here? They both require attention and care, some are more time and or cost intensive, while the other can tick over, so long as you acknowledge that they have needs and you see to them timeously.
Customer retention 101 is: Ensure the processes your consumers go through are as seamless as possible.
Customers will remember and patronise companies that treat them well. No hound worth his tail wag will stick around for poor treatment, ignored needs or ambivalence; he’ll look elsewhere for that pat, that back scratch or that tasty morsel.
In the two-legged world, there are a number of touchpoints to keep the customer coming back, including implementing customer Loyalty Programs that encourage your consumers to make repeat purchases in exchange for rewards, increasing purchase frequency.
Constantly reach out to your consumers through email, keep in touch, make them feel appreciated. This keeps you top of mind to your customers. Send outreach emails outlining special offers specific to their taste/profile around product or service updates; a birthday greeting, an uplifting quote or a simple hello remind them to remember you; don’t just walk past those hounds without a pat, a greeting or giving them a chance to retrieve that stick you’ve thrown. Playtime can lead to Purchase time too, if you get what I mean. Use it to build positive relationships with your customers.
So too, gratitude and acknowledgement go a long way to strengthening loyalty.
When Fido bites that guy who jumped your fence, praise him and reward him, and when Skippy snaps at that Uncle who keeps smacking him out of the way with his walking stick, give him a jolly good belly rub. (Skippy, not the uncle…)
Appreciation goes a long way in keeping your existing consumers. Thanking them for choosing you, your brand, illustrates that you value them and appreciate their purchases/loyalty.
The reality is, it is up to the customer where they spend and there is plenty competition to choose from, but being appreciative to your base will make you stand out from the rest in a sea of ambivalence.
Something as simple as sending thank you notes or offering special discounts, free products, and special offers — all go a long way in building retention, as is a well-timed social media shout out to them.
Customers also like to be heard, so don’t be above hearing feedback.
Hear me! Woof!
Customers value engagement and this doesn’t mean telling them to “Sit! Stay! Fetch!”
There are times that customers want to be heard. Often, companies/businesses experience drop-off when they don’t listen to their customers. It’s always a good idea to ask for your consumers’ viewpoint and show them that what they think actually has value and that their thoughts matter to your company.
Constantly pushing your product without reaching out to hear what their needs are can make you appear uncaring and only profit focused. Don’t you be like a dog with a bone, not letting go of your marketing push! Find out what solutions customers need and how you can help meet them.
So too, a loyal staff complement that values their job and is skilled in customer engagement will not only enhance your reputation but strengthen customer retention.
And to remind you who exactly calls the shots, consider this pearl of wisdom:
“If aliens saw us walking our dogs and picking up their poop, who would they think is in charge?” – Anonymous
Make sure you are on hand to cope with the sometimes unpleasant side of customer retention, or have people and staff who are, and both Fido and Skippy will be around for years to come!