Customer trust and loyalty are essential for building a successful business. And while this may sound obvious, it’s hard to overstate the value of establishing a solid base of long-term customers.
As CX speaker Zig Ziglar once said: “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
When you consider that just a 5% increase in customer retention can boost your profits by as much as 95%, the rewards for gaining and maintaining customer trust are massive. A few extra seconds of effort is all it takes to make a customer’s day.
Beyond just retention, 83% of customers say they’d recommend a business they trust to others. This means that earning customer trust can not only help you keep your existing customers but can also help you earn new leads and sales through word of mouth.
It’s clear that building customer loyalty and trust is a worthy goal for any business. While it’s not something that can be done overnight, there are actionable steps to help pave the way towards this goal. That’s why in this post, we’ll go over nine strategies you can use to build long-term relationships with each of your customers.
Offer Excellent Customer Service
Publish Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Ask for feedback
Create a Loyalty Program
Be reachable to your potential customers
Always prioritize your customers
Take ownership of the problem
- Offer Excellent Customer Service
The level of customer service you provide has a significant impact on customer loyalty and retention. This means it’s essential to have dedicated support staff and set high standards for the speed and quality of your service.
As customers reach out with questions and issues, make sure to be consistent with your responses. Create a set of guidelines for your agents that outline appropriate answers for more common inquiries and ensure they have the right tools to find solutions to handle complex tickets. Ensure your agents treat your customers as humans requiring help and not merely customer tickets that get logged into your helpdesk. Your goal should be to offer an efficient, consistent service with a personal touch.
When you demonstrate exceptional customer service and commitment to your customer interests, it shows that your company cares enough about its customers to walk them through any issues they might be having with your product or service. It lets them know they are in good hands, and should they run into trouble, your support team will be there right there to help them during their customer journey.
Lastly, train your agents to deliver the information each customer needs, then take the time to make sure that the customer’s needs have been met. And if there’s an opportunity to go above and beyond — give agents the autonomy to take it because that’s the base for building trust with your customers.
- Publish Customer Reviews and Testimonials
According to Big Commerce, 72% of consumers say positive reviews and testimonials make them trust a brand more, and 88% trust online reviews and treat them as personal recommendations.
Reputation is everything in a company. Which business are you more likely to go for – the one with zero reviews or the one with hundreds of positive reviews? Exactly.
When your most enthusiastic brand advocates talk up your product or service on your behalf, it helps place your brand in a positive light. Consumers will almost always trust other consumers more than companies.
Customer testimonials and reviews demonstrate the value placed by customers in your products and service. There is no better marketing strategy than to position your brand as one favored by peers.
For example, if you run an e-commerce store, encourage your customers to leave reviews and add those reviews to product pages. If you run a service-based business, ask your current and past clients if they’d be willing to share their experiences with your company. Later, use their responses to create a testimonials page.
- Be transparent with customers
Retention can be difficult because customers have multiple options at their disposal. If and when something goes wrong with your product or service, they have the power to take their business elsewhere. You can maximize customer retention by maintaining customer loyalty — and one of the most robust ways to create a loyal customer is through transparency. It’s critical to be as straightforward as possible about what you have to offer and establish accurate customer expectations from the start.
Essentially, every customer should know what to expect before signing a contract or placing an order. And while sharing certain pieces of information may dissuade a lead or two from converting, that’s okay. When it comes down to it, make sure you provide timely updates on tickets and offer excellent customer service reinforced by rock-solid SLAs.
- Ask for Feedback
Customer feedback is essential to guide businesses in decision-making and influence innovations and changes to products or services. It also helps measure customer satisfaction among current customers and brings desired results. If you do not determine what your customers think about your product or service, it will be difficult to forecast the long-term success of your business. Their views on your brand serve as helpful information that you can use to adjust your business to fit their needs accurately.
Customers want to know that their brands care about their opinions and needs. And the best way to show that you do is to ask for feedback and input regularly. Send customer feedback surveys periodically and ask your customers to share their opinions. Have your products and services lived up to their expectations? Are they able to get the support they need when they have questions? Are they satisfied with their overall experience with your company?
Most importantly, your surveys should include an area where customers can provide suggestions for what you could be doing better. Then, as you review the responses, look for opportunities to improve. When you use feedback to make fundamental changes, you not only show your customers that you value their input but can also make the kind of adjustments that have a positive impact on your entire customer base.
- Create a Loyalty Program
76% of North American consumers say they’re more likely to choose retailers that offer loyalty programs.
Customer loyalty programs drive sales and increase customer lifetime value. On the most basic level, it is done through incentives – a loyalty program helps businesses build emotional commitment through repeat and reward behavior. However, an innovative approach to offers made creates more impact. E.g., offering third-party promotions ( cinemas, spas, stays, and retailer coupons) creates a community and ‘lifestyle’ perception that will emotionally connect customers to your brand. If you can combine this with personalization, the impact is better and more prominent.
E-commerce retailers, for example, often offer free bonus items to frequent shoppers, along with early access to specific sales and promotions. B2B companies, on the other hand, can offer perks like exclusive content and invitations to webinars and in-person events. Regardless of the exact approach you take, the goal is to make it more advantageous for your customers to continue buying from you rather than to test out other options.
- Be available on the right channels
Instant customer service is the backbone for providing a great customer experience and building long-term relationships, whether over the phone, live chat, or social media. Your customers need the confidence that you can be depended on.
Did you know?
75% of customers desire a consistent experience, regardless of how they engage a company (through social media, in person, by phone, etc.)
They must have their queries answered quickly and their problems resolved with minimal effort. And although there will likely always be a need for answering services that let callers leave voicemails, businesses must put in their best efforts to resolve customer queries at the first point of contact. Also, depending on the industry, business size, and customer preferences, companies must choose channels to focus on. They must find the balance between the holy trinity: Self-service versus messaging versus phone. Most importantly, all information coming in from these channels needs to be seen in an omnichannel view by support agents, so there is less back and forth between agents and customers.
- Always put your customers first
When it comes down to it, your ability to earn customer trust depends on your ability to give your customers what they want. And one of the best ways to do this is to build a company-wide customer-centrist culture. Within some companies, the only employees that focus on customer needs are customer service and support staff. And this is far from ideal.
Instead, encourage all employees to think about your customers and how they can positively impact those customers in their role. This focus makes building trust much more straightforward — because when your products and services reflect an emphasis on customer needs, it’s not hard to convince your audience that you care.
- Cultivate relationships
Building customer relationships is important and influential because they boost sales, decrease customer attrition, provide invaluable marketing, and grow employee morale. When you regard yourself in a long-term relationship with your customers, all types of positive results ensue. The customer knows they’re more than just an avenue to profits.
This high-touch strategy may seem expensive initially, but you’re likely to make that money back due to building genuine relationships with your customers. When you know your customers, you can make rational business decisions and cultivate your relationships with them. No matter the sophisticated technology you use to communicate, it’s important to understand that your customers are human and appreciate being recognized, listened to, and understood.
- Take ownership of the problem
Taking ownership doesn’t imply accepting blame or personally fixing the problem. Taking ownership means accepting responsibility and ensuring the customer’s problem gets solved.
Next, businesses must learn what is going on behind the scenes before it becomes an issue and their customers start to nitpick. Hearing directly from customers can help customer success teams paint a picture, thus reducing the dependency on logged tickets notes alone.
Finally—training agents to manage customers’ expectations and provide timely assurances plays a considerable role. You need to ensure your customers get a consistently positive experience and constructively remind your customer service agents of areas for improvement with new opportunities.
Trust and loyalty are the building blocks of a solid customer base. And earning customer trust doesn’t require any complex strategy. The best step you can take is to offer excellent customer service and ensure that your support team knows the importance of their roles.
Essentially, the goal is to put your customers first and to make sure that those customers know they’re your top priority. When you accomplish this goal, you can be confident that customer trust and loyalty will follow closely.
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