The Entrepreneur: Developing Brand Loyalty - Providing Beyond The Transactional
The importance of building brand loyalty should not be something overlooked by entrepreneurs. Loyalty in this respect can be defined and measured both in terms of customer buying behaviour, and empathy towards brand. The desired outcome will be for the emotional connection established between consumer and brand to lead to repeat business, and the reaffirmation of relationships. Existing clients can also become fantastic advocates for your brand, and help reach new prospects that would have otherwise never appeared on the radar.
In order to build these relationships, it is important to make sure you are adhering to the following:
- be consistent, reliable and deliver on promises
- focus on delivery for customers
- offering insightful services based on buyer preferences
- create a feeling the right purchase has been made
- make sure you offer great communication and customer service
Consumers who are digitally engaged with a brand are more likely to harbour positive feelings towards a brand. Digital channels not only allow you to circulate secure offers to loyal groups (i.e. to Facebook/Twitter followers, Mobile App downloaders, etc.), but also allows for an instant personal response. A personal touch will help establish rapport, demonstrating how the issues of the customer are important to you as a business, and allowing you to address potential brand damaging complaints into an example of how you value the customer.
Examples of other techniques in the market place
A common example of something extra many organisations implement is the use of loyalty cards, from local hairdressers to giant supermarket chains. These are very effective across a wide range of industries, and the concept can even be incorporated in B2B relationships (e.g. if you make 5 successful referrals, you will receive a cash bonus of £500 or 5 theatre tickets). It's all about adding value, and giving another reason to choose you over the competition.
Another emerging example is to be part of a cashback scheme. These simply offer a percentage of money back directly into a customer's account at the end of the month relative to what they spend with selected organisations. Although they can be slightly more complicated to set up, they allow customers to see the benefit of choosing your brand in a very clear and measurable manner.
Another area that can help build a relationship with customers is how your brand conducts itself outside of your core service and who you choose to associate with. Don't be shy! People love to be reassured the brand they have chosen to work with or buy from cares about the planet and the community, if you're company is doing something positive, let your customers know!
The DO NOTs
Here are some points to consider if you wish to minimise the chances of any harm coming to your customer retention figures, and your brand's reputation:
- DO NOT fail to listen to and understand what your customers want
- DO NOT ignore technology
- DO NOT ignore the actions of your competitors
- DO NOT forget to add value
- DO NOT forget how privacy and data protection are also very important
- DO NOT fail to ensure any secondary organisation you bring in has a record of success
- DO NOT reward disloyal customers
- DO NOT nit-pick when it comes to resolving grievances
There are many approaches you can take towards establishing brand relationships, and they will be affected by sector, competitor actions, and the main communication routes available. For example, if a growing number of your competitors are offering customer service contact points on Twitter, this may now be an expectation of your target market and therefore something you need to consider implementing, although not as extra service to add value, but as the new industry standard. After all, anything a competitor is offering that you are not is potentially a reason to choose their company over yours!
For more information on the topic outlined in this article, please contact Chris.Pipe@rm2.co.uk or call the office directly on 020 8949 5522.