Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
How do you grow your business? A traditional marketer would say – increase your market share or increase wallet share from your existing customers. On the other hand, a modern marketer would say – develop customer loyalty, which will automatically produce increase in market share and wallet share.
In the era of internet and smart phone apps, the consumption pattern is increasingly becoming, what most Indian marketers would call, Rural. That actually means that customers are becoming more connected and reliant on word of mouth: the good and the bad of a brand goes around more quickly than we anticipate; heterogeneous: customers love personalisation and customised solution that exactly fits their needs and the purchase doesn’t happen unless customers see an essential value in it. It is said that a loyal customer would bring revenues, on average, worth 10 times his initial purchase. Now, who wouldn’t want that!?
So, here’s bringing the 7 ultimate cheat-codes to crack that code of customer loyalty:
1. What does your customer want?
Learn everything about your customer, by everything we mean EVERYTHING. Where they live, What they do, What they eat, What they drive, their birthdays, birthdays of their special ones, their pets’ names, everything. Then build your buyer persona, understand their needs, what they value most and customise your offering accordingly. One of the best examples comes from Rural India: Boond, a social venture established by Rustum Sengupta, an INSEAD Alumnus. Boond is providing energy solutions for people who have no access to it in remote areas. Look at their tailor made solutions for their customers. Such detailed profiling and tailor made solutions can help a brands be relevant to all its target audience. It also helps brands anticipate the needs of its customers even before the customers are aware of it.
2. Empower your employees
This is way way powerful than we anticipate. To be customer centric an organisation must empathise with its customers and respond to their concerns at the earliest. Who better to do this than your employees, who are already in touch with your customers. Give employees the necessary resources they need to deliver a great customer experience. Make sure that the nature of an employee’s work is in line with his skills. Give them the freedom to take their own decisions. There are few things that bring more happiness to an employee than the freedom to do a task the way they envision it. Yes, people will make a few mistakes, and it might look like a huge cost at the start, but if this helps you build customer loyalty, isn’t the investment worth it?
If you look at other customer centric companies, almost every organisation follows a Loose-Tight organisational design. They are very tight on operations to deliver products on time, while on the other hand they are loose on operations for customer service. Employees are given the freedom to take action with a simple end goal in mind: make your customers happy. Look at how this Amazon customer care rep has created an amazing experience:
3. Share your values
Customers associate with the values shared by the company not its products. A recent HBR study states that of the customers who are loyal to a particular brand 64% of them are because of what the company stands for. Every company hopes that its customers have an emotional connection with it and if the values you stand for matches with that of a customer, then you have a customer for life. So go ahead and share your values with the customers, let them know what you stand for. Here’s an example: Hindustan Unilever (Unilever’s India subsidiary) launched a “Help a child reach 5” campaign for their product Lifebuoy soap. Through this campaign, Unilever promoted how regularly washing hands with Lifebuoy soap can help safeguard children from contagious diseases – a major cause of rural child mortality in India. They came out and shared what they truly stand for and believe in, and surely won a lot of hearts. Here’s one of the ads from their campaign:
4. Create your cult
One of my tech-savvy friends is a walking Apple (the brand) advertisement. I asked him what is so special about Apple, and his answer – “Because its Apple, duh!”
Look at the brand wars over the years, ultimately the brand that wins this war is the one for which its customers are willing to fight the battle. Therefore focussing on building a fan-base for your brand is important. These customers talk about you, promote you, and fight for you. Invest in developing your own identity, give your customers reasons to be associated with you, make your customers feel proud to be associated with you. It is not easy to achieve, but with the right customer focus and by staying true to what you stand for you can sure build a strong cult around your brand. Apple did this wonderfully in their Macintosh campaign:
Want to learn how to create a loyal customer fan-base? Find out here: How do you turn Customers into Fans?
5. Use technology to know your customers better
Needless to say that your customer base will only grow over time and a CRM software is the best way to be in control. The idea of having a functioning CRM is to have information about the customers ready and not gather it from them every time they interact with you! When your customers reach out to you with a problem regarding your product or the service, they expect to be enquired about the problem and not about their identity or whereabouts. Use the information gathered in your CRM to effectively communicate with your customers.
When every customer influences a company differently, it is essential that they are attended to, accordingly. A customer brings with him, his own character and approach. These should be documented in the historical records of each customer in your CRM, which acts as a reference point for that customer and hence helps personalise the interaction. Profiling customers according to their location, past transaction and purchase helps the company establish a long term relationship with each of its customers. Interestingly, many company lose out on consistently good customer experience and wonder why. One of the reasons is that most sectors have no knowledge of its customers. Though company functions are divided into departments to give due importance to every aspect of business, it fails to stand as one organisation in knowing a customer. Integrating your CRM with other parts of your organisation, such as support and customer service will save you from getting stuck in data silos. Don’t let marketing or sales block others out of the goldmine of information stored in your CRM software. The customers don’t care which department you work for. They see you as one brand. CRM provides a single window mechanism so that customers need not run from pillar to post.
6. Take feedback
Let’s stop our obsession with customer engagement and start focussing on customer feedback. Companies misunderstand customer engagement with sending them regular messages about their products, offers and what not. Nobody is interested in your products or offers. Customers are only interested in things that add value to them. And how do you know what your customer wants and feels about your brand: through FEEDBACK. Take feedback and act on it. Learn what you can do better next time to not repeat the experience. If a customer is happy know why and strive to bring the same experience to every customer. Engagement doesn’t help you grow, Feedback does.
7. Stay in touch
In an era of impersonal messages on Facebook walls for birthdays, don’t you think your customer would love a personal handwritten note on his birthday? This might be difficult to do for all the customers but do it for at least your key accounts. Wish them on their birthdays and special occasions, send them regular newsletters, let them know what’s happening at your company, and thank your customers for their business. Read this amazingly shocking customer experience story on how TD Bank thanks its customers.
The phrase “It’s a small world”, cannot be more true than in this age. Gone are the days where celebrity endorsements can give you huge market share. In this connected era, your customers are your real celebrities, so treat them like one. Know more about them, give exactly what they need, woo them with gifts on their special days and win them for life. Customer loyalty is undoubtedly the new era of marketing, mastering it is the key to winning in today’s biz world.