brand loyaltyIn 2018, it is easier than ever to compare prices for the same product or service across different brands.

Discounts are the name of the game, but what about brand loyalty?

With today’s budget-obsessed mindset, a good deal can push even the most brand loyal customer over to a competitor.

The biggest concern for your potential customers is getting the best value for the money.

The market makes one thing abundantly clear—in an era where customers swing from brand to brand in search of what’s cheapest, the brand rising above competitors and inspiring customer loyalty will be most successful.

We’ll explore basic principles and the do’s and don’ts when striving to create brand loyalty among your customers.

Brand Loyalty Do: Provide Exemplary Customer Service

A primary reason why customers develop relationships with brands is exemplary customer service.

Customer service reps are usually the only human contact point with the brand for the majority of the clientele.

Customers judge the worth of your brand based on those interactions.

In 2011, for example, 86 percent of customers decided to stop doing business with a brand due to poor customer service.

When customer service goes above and beyond to cater to customer needs, they sense and appreciate the effort.

Take Apple, for instance; customers will pay a premium for iPhones and MacBooks because their customer service is unrivaled in the industry.

Apple has a generous warranty and return policy, and very rapid response times, making the process almost painless.

Brand Loyalty Do: Under-promise and Over-deliver

The old proverb “lower your expectations, and you’ll never be disappointed” is the driving force behind the under-promise and over-deliver strategy.

If customers making purchases from your brand expect only an average level of quality, you can blow their expectations out of their water by delivering a high-quality product with above average customer service.

Conversely, if you over-promise and set customer expectations too high, even if you overdeliver, your customers will still only be just satisfied—not as thrilled as the customers who expected less.

Brand Loyalty Do: Reward Your Best Customers Personally

Your highest value customers—those who buy most often—are the ones you have the best chance of inspiring a sense of brand loyalty.

You’ve already proven yourself regarding the quality of your product; after all, they wouldn’t buy so much if it was not meeting or exceeding their expectations.

Identify your best customers (highest value and easiest to deal with) and reward them personally.

A handwritten note, along with a gift (such as free store credit, an upgraded service, or priority access to customer service) will make your customer feel special and valued by your brand.

The effect of this reward is twofold: your best customers will continue purchasing your brand, AND they will boast to their friends and family about the gift they received from you, attracting new customers by word-of-mouth.

Brand Loyalty Don’t: Be a Faceless Entity

One of the best ways to build real relationships with customers is to be personable.

Don’t be another faceless entity masked by the anonymity of the internet.

Introduce company founders and key personnel to your audience through blog posts, videos, or an ‘About’ page on your website.

When customers feel as if they’re purchasing from a person, rather than a website, they develop an affinity to that specific person or group of people.

Thus, it becomes emotionally more difficult to leave a known group of people and switch to a different brand just to save a couple of dollars.

Another way to connect with customers on a personal level is by offering customer service on social media.

Within this kind of service, representatives use personal Twitter accounts to respond to customer complaints and comments.

Using social media this way enables customers to experience a human-to-human connection, making them feel they are talking to a real person, not a corporation.

Of course, the external nature of this system opens up the potential for abuse and misrepresentation of your brand.

However, you can prevent this by establishing a strong set of guidelines and social media policy for your representatives to follow.

Brand Loyalty Don’t: Ignore Your Customers

Customer feedback is one of the most valuable development tools.

Listen to what your clientele tells you about your product.

And then use that feedback to test drive changes they’re requesting in a new product version.

For some businesses, making direct changes based on individual customers’ feedback simply isn’t feasible.

If that’s the case for your company, you can still employ this strategy by ensuring your customers know you hear them.

Reassure those who send feedback with a personal reply, letting them know you take their suggestions seriously and will review.

The basic idea here is to listen to what your customers tell you and provide avenues for sending feedback (surveys, dedicated feedback emails, onsite review options, etc.).

Once customers see you are implementing ideas they suggest, they understand and appreciate you’re paying attention to them.

They’ll now be far less likely to switch to another brand that hasn’t achieved that level of familiarity.

Brand Loyalty Don’t: Sacrifice Quality

At the end of the day, brand loyalty only goes so far.

Once you convert a lead into a customer, you must ensure they remain satisfied with the quality of products or services they receive from you.

Not even the most loyal customers will stick with a brand that begins to churn out a shoddy product.

As your business continues to grow, keep in mind it should never do so at the cost of quality.

Keep surpassing customer expectations, and they will remain loyal to your brand.

Two Main Components to Creating Brand Loyalty

To summarize, there are two main components to creating brand loyalty:

  1. Help your customers appreciate your brand.
  2. Let your customers know your brand appreciates them.

The first part is the hard part.

To develop your brand’s worth in the eyes of the customer, you must consistently provide a high-quality product and unrivaled customer service. This means surpassing their every expectation.

The second part is simple.

Connect with your customers on a personal level. Reveal the faces of the people behind your brand, reward your best customers, and listen to them.

Follow these tips and inspire a sense of brand loyalty which prevents rivals from stealing your customer base.

Ryan Gould

Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, a B2B marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement, and conversion.

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