A startup, a new emerging business model aiming to reach great heights in the marketplace with respect to any particular product or service, needs to create and retain customers. For any startup to succeed, what matters most is loyal customers. A loyal customer is one who enjoys the relationship with the company and loves its products and services. He not only uses the products himself but also recommends them to his family and friends.
As Heather Williams, the American singer-songwriter, said,
Revolve your world around the customers and more customers will revolve around you.
Building customer loyalty is a worthy investment for every startup. New business success is highly dependent on the satisfied and happy customer.
Let’s discuss the example of Apple Inc. Most of the Apple customers are absolutely in love with its products. They show loyalty towards its several products such as MacBook, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. These customers have a deeply held commitment to re-buy and re-patronize Apple products and services consistently in the future, against all odds, and at all costs despite strong marketing efforts of competitors. If every startup is looking to be an Apple Inc. in future, it must do things differently.
Below are a few steps that every startup needs to take care of for building customer loyalty:
Providing an enhanced customer experience
For startups, it is very important to offer courteous, helpful, and willingly customer experience to strengthen the bond with the customer. Good customer experience is the top priority for every business owners and it is the biggest marketing strategy for all businesses. Recent consumer data from a Peppers & Rogers study showcases that 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering an excellent customer experience are outperforming their competition.
When organizations take care of their customers, the delighted customers, in turn, allow their business to bloom.
Maintaining a robust connection
Apart from acquiring new customers, startups need to focus on building robust relationships with existing ones. Maintaining a healthy and frequent connection with the customers through emails, reminders, or messages is most important for any business. Sending birthday/anniversary emails or giving discounts during those periods will make the customer feel valued. Sending personalized announcements about business developments and new products update is a must for building customer support. Connecting with the customers on a personal level is crucial for growing business as it builds credibility, confidence, and trust.
With the influx of social media, startups connect and interact with their customers on a more personal level.
Giving out loyalty rewards and benefits
Rewarding the regular customers with some extra discounts, gifts or exclusive offers is the best idea to keep them stick around. It also promotes business by encouraging other customers to try to meet that status. Companies must design their loyalty programs in a manner to offer differentiated products and services to customers based on their purchasing patterns and profitability.
For instance, when Dropbox – one of the most sought-after cloud storage providers – started off, it offered free storage space for its users if they referred their friends and family. Now, this created a win-win situation for both, Dropbox as well as its customers.
Collecting consistent feedback
The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.
~ Zig Ziglar
Customer reviews go hand in hand with customer loyalty. Gathering, engaging with, and drawing actionable insights from, and appropriately working on customer feedback is the key to the customer retention for any startup. Making an effort to collect feedback and responding to it is a great way to create strong relationships with customers.
Instagram is one of those wonderful products that understood the pulse of the customer early on by collecting feedback and working on it. Instagram originally started off as Burbn, an app that would help users to make future plans with friends, check-in to locations, post pictures of those meetups, and earn points for the same. However, on checking the customer usage of the app, the founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger realized that their customers massively used the photo sharing feature but hardly used the others. They used this to scrape off all the other features and focus primarily on the photo sharing feature. This gave birth to Instagram as we know it today!
Startups can earn a customer’s trust by creating a consistent and seamless experience every time and across all channels. Being consistent with the quality of products and services is the best way to manage customers loyalty. On the other hand, over promising and under delivering is an easy way to lose credibility.
In this era of cut-throat competition, where customers can deflect easily, building loyalty among the existing customer base is more important than ever before. What else can startups do to improve loyalty? Do let us know.
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