Customer loyalty is the relationship between a company and its customers. It is a process through which customers feel bound to a company and are happy to return again and again. The bond between a company and its customers is influenced by various factors, such as quality, prices and, above all, service.
Strong customer loyalty ensures that customers remain loyal to the company and keep coming back and buying. There are various ways and tools to strengthen customer loyalty.
In any case, it is essential that you show your customers that they are important to you. This is the only way to build long-term relationships and increase customer satisfaction through strong customer loyalty with an overarching goal and a well-thought-out customer loyalty strategy.
Customer loyalty or efficient customer loyalty management is important for every company. It builds long-term business relationships and thus ensures vital sales. There are various ways and tools to bind your customers to your company and thus strengthen your brand against the competition.
These include, for example, excellent customer service, attractive discounts or personal support. It is important that customer loyalty measures are used regularly and are adapted to the needs of your customers.
This way, you can build long-term relationships with your customers and ensure that they are happy to return to you again and again. Because as Chip Bell, an expert in customer loyalty and service innovation, says: "Loyal customers don't just come back, they don't just recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you."
Customer loyalty measures (often referred to as customer loyalty tools) are strategies and actions that a company can use to retain its customers. By implementing various activities, such as targeted discounts, sophisticated customer loyalty programs, good customer service, consistent communication, etc., customers are encouraged to return. Repeat customers are converted into loyal regular customers. Customer loyalty measures can be of great benefit to both B2B and B2C companies - there is a separate definition for the individual measures of the different segments.
Customer loyalty can take the form of discounts, gifts or other benefits, but can also be achieved through good communication, excellent support and a great range of services. We have summarized the TOP 5 customer loyalty measures here - for both B2C and B2B.
Suitable product & service range
Customer loyalty programs
The best customer retention measure is good service. If you offer your customers excellent service, they will want to come back to you again and again.
Make sure that all your employees are friendly and helpful. Every single person should make an effort to solve customers' problems. Because as soon as your customers realize that they are taken seriously, they will remain loyal to you - even if you may not be able to solve every problem for your customers.
Good service and good customer service can also set you apart from the competition and can bring you new customers as well as loyal regular customers.
Take your customers' complaints seriously. The effect of negative service experiences cannot be offset by any marketing activities in the world. Good service is the be-all and end-all for successful customer loyalty - because unfortunately, negative customer experiences spread three times more easily than positive ones: on average, good experiences are shared with three people, but negative ones with nine more. So make sure that you offer your customers at least three times more positive experiences than negative ones.
Be accessible. Good service also means making it easy for your customers to communicate with you. The best way to do this is via the medium most used by society today: the smartphone; or via chat on the website. Also pay attention to your response time. Customer inquiries should be processed quickly. If this is not possible, at least let your customers know when you expect to respond.
Remember that excellent service goes beyond sales. Most companies take good care of their customers, or rather their potential customers, until the sale. But once the sale is complete, customers are unfortunately sometimes forgotten. Good service also includes good customer service after the contract has been signed. That way, your customers remain satisfied and will buy from you again.
According to a customer survey, 80% of customers already expect a personalized approach and individual offers. The market shows that customers who are met personally are more likely to remain loyal to the company. The following measures can be derived from this:
Take advantage of this opportunity and address your customers individually and with offers tailored to their preferences. A good customer database (CRM system) is helpful here, where you can store and use all the information. After your customer's first purchase, you usually already know their name, gender and address. Maybe even their birthday.
This data already allows for a personalized approach on all channels and gives your customers a feeling of appreciation. If you now save interests based on the purchase, you can easily send thematically appropriate offers. Many tools help you to automate this step and the appropriate messages.
Be authentic and transparent. Honest communication will strengthen your customers' trust. Tell them openly about the reasons for irregularities, such as delivery delays or price increases. Open communication will be met with more understanding and less dissatisfaction.
As mentioned, good customer service is also crucial for customer loyalty. This also includes continuous communication with your customers. One of the best measures is to communicate regularly, in line with Patricia Fripp's motto: "It's not your customer's job to remember you, it's your duty and responsibility to make sure they can't forget you".
Make it easy for your customers to contact you. Your contact details should be easily accessible, constantly updated and clearly visible, e.g. on your website, with a Google MyBusiness entry, on social media, etc. The easier it is for your customers to get in touch with you, the stronger the bond with your company will be.
Regular communication not only keeps you in the minds of your customers, but also gives you the opportunity to talk to them about new ideas. Maybe you'll innovate together and invent new products or services. This also makes your customers feel special and gives them a sense of WE. Not only social media, but also other forms of direct communication - for example by email, phone or push notifications - are ideal for this purpose.
Another measure for customer loyalty is the right range of products and services. The products or services must be suitable for your target group and meet the requirements of your customers.
New companies often check the product-market fit to ensure that there is a relevant demand for their products or services. But you can also test new ideas before you offer them to all customers. Your own community will help you with this: Pick a few of your customers and form a task force with them to test new products or services. This can also be a very effective customer retention strategy.
Only when this task force has approved the new idea do you roll it out to all customers. Those customers who are selected for the task force feel honored and even more connected to the company. Customers also often have great ideas that you might not have come up with on your own. In the medium term, this can not only boost the positive perception of your company, but also sales.
Regardless of whether you are active in B2B or B2C, new products or services not only attract new customers, but also strengthen the bond with existing customers.
Tip: You can also turn it into a game - true to the motto of gamification increases user engagement: "Win a place on our task force!" It is known that people like to win something and are therefore more likely to take part. You can also use the competition to collect information (preferences, birthday, etc.). Simply request the data in the competition form.
Bonus programs are a classic customer loyalty measure. With a customer loyalty program that rewards customers, you increase purchases. According to one study, customers made 30% more purchases and spent up to 45% more as a result of bonus programs.
We humans are trained from an early age to believe that rewards are a good thing and make us happy. This is triggered by the happiness messenger dopamine, which creates positive expectations and arouses desire. With dopamine in the blood, it is much easier to say yes. The desire to make a purchase is awakened. In other words, a reward system makes your customers feel good and creates an emotional bond with your company. It also adds an additional touchpoint to the customer experience.
Another major advantage of a customer loyalty program is the information that comes with it, which customers are willing to disclose. Because when customers see the benefits, they are happy to disclose information about themselves. And if you have the customer's date of birth, for example, you can send a special offer or even a small gift every year.
With exclusive offers, you show your customers that they are important to you and show them your appreciation. At the same time, you help customers to achieve the "goal" that is so important to them of benefiting (financially) from loyalty and faithfulness to the company.
Another factor for strong customer loyalty is to determine and increase satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is the subjective experience that customers have with your goods, product or service. If their expectations are met, they are satisfied. However, this is not enough for long-term loyalty. Nowadays, customers don't just want to be satisfied, they want to be delighted. Turn your customers into your fans!
Only your customers can tell you how satisfied they are and where you can improve. To do this, you should conduct regular surveys so that you can capture the mood of your customers and respond to it. Especially if you want to improve the quality and service of the product, it is important to keep getting feedback from your customers. In times of digitalization, it is also becoming easier and easier for customers to express their opinions. Take Google reviews, for example. Anyone can express their displeasure or approval here.
Take action yourself and get feedback from your customers. Don't wait for your customers to come to you with it. On the one hand, this shows appreciation and on the other hand, you can use it to further develop the company. Sample questions for obtaining customer opinions are listed below:
How did you like the purchase?
Were you satisfied with the quality of our service?
What could we do better?
What would you like to see in the future?
Make it as easy as possible to answer, for example with asterisks or points. And note: the best time to ask your customers for their opinion is directly after the purchase or business visit. Then thank your customers as soon as they have given you feedback - because it's not a given that your customers will take the time to do so. Also make sure that critical feedback is dealt with as soon as possible. You can turn dissatisfied customers back into satisfied customers by dealing with them promptly and appropriately.
You can also use it to improve reviews on external platforms. Some digital tools already offer automated feedback loops after a purchase and then redirect customers to external review platforms such as Google. If the tool is very sophisticated, it will of course only forward satisfied customers. This improves your rating and the number of reviews and makes you more attractive to new customers.
With these solutions, your customers can collect stamps, stickers or something similar and are rewarded for their loyalty at a certain point in time. The reward often takes the form of a discount or a gift. Insider tip: You can offer satisfied customers the opportunity to report on their positive experience on social media.
The disadvantage of this option is that you collect little to no customer data and therefore cannot communicate with your customers.
Loyalty cards often make customers feel honored; they feel like they belong to a privileged customer base. Incentives such as discounts or rewards motivate customers to remain loyal to your company. Physical customer cards can already be used to collect a lot of information about customers: Name, date of birth, purchasing behavior,... Compared to digital variants, the physical customer card has the disadvantage that it is unfortunately often forgotten at home (in addition to negative effects on the environment and nature due to plastic and paper waste). Customers usually only receive an overview of their points status directly when shopping and the company cannot communicate directly with regular customers.
In this age of digitalization, digital variants are clearly gaining ground.
The advantages: As a customer, I always have digital loyalty cards with me - because they are on my smartphone. Registration is usually quick and easy. In addition, I always have an overview of my points status and available rewards at all times. The clear advantage for companies lies in the data maintenance and targeted use of the data points collected. Compared to physical loyalty cards, a digital solution automatically stores information and allows you to communicate directly with your customers. In most cases, digital solutions also offer marketing automation, which in turn saves you time.
Even if a loyalty program seems like a high cost factor at first glance, a second look shows that it quickly pays for itself. Because if you increase your customer frequency through rewards, you will also increase your turnover in the long term.
A first step towards digitalization would be a regular newsletter, for example. Collect the email addresses of your regular customers so you can communicate with them at any time.
What are the difficulties with customer loyalty measures? The fact is, not every customer will respond to every measure. But it is the sum of the company's activities that makes the difference. So each person can choose what is most important to them.
Be creative with your measures. The tenth stamp card will no longer excite your customers. But maybe you can surprise them with a welcome drink before shopping or organize a game where customers can collect points. Digital solutions have a lot of potential here and can also be used quickly and flexibly.
There are no limits to your customer loyalty measures. Alternate between different measures and constantly try something new. You'll soon find out what your customers like best and how you can get them to tell their friends about it.
Through well-coordinated measures, you can build a lasting relationship with your customers and effectively bind your clientele to your brand. Your regular customers will become fans and brand ambassadors for your company, which means they will acquire new customers for you and will be happy to make their next purchase with you instead of the competition.
Investing in customer loyalty pays off: loyal customers are particularly valuable to you because they ...
... come back more often and buy more.
... actively recommend your company and your products to others.
... are more tolerant and forgive mistakes.
The best customer loyalty measures are therefore those that benefit customers the most and at the same time create advantages for you as a company!