Holding onto existing customers is more important than ever.
Too many organisations prioritise acquiring new business from new sources when much of the real value can be found right in front of them – it just needs to be nurtured in the right way. A focus on building loyalty within the existing customer base will create brand advocates organically and, ultimately, stimulate growth.
Brand advocacy is not an overnight process. Rather, it is a relentless, consistent and long-term approach to delivering the best customer experience possible. Every touch point that the customer has with a business (and vice versa) needs to be best-in-class: richly personalised and highly efficient. This means having a ‘customer-pull’ culture driving organisations’ operating models.
Here are five simple steps to foster this ethos:
- Get social: we know that social media’s power cannot be underestimated. It is a unique contemporary market research tool and the opportunities that it presents for organisations to engage in direct, real-time conversation with vast segments of their customer base are unprecedented. Leveraging social listening technologies means companies can understand their customers’ needs and wants now and respond accordingly – building satisfaction and loyalty in the process.
- Provide exceptional customer service: it’s all very well having good customer service – but that has now become the benchmark: ‘good’ is the new expectation. To differentiate, companies need to provide a stand-out service that over-delivers, goes beyond expectations and ultimately makes a marked impression on the customer. Customers shouldn’t merely endure the service businesses provide, they should enjoy it. That way, they’ll come back again and again, bringing new customers with them in the process.
- Engage in constant communication and dialogue: using whatever means and channels are most relevant, organisations need to ensure a system is in place for reaching out to existing customer base – and that doesn’t just mean blanket marketing messages. By engaging in a personalised dialogue with customers, they will move from being passive consumers to active participants in an organisation’s brand. This participation will quickly mature into advocacy.
- Offer relevant customer incentives and rewards: having started their formal journey in the airline industry, loyalty programmes have, er, taken off – from coffee outlets to supermarkets, high-street banks to fashion retailers, we are now bombarded with them every day. Through the clutter, it can be hard for organisations to stand out. The key to do so is offering incentives and rewards that are relevant to the customer on an individual level. Simply, care about each and every customer, give them what they want, and they will stay!
- Utilise big data: understanding data underpins all of this. By leveraging data analytics and predictive modelling techniques, patterns can be scientifically analysed, behaviours can be anticipated, and potential lapsers within customer bases can be identified – and targeted with tailored retention campaigns. The main idea here is around being proactive, rather than reactive: understand the customer better than they understand themselves!
Ultimately, loyal customers are a profitable breed: their willingness to pay price premiums, combined with the potential cost savings that they generate, creates a very attractive proposition indeed. It’s time for organisations to drive that proposition and shift the focus of their operations to consolidation and retention – this means knowing your customer inside out and putting them at the heart of your business.
About the Author: Jack Samler is an Analyst in Deloitte’s Customer Consulting practice. His industry focus is the private sector, with experience that includes work in television production, broadcasting, media asset management and online gaming.
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