Customer loyalty is important – and especially so for repeat purchases or subscriptions that benefit from customers buying from the firm over time. Loyal customers are not only likely to opt to buy from you over other firms (potentially paying a premium for your brand), but may also promote your products with friends and colleagues. This article explores some key components of building and maintaining customer loyalty.
A distinguishable brand identity
A central part of customer loyalty is building a brand that they can trust. Without a brand, the customers may value the product that they buy, but not necessarily buy the same one again. Without awareness of the manufacturer or brand of the product that they like, the likelihood of repeat purchases plummet. The awareness of the brand, and their loyalty to it, keep them coming brand.
Product features and service quality
Living up to expectations
One of the primary ways of building and maintaining customer loyalty is living up to customer expectations. Whether it is the features that they were expecting, the durability of the product or the benefits that they gain from it, delivering the product that the customer was expecting is a critical component of customer loyalty.
Features that delight
A distinction can be made between the essential features that a product must have, and those that go above and beyond what a customer was expecting. Products may include features that customers didn’t even realize for the outset that they would want or need.
If you are able to embed features that delight into your product offerings this can drive customer loyalty. Customers may opt to pick your products in the future, not just because of the features that they know will be included, but also because of the expectations that there will likely be other hidden benefits that they were not able to predict, but know that they will like.
A final component of the product or service attributes that is important for driving customer loyalty is the aftersales support. Not everything will also go as expected with your services – there will inevitably be times when customers are disappointed. The support that you provide however can be a key determining factor in maintaining customer loyalty. Having confidence that you will be able to have your issues resolved should you have issues can be a big component of customer loyalty.
Product availability - available in sales channels
Availability of the goods in the retail chains where your customers shop can be important to building brand loyalty. A danger of product unavailability is that they may opt for a competitor’s product – potentially resulting in them preferring that product over yours. Making sure that your product is widely available can reduce the likelihood that customers will be given reasons to switch to other products.
Consistency across offerings
A final component of ensuring customer loyalty is consistency across your product offerings. If customers can rely on getting similar experiences across your various product offerings, they are likely to be much more inclined to remain loyal customers, choosing your brands above others. On the other hand, if there are is large discrepancies between your offerings, this loyalty is less likely to develop. Customers who get unexpected or inconsistent experiences are much less likely to become brand loyal.
Final thoughts: Bad experiences can quickly break customer loyalty
It is important to recognize that while customer loyalty may result in them making repeat purchases – and potentially mean that they overlook small issues with the firm – this loyalty can also be broken. While it takes a lot of effort to establish loyal customers, one particularly bad experience with the firm can break this trust. Loyal customers may have defined expectations of how they think your firm should behave, and actions that go against this can shatter the loyalty that you have established.
Thus while there may be many ways that your firm benefits from loyal customers, it is important not to rest on this. Loyalty is not a substitute for providing good service. Indeed, if you rest on positive goodwill, it is quickly likely that the loyalty that you have built will quickly disappear.
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