When it comes to buying products online, customers have more options than ever before. There are businesses serving every niche and there are also ecommerce giants like Amazon that essentially offer a catch-all solution. As a result, many business owners are asking themselves how to build more customer loyalty with a brand agnostic audience.
In order to achieve this end goal, it is necessary to adopt a customer-centric approach. We must think like our customers and determine what it is they’re looking for -- in terms of product, experience, service, support, incentives and more.
Here are four tips on how to build customer loyalty.
1. Expressing value in the product.
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Let’s start with the basics. Your customer is coming to your website because they want to buy a product from you. The transaction can happen more or less on autopilot if you provide them with the right information and they’re convinced it’s the right product for them. But what if you were to draw more attention to the value the product can provide for the customer?
Think carefully about the problem your customer is trying to solve and how your product can help. This instantly elevates the value of the product in their eyes. You can create even more value by: developing value-adding content that answers customer questions, building a community for your customers where an exchange of information can take place, and by hosting live, in-person events.
Don’t just see a transaction as an exchange of money for product. See it as an opportunity to create more value in your business-customer relationship.
2. Create great customer support/service.
Today’s customers expect a great support and service experience. They don’t want to feel like they’re buying from a faceless enterprise that treats them like a number. When they have questions, they want them answered. When they have a problem with their order, they want to be able to reach a real human being and not a pre-recorded answering service. They want to be heard.
Here are several ways to create a better customer experience:
- Allow your customers to get in touch with you through multiple channels -- phone, email, social media, online chat, helpdesk and so on.
- Speaking of which, make sure to listen to your customers on social media. Many people expect you to provide customer service on their favorite social networks and in a timely manner too.
- Track customer interactions to eliminate confusion and offer a more customized experience. Get to know your customers and their needs.
- Answer incoming queries quickly. Your response times need to be fast to create a great customer experience.
Also don’t forget to use an appropriate mobile payment solution. There are more people browsing for products on their mobile devices than ever before, and not using a quick and simple checkout solution could mean leaving a lot of money on the table.
3. Understand the consumer.
It’s easy to speak in terms of generalities, but the best strategy is one of the most basic -- understanding who your customer is and what their needs are. When do they buy? What do they buy? Why do they buy?
Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty
Every niche and audience is a little different, and you will have an easier time fostering customer loyalty when you have a clear understanding of who you’re serving.
Disapers.com -- formerly Quidsi -- is the perfect example of a company that understood their customer. Prior to Diapers.com, there were no sites serving the online baby care market. But after experiencing some frustration with having to buy diapers in the middle of the night and figuring out what the right sizes were, founders Marc Lore and Vinit Bharara decided to launch a site where parents could go to buy diapers online. Quidsi was purchased by Amazon in 2010 for a cool $540 million.
Who is your customer? What problems are they trying to solve? How can you make it easier for them to make a buying decision? Could you provide more or better information than your competitors? Could you cater to a market that’s currently underserved?
Generating more leads and customers should be a part of every businesses’ strategy. But what we often forget is that serving our existing customers is more profitable than constantly pursuing fresh blood. If we can continually incentivize repeat business, we’ll extend customer lifetime value and encourage more sales from each and every customer.
One way to incentivize your customers is with a loyalty program. You can offer free shipping, product discounts and other promotions to people who have bought from you. This will keep them coming back when they need to buy more of what you have to offer.
You can also implement a membership program, which can take many different forms. If you offer a consumable product like a vitamin, for example, you could offer a subscription to your customers so fresh supplies are automatically sent to their doors as they’re about to run out. The membership could also take the form of an online community, such as a forum, where your customers can go to ask questions and interact with other community members. This would work well in a passion niche like guitar, fishing or golf.
Giving your users the ability to login to your website and save their personal information with you is also par for the course. This encourages repeat business and also saves your customers from having to enter their address and credit card information every time they order something from you.
Related: 3 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty
Going through the process of fostering customer loyalty will also add value to the eventual sale of your business. If you have plans of exiting from your ecommerce site and moving onto new ventures in the future, or you can see it as a faraway possibility, the steps outlined here will make a difference to your valuation.
Small things can really make a big difference. Even in an increasingly fragmented online world, you can still build customer loyalty and encourage more people to buy from you and keep buying from you. It all goes back to who your customers are and what they want. Providing an excellent experience will help you to stay top-of-mind with them.