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There are customers and then there are loyal customers. If you want to build a profitable business that’s positioned to last for decades to come, you need to improve customer loyalty. In other words, you need loyal customers who will trust you at every step along the way. And it’s up to you to cultivate this loyalty—or at least give it room to propagate.
What Is Customer Loyalty?
Customer loyalty is ultimately a byproduct of how customers feel about your brand. Improve how customers feel about your brand and you’ll earn more of their loyalty.
The first step is to calculate your customer retention rate (CRR), which is done using the following equation:
(Customers at the End of a Period – New Customers)
100 X ——————————————————————— = CRR
Customers at the Start of the Period
This tells you how many customers are sticking around. If your CRR is 50 percent, it means you’re losing half of your customers every period. If it’s 95 percent, you’re only experiencing five percent attrition.
“Unlike customer retention, customer loyalty measures how satisfied your customers are with their brand experience and how likely they would be to share that experience with others,” HubSpot mentions. “This takes customer retention one step further by analyzing customer satisfaction and its relation to your repeat sales.”
So while it’s a good idea to calculate customer retention rates, you can’t stop there. You have to take things that additional step and determine what level of loyalty your customers possess. And while it’s a little bit more subjective, it’s exponentially more powerful.
Customer loyalty is usually calculated through a combination of feedback (surveys, interviews, and focus groups), analytics (repeat purchases, open rates, and so on), and other telltale signs. You’ll have to work with the data you have, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
4 Ways to Improve Customer Loyalty
Once you have a feel for your current level of customer loyalty, you can turn your attention toward improving this loyalty. And here are some specific ways you can do just that:
1. Improve Customer Experience for more Customer Loyalty
Customer experience refers to how customers perceive your brand based on the totality of their exposure to it. And the higher the customer experience is, the more likely it is that a customer will exhibit traits of loyalty.
You’re the one who sets the overall context of the customer’s experience (which includes the product and service, interactions at point of sale, messaging, and even the post-sale stage). However, it’s the customer who determines the perception.
In other words, it’s up to you to influence customer experience, but then it’s in their hands. You can do your part by understanding who your customers are and delivering a consistent and compelling message at every touchpoint.
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2. Under Promise and Over Deliver
The problem in today’s business world is that so many brands make so many promises and yet deliver so little. You want to flip the script. Always, always, always under promise. Then make it your priority to over deliver. This is a practically foolproof method for improving customer loyalty.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re confident you can produce and deliver 100 widgets in seven days. Don’t tell the customer they can expect 100 widgets to show up in one week. Instead, set the bar lower and let them know that you’ll get them 75 widgets in nine days. Then work your hardest to deliver 125 widgets in five days. If you hit your goal, you’ve exceeded expectations by a longshot. But even if you only meet your internal standards, you’ve still over delivered.
There’s almost no way to lose with this approach. (The only thing you have to be careful of is to not under promise so badly that the customer goes elsewhere.)
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3. Leverage Social Proof
Customers like to believe they think for themselves and form objective opinions based on the facts presented to them. However, most customers are sheep. They follow the herd. You can use this to your advantage by implementing ample social proof in your marketing and branding. When customers see that other customers are loyal, they’re more likely to become loyal themselves, improving overall customer loyalty.
4. Give Before Asking
You should give a customer value many times over before ever asking for anything in return. In fact, you should give away your best stuff for free. Because as counterintuitive as it sounds, a customer who gets your best stuff for free (or heavily discounted) is going to assume that everything else is much better. At that point, they’ll trust you with their money.
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Grow Your Business the Right Way
It’s not enough to have a high customer retention rate. You want loyal customers who will vouch for your brand and refer new customers to your business. By cultivating a high degree of loyalty, you set your business up for years—possibly even decades—of sustainable success.