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Consumer loyalty is the key to growth

31 December 2013 | Sales Growth

Consumer loyalty is one of the key factors driving business growth and competitiveness. Yet few firms have a clear strategy for nurturing customers and making it work for them.

Online marketing company Constant Contact surveyed more than 850 SMEs to determine the biggest factors that contribute to their ongoing success.

A whopping 82 per cent of respondents agreed that loyal customers were the number one driver behind business growth, with most new customers the result of referrals. Other important factors in business growth include marketing activities and a strong economy.

“Creating meaningful customer engagement, from attracting new customers to keeping loyal ones happy, remains a top priority,” explained CEO Gail Goodman.

There’s no denying that fostering customer loyalty is essential to driving growth and gaining a valuable leg up on your competition.

So how can you improve the loyalty of your customers and benefit from it?

  • Step one: Decide your objective
    Do you want to improve your customer satisfaction levels, increase purchasing frequency, widen the product purchase mix or generate a number of referrals? Target something specific and don’t try to do everything at once.
  • Step two: Create a customer success map
    To succeed you must know your starting point and destination. That means measurement prior to starting and throughout the campaign. For example, do you know how many new customers you have and how they found you? If you don’t know, can you survey them?
    Document what course of action to take to reach your destination and have some alternative routes planned if needed. Once that journey is successfully completed, start another.
  • Step three: Focus your physical and digital systems
    Physical systems include your staff and how they interact with customers.
    Developing scripts and clear rules of engagement (for example – how to address customer concerns, how to achieve higher-value sales by up-selling and cross-selling, when and how to ask a customer for a reference or a referral) are critical to achieving your objectives.

Digital systems include the implementation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to store, manage and share customer details. With this information, every employee who interacts with a current or potential customer can easily access a comprehensive record of that customer’s history.

Effective CRM systems should also connect purchasing data with email marketing campaigns. This helps when communicating targeted offers such as referral programs or rewarding loyalty through ‘gold-customer only’ promotions. Loyalty systems can be integrated with CRM for businesses with more advanced requirements. Advanced sales analysis can assist with measuring and identifying new opportunities with loyal customers.

Most businesses are aware that customer loyalty is the key to success, but successful businesses know how to harness the power of customer loyalty and use it to their advantage.

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