How to reward customer loyalty
I had the honour of speaking at an event last week. Not quite my typical event; this was for Farmers Weekly and the attendees were all farmers diversifying or looking to diversify into other businesses, such as hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses. Anything from farm visits with a visitor centre cafe, to online retail of farm produce to bed and breakfasts and camp sites. I learnt so much about the practical considerations for diversifying.
This was in the Lake District and waking up to the view of the snow capped mountains behind Lake Windermere was beautiful. I have to say, this must be the first time I have presented from a farmers’ auction ring!
As we know, it’s always easier and more cost effective to get more business from an existing customer than to get business from a new customer. My talk focused on some of the pitfalls which leave customers feeling they’ve had a mediocre experience, and having nothing much to compel them to come back again or recommend a venue or business to others.
One of these pitfalls is leaving customers feeling unappreciated.
This is the number 1 reason customers give for switching to a competitor. Too many businesses only reward new customers in a bid to attract new business, but fail to do anything – or at best very little – to reward the loyalty of existing customers.
How does this make you feel when you are the customer and see offers only applicable to first time customers?
Here are 7 ideas to overcome this potential pitfall, by giving customers recognition and reward customer loyalty to make them feel special…
1. Say thank you
Do something or send something that shows you appreciate their custom. As a minimum this might be a simple but sincere verbal thank you, or a follow up thank you email (observing any GDPR guidelines naturally). There may be times when you’ve welcomed guests or friends of your existing customers, maybe as part of a party. So, thank both the existing customer and the new customer who’s visited you for the first time.
2. Ask for feedback
A follow up thank you is also a second opportunity to get feedback too. Ask them about their experience. Did it meet or exceed their expectations? Ask for specifics such as what they enjoyed most and any ideas, comments or suggestions they have to make the experience even better. If they’ve previously given feedback, it’s an opportunity to let them know what you’ve done as a result, helping to re-establish trust.
3. Snail Mail
A simple personalised thank you note will not only show your appreciation, but it will give them something to remember you by. There’s nothing quite like something sent by good old-fashioned snail mail. Even better, if it’s personalised and handwritten on a hand-picked greetings card.
Some think in this web-based age this is out-dated; how would your customers react to receiving something personal in the post, rather than clogging up their email inbox?
4. Rewarding loyalty
Perhaps you want to do a little bit more for your special or regular customers to reward customer loyalty; those that have been your perfect customers and you’d like to see a lot more of (and the chances are they’ll know lots of other people just like themselves, who they might be inclined to tell about you), the organisers of events, anyone who has made referrals that’s brought you extra business over the year, for giving you a glowing testimonial or review, or simply because they put their trust and faith in you to deliver something extraordinary for a special occasion.
Something that’s exclusive, not available to the masses makes people feel special and valued. It could be a simple token memento, or an exclusive offer, or useful information or tips that’s relevant to your business and customers’ interests. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive; it’s the thought that’s gone into it that counts.
Never under estimate the impact when you remember someone’s name or their personal preferences. Do they have any particular likes and dislikes, what is their favourite product, brand, or combinations, do they have any particular requirements?
Do you know any of the personal circumstances that may be relevant to offer something special e.g. their birthday or any special anniversaries, kids’ names and ages, key things happening in their world?
Remembering such details will always be appreciated. Record their personal details and any special requirements so whoever is on duty the welcome your customer receives is consistent.
However, personalisation is not a means of selling or marketing products or services that they do not want or need, but showing you’ve listened and care about them as individuals. It’s about helping them make choices that will delight and enhance their experience with your venue or business. Showing you know and understand them will always be appreciated and increase loyalty and add lifetime value.
Mark key milestones in your relationship: thank them when they’ve been with you for a year, or on subsequent anniversaries, when they’ve concluded a big event, when you’ve worked with them on a big project or programme or when they’ve just upgraded to a particular level of service.
The law of reciprocity means that if you give something to your loyal customers you are setting the stage for them to do something for you in return. Whether this is repeat business, a referral or maybe a testimonial, any one of these will add benefit to your business. So, the more you can do to show your appreciation the greater the chance of staying on their radar and of them remaining loyal to you.
If you only do one thing to reward customer loyalty:
Introduce the concept of GLUE. Watch here for an explanation: https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU or go to an earlier post here https://www.naturallyloyal.com/give-little-unexpected-extras-to-enhance-the-customer-experience/
Today’s top tip
This Friday (6th March) is Employee Appreciation Day. So as well as showing you appreciate your customers, do something to show you appreciate your team, even if it’s just a simple heartfelt thank you.
One way to show you appreciate them and care about them is to ask for anonymous feedback.
Here is the perfect platform to do just that.