How do we foster and sustain customer loyalty in a world of untrustworthy messages coming at our customers like a fire hose? Loyalty is a customers’ intention to continue doing business with you, to perhaps increase their spending, and to say good things (or refrain from saying bad things) about it to their friends and family. Social Media plays a big role in customer loyalty by helping your business welcome new customers and retain current ones.
I’m a pretty loyal customer myself and I’m always on the lookout for ways that businesses either succeed or fail to gain my loyalty. I was visiting an exclusive high-end mall the other day. It’s not a place I go often but it’s where the yoga clothing store is so I was forced to go (really, not really).
This mall is outdoors in beautiful Newport Beach, CA. Hundreds of people/families go there daily to enjoy the sunshine and often bring their dogs with them. If you’re an animal lover like me, it’s fun to watch all the different kinds of doggies interact with each other and have fun. In fact, the mall is considered a destination for people and their pets. Some of the stores even accommodate customers’ pets by providing water bowls and treats (a great loyalty tactic, by the way).
While walking on my way to the yoga store, I just happened to notice a sign embedded in a big grassy area. There were quite a few of the same signs placed strategically and it was obvious the mall wanted to make sure people saw the signs.
The surrounding areas are all concrete. So, I was asking myself, why wouldn’t they let people’s dogs use the grassy area? If you’re there with your dog shopping and he or she needs to do as nature intended, where would you go?
I left wondering how that decision was made. Why wouldn’t you want your customers to feel welcome? Why make it harder for them and their animals when visiting your store? Sure, it might take a little extra gardening support but isn’t it worth it?
Because of how my mind works, I couldn’t help but apply the customer loyalty lesson from this absurd decision to the online storefront experience and especially the welcome vibe available through Social Media engagement.
How do you welcome customers? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about the things that make you feel welcome and appreciated. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and make every attempt to give them what they need to feel comfortable during the purchase journey. You probably already do this in real life. Now it’s just a matter of remaining customer first in the digital age.
How to provide a great Social Media habitat to ease the buying process and foster customer loyalty:
Give them a reason to visit.
The sunshine is a great draw at the Newport Beach mall. What kind of digital sunshine can you spread with Social Media content?
- Information: Things that feed their knowledge.
- Inspirational: Things that fuel their fire.
- Entertaining: Things that make them smile.
Show how other customers feel welcome and appreciated.
- Customer testimonial or short interviews
- Customer Loyalty programs in action
- Customer Experience in action
Know where your customer is looking and when they’re listening.
People are going to hear about your company and it’s your job to know where they’ll look to learn more. Don’t discount social channels as part of that process.
Make the customer feel special.
Social Customer Service is a game-changer. People want to feel like they truly know the company they’re purchasing from and many brands thrive on social media because customers can interact with them when they wish.
Social Customer Service lets your customer know they are heard and appreciated.
Make sure your customer’s online experience mirrors their offline experience.
I must see 2-3 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts everyday where they’re either a ghost town or they’re the equivalent of a billboard. Those scenarios do not instill a welcome feeling. They’re just like the mall’s sign to keep off the grass.
Customer loyalty must be a process within your business, including customer and employee retention. It’s the attention to detail and little things that matter…which can turn out to be big things in customer’s eyes.