How to win customer loyalty in a competitive marketplace

Customer loyalty isn’t what it once was. Years ago, if you impressed a customer and they were pleased with your services, they’d return to you.

There were fewer competitors on the market, and fewer channels to find, research and purchase goods from alternative suppliers, that you stood a good chance of keeping that customer for the foreseeable future.

Today, however, customer loyalty is very different. Online shopping and the arrival of home-delivery giants like Amazon has given consumers a lot more choice, and means businesses have to work much harder to secure long-term patronage.

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, it’s vital retailers consider how they can rebuild relationships with customers and secure repeat business. Keep reading to find out more.

Introduce a loyalty card scheme

Loyalty card schemes are cheap and easy to run. 44% of customers keep between 2 to 4 loyalty cards in their purse, proving it’s a system plenty of customers are willing to take part in.

An effective way of implementing a loyalty scheme is using branded cards and a custom logo stamp. These can be kept by the till and used whenever a customer makes a purchase. 

There are lots of places to find stamps and print your cards online. But before making a purchase, it’s important to consider your business’ key values. Customers will keep your card in their wallet, and it should remind them of your brand and promote its key values every time they see it.

For example, if your business prides itself on its eco-friendly credentials, you should print on recycled material and highlight this somewhere on the card.

Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is an important aspect of modern business and is becoming increasingly important in the face of Generation Z’s entry into the marketplace.

The age of the internet and the democratisation of information online has made the flow of ideas easier than ever before. And as a result, modern audiences are becoming more aware of social justice issues. Climate change and sustainability, workplace equity and activism are becoming increasingly mainstream, and this has made the everyday consumer more socially conscious.

CSR hopes to leverage this to help businesses create a brand image that’s more attractive to modern audiences. 

Promoting the positive steps that your business has taken to be more sustainable or improve the local area are great examples of an effective CSR policy, but there are other, less expensive ways to implement a campaign.

One is to encourage your team to volunteer or host a charity event at work. This can improve staff morale and improve your business’ brand image. Promoting such events on social media also means consumers get to see the good you do and encourage them to do business with your company.

Set up a subscription service

The number of subscription-based businesses has grown exponentially in the past decade. Advances in automation and delivery have made subscription services more lucrative and can provide a regular source of income for your business while deterring customers from moving to your competitors.

Setting up a subscription service can be expensive, but such avenues are often necessary to secure long-term customer buy in. Offering discounts can incentivise customers to take the subscription route rather than make a one-off purchase. Highlighting the benefits of subscribing, such as simplicity and convenience, can also encourage customers to join.

Implement feedback

Poor customer service has been shown to drive away 23.5% of customers. This means not implementing an adequate complaints structure can result in losing almost a quarter of your potential customer base.

A good strategy is to respond not only to a customer’s feedback but show an interest in their suggestions. 97% of consumers said they would be more likely to become a loyal customer if a company actually implemented their feedback.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to change your business every day or implement every bit of feedback you receive. But it does mean showing an interest in your customers and their appraisals is important.

Look for any consistent requests when reading your reviews. Are there comments that keep coming up? If so, this could indicate there’s something that needs addressing. 

Showing you’ve listened to your customers and made a change can not only impress the customers who offered you the advice in the first place but make new customers more willing to hang around.

Photo by Cory Bouthillette