I have been speaking recently at conferences in a range of industries – including financial planning, corporate travel, insurance underwriting, banking, and healthcare. As part of our presentation briefing, I always ask my client about the biggest source of income in their business or industry, and the answer is almost always “repeat and referral business”.
I also ask them about the biggest challenges facing their business or industry, and invariably the answer is “Getting and keeping customers”.
But “getting” and “keeping” are two entirely different things! And if the biggest source of income is from repeat and referral business, then “keeping” is far more important than “getting”.
So how do you keep your customers and clients?
It’s not surprising that keeping customers is a challenge, because customers have so many more options now. Even if you have been a preferred supplier in the past, that doesn’t mean they will continue to give you business in the future. If you want to continue to get business from your customers, you have to continue building your relationship with them – long after the first sale.
This is not just about providing a great experience once – because they will soon forget that experience.
It’s not just about having the best product or service – because somebody else will do it better.
And it’s not about continually promoting to them – because that makes you an unwelcome pest.
It’s about continuing to deliver value in the way they want it.
This is true customer loyalty: Customers remain attracted to you and your business (not just your products or services).
Here are four ways to keep delivering value in order to build loyalty.
1. Offer personal access to you (and your business).
Give customers a way to contact you directly for personal support, insights, education, and more (like Apple does with their Genius Bar).
This is the most expensive option, because you’re providing individual access. So you might only offer it to your best customers and clients. On the other hand, you might consider it so valuable that (like Apple) you offer it to all customers, because you know it creates huge brand loyalty.
2. Offer group access to you.
Give customers access to you, but in a group setting. For example, I know a financial planning business that offers a free quarterly “market intelligence” webinar, but available only to their clients. And retail stores like OfficeWorks and Bunnings offer free training sessions for customers.
This is more affordable than personal access, but still valuable because you’re providing access to your expertise and knowledge.
3. Send personal gifts.
You don’t provide access to you, but you do provide something personal on a regular basis – for example, a book you know they might like or a handwritten postcard to congratulate them on something you noticed on Facebook. You could even just send them a link to an interesting article or Web site.
This is not as valuable as providing access to you, but it does show you’ve been thinking about them.
4. Send group gifts.
You still send loyalty gifts, but everybody gets the same thing. For example, American Express recently sent me a $25 gift voucher for being a loyal credit card merchant.
You don’t have to give money, of course. Your gifts can be physical (for example, a copy of your book, or a card on their birthday, a printed newsletter) or digital (a private client e-mail newsletter, smartphone app, or access to online resources).
This is the easiest option to automate and delegate, because it just needs a mailing list, a collection of gifts, and a calendar to schedule them. But it’s still more than what most businesses do!
Which of these could YOU do?
Some of these are easy to do, and others take a bit more work and money.
You might choose a range of options, and offer different options to different groups of people (for example, only your “Platinum Frequent Flyers” might get personal access).
Whatever you choose, choose something. In this highly-competitive world, it’s more important than ever before to build loyal long-term relationships that create repeat, referral and renewal business.
Webinar Thursday 27th October: Build a Mobile App In One Hour
One of the most powerful loyalty-building tools – if you can do it right – is a smartphone app. Internet users spend more time on their smartphone apps than on Web sites – a lot more time. So it’s not surprising that many businesses want to have prime place in their customer’s mind by building a great app.
Early apps weren’t very sophisticated. When I first ran a training webinar about building an iPhone app (way back in 2010!), the technology was clunky and limited, and it took a lot of work to create a great app.
But things have changed a lot now, and you can create a highly functional app for your business in a few hours.
Come to this webinar and I’ll show you how to create an app yourself – right in front of your eyes. Yes, it is possible to build an app in an hour now!