When customers aren't sure of who they can trust, they start to examine all of their options. The older days of customer loyalty and brand loyalty, like when a brand name was enough to garner loyalty, isn't an effective strategy as it used to be. People are far more scrutinizing in the so-called "customer era", so companies must try harder to build customer loyalty amongst their customers. One way to build better brand awareness and encourage customer loyalty is to offer rewards, as many companies do.
But rewards for loyal customers can be somewhat double-edged. When marketing tries to come up with ways for building customer loyalty, they believe that offering rewards can encourage people to become repeat customers and build retention. These rewards could be things like punch cards, point systems, or something else that gives loyal customers a reason to keep coming back. The technology of rewards programs has gotten to the point where a consumer doesn't even have to think about the management of them; the rewards simply accumulate and are there when it's time to spend. It can keep customers loyal, but it also has a bit of a "surface-level" appeal to it.
Another way to look at this is from the perspective of the brand: what are the benefits it reaps for inspiring loyal customers? And what does it take to inspire customers for "true" loyalty (as in, they're not just in for the perks)? Rewards certainly help build loyalty, but it's more important to focus on things like providing a great product or service and being known for having top-notch customer service. Marketing alone can't convince customers to remain loyal.
To build a brand with loyal customers takes time, especially for a newer company (or a company that has fallen out of vogue), but we can't undersell the importance of that investment. And it's important to do it the right way, so that people stay committed to a brand. Great advertising, offering discounts, and offering limited incentives can only get a company so far - real customer loyalty comes from offering a great product, service, and customer service that really focuses on customer satisfaction.
As our latest infographic shows, customer loyalty is very important. 78% of loyal customers help spread the word about your brand, and 54% won't even consider switching to a competitor. If your company can offer a unique experience with your product or service, it will only encourage more of your customers to stay loyal.
If you're looking to create a strategy for building loyal customers with better customer service, learn more about Zendesk for retail.