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12 great ways to build customer loyalty

It can be five even six times more expensive to acquire a new customer. Keeping your customers happy and coming back to you is key to success. Marketing expert and CEO of Reality Marketing, Leonie Arnebark shares 12 proven ways to assure repeat business and help keep your customers loyal to you and your brand.

A successful company typically sees 80 percent of its business come from 20 percent of its customers. Add to this the fact that the cost of attracting new customers is significantly more than that of maintaining a relationship with existing ones, and you have a powerful incentive to keep that core group of customers happy. Yet too many businesses neglect this loyal customer base in pursuit of new customers. Loyalty can be defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance, you want your customers to share these feelings towards your business, brand and product or service offering.

See below 12 tips to assist in building customer loyalty:

1. Effective follow up

The secret to repeat business is following up in a way that has a positive effect on the customer. Effective follow up begins immediately, and involves the entire customer journey. Whether it be a personal call to the customer to say "thank you" and find out if he or she is pleased with your product or service, or a reminder that they are due for a check-up etc, proactively following up with each customer is key.

Dedicate time to creating and maintaining an accurate database of contact information. If there’s a social media element to your business, invite people to your page or website and keep that online element fresh. You can engage with your customers via communication channels that suit your business including enewsletters, targeted EDMs and more.

2. Get personal

Customers want to feel loved. Create a system that recognises when customers return and sends a message that makes them feel appreciated. Remember special occasions i.e. anniversary’s with you, birthday cards etc.-personalised cards work a treat, even mailed to their personal address. It can be a nice surprise to receive something in the mail other than bills!. You don't have to spend a fortune to show you care. Use your creativity to come up with interesting gift ideas and offers that tie into your business, the customer's business or his or her recent purchase.

3. Thank them and don’t take them for granted

It sounds simple and obvious, but many businesses forget to actually thank their customers for their business. A successful marketing strategy will bring customers through the door, but only a successful customer loyalty and retention plan will keep them coming back for more. Never take customer loyalty for granted.

4. Appoint and recognise ambassadors

Arnebark is a strong advocate of customer referral programs that allow current customers to invite friends to the loyalty club. This approach has proven to be most successful across industries. Make your loyalists real ambassadors by giving them power. Let them extend incentives and invites for unique experiences to their network, this will also keep you top of mind and will generate great word of mouth from your raving fans.

5. Provide outstanding customer service

Good customer service means going the extra mile to meet and exceed customer needs. Customers remember being treated well, and positive customer experiences result in repeat business. Pay attention to customer concerns and complaints and actually address and act on them. By letting you know when they’re dissatisfied, your customers give you a golden opportunity to resolve their issue and to improve your service fir the future.

6. Enable and encourage communication with customers

Facilitate a clear and accessible way for customers to communicate with you, whether it’s in person, by phone, or by email or a combination, and that you have someone assigned to customer service on an ongoing regular basis. Remember to maintain an upbeat and positive attitude toward your customers; the reputation of your business is at stake.

7. Focus on employee loyalty too

Loyalty starts at the top and works its way throughout the company. If you’re competent, you’ll earn your employees’ respect. If you have integrity in all of your dealings, your employees will be proud to work for and with you. If you’re consistent in your decisions and actions and display a willingness to communicate openly with your employees, you’ll earn their trust and respect. All of these qualities will build your employees’ loyalty to you and the business. And if you’re loyal to your employees, they’ll feel good about their jobs and genuinely pass that loyalty along to your customers.

8. Incentivise your customers

Customer incentives give people a reason to return to your business. They come in a variety of forms; buy two and get one free, frequent shopper points, rebates, adding a free service to the sale, gifts, and gift cards all offer enticement for people to choose your business when they decide to spend their hard-earned dollars.

Coordinate your incentive program with your marketing efforts and make sure the incentive is appropriate for your target audience. You can use the incentive program to boost business during slow seasons and to promote new products. Where appropriate give the incentive an expiry date to create a level of urgency i.e. a limited time offer.

9. Be flexible with policies

Each customer is an individual with unique circumstances and needs. Do everything within reason to solve customer problems or complaints. Don’t assume you understand the situation before you have heard the customers side of the story and make an effort to see things from their perspective. If you demonstrate to the customer that you’re listening and truly care about them and their situation, you have a better chance of retaining their business, even if you can’t fully solve the problem.

10. Understand what your customers want and need

By understanding what your customers actually want, you can build relationships that are memorable and set you apart from the competition. Focus on understanding each of your customers on an individual level and find out what really makes them tick, and why they like doing business with you.

11. Focus on integrity, which leads to trust and loyalty

Integrity involves fundamental behaviors such as keeping your word, being honest, providing a consistent level of service, and being reliable. Businesses that demonstrate a high degree of integrity are seen as being trustworthy. Building trust requires businesses to continually put customer’s interests ahead of their own. Customers will see this, and you will earn their trust and go a great distance to building customer loyalty.

12. Create remarkable experiences

A successful business is about more than just selling stuff. It’s about creating positive experiences that will keep them coming back for more, and telling their friends about.

Create wow factors within your business that make you remarkable and memorable and stand out from the crowd. This goes a long way to building customer loyalty.

It's tempting to concentrate on making new sales or pursuing bigger accounts. But attention to your existing customers, is essential to keeping your business thriving.

If you are looking to refine or develop your marketing plan, position or re-position your brand or need assistance with specific marketing tactics to help achieve lasting customer loyalty, please contact Reality Marketing, drop Leonie an email at

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