How to Build Long-Lasting Customer Loyalty

How to Build Long-Lasting Customer Loyalty

The day has been long. It was fantastic that you have a booth at TechDay. You are now examining 13 pieces of paper that include fresh names, emails, and phone numbers. 150 brand-new contacts must have been acquired. They are prospective clients, not simply contacts.

How can you convert these potential consumers into paying customers? How do you win over these customers and make them madly devoted to your brand and mission? Do you need to email them? Phone them? Maybe send a follow-up email first.

Gathering contacts in hopes that they eventually become loyal clients can be a very big problem for startups of all types. It’s as painful as algebra class. The teacher, or in your current case the Internet, has plenty of opinions, formulas, and direction on how to solve this very dynamic problem. Just like in algebra, you have to put in the time and effort to understand some core principles in order to create a result of incredible (even insane) customer loyalty.

Insane customer loyalty by definition is that your customers will stay with you and be loyal to your products, even if there is a competitor that is better and/or cheaper.

Here are 10 variables that when combined into the right equation, can help you solve for insane customer loyalty.

Handwritten, personalized thank you cards. 

Do not underestimate the power of a handwritten and heartfelt thank you card delivered to a new client. There is something that will always remain special about getting something in the mail that’s handwritten and sincere. You probably remember the last time you got a thank you card. Own the real estate on that memory for your clients. It’s a simple thing to do for just $.47. Only have their email and not a physical address. Get creative with an e-card and make sure that it is relevant and authentic. Or, create a customized video message to the email to clients. Whatever the medium, take a moment to thank the people who purchase your product, download your app, and believe in your vision.

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First mover advantage.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, “fortune is in the follow-up.” In this context, “fortune is the future earnings you will receive off a customer who is insanely loyal to you.” Follow-up refers to your speed in making the first contact with those people who write their names and email on your contact sheet. Keith Ferrazzi, in his New York Times best-selling book, Never Eat Alone, talks about your ability to stand out in a crowd of other businesses, if you have a first mover advantage in your follow-up. Your prospect wrote their name down on more than just your sign-up sheet. Whoever he or she gets an email from first, gets first mover advantage.

Be accessible. 

The longer it takes a customer to get in touch with you, the further you will be from forming loyalty. Pick up the phone before the fourth ring. Call your own customer service systems and evaluate the experience for yourself. Follow up with customer complaints or inquiries within a few hours. Monitor your social media accounts, and react quickly to any questions, comments, or concerns expressed by your customers. We’ve all gone to the DMV, and we’ve all been miserable waiting, and waiting, and waiting for our turn. The DMV does not have loyal customers. Being available and responsive is a clear message to your customers that they are important…

Make it fun. 

No matter what your product, service, or technology is, your customers should not just enjoy their customer service experience, they should have fun. Humor, a little silliness, and the ability to not take yourself too seriously are all amazing traits that create common ground in relationships. You and your employees should know that it is okay to laugh, and it is okay to not take yourself, your company, or your products seriously all the time. Take opportunities during holidays or special events to show your customers that you and your employees can have fun. Make a holiday video where everyone is dressed up as elves. Participate in a charity walk or run, make matching silly shirts, and share photos online. People want to do business with humans, not robots. If customers see that you’re having fun, they will mirror the energy, and it will help to create deeper bonds.

Be honest. 

We all make mistakes, and not all customers will have an amazing experience. What’s more important is how you deal with mistakes when they happen. In Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, The Thank You Economy, he hits this issue right on the head. He gives some examples of mistakes and then explains ways that companies could not only fix it, but actually turn it into something that earns the company more respect. If your company makes a mistake, own it, apologize for it, and make things right. You’re not always going to have happy customers, but their loyalty has a lot to do with their belief that you will do the best you can. They’ll trust that if something goes wrong, you will make it right. Remember that your customers are humans too; the more honest you are with them, the more they will respect you.

Under-promise and over-deliver. 

At the end of the day, managing customer relationships is all about managing customer expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure by over-promising and under-delivering. As a startup, we tend to underestimate just about everything. Many delays will happen that are well beyond your control, but your customer may not see it that way. As you build relationships with manufacturing partners and distribution channels, overestimate the time it will take to not only receive but also deliver products to customers. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to managing the expectations of new customers if you want them to not only remain customers but also become insanely loyal customers.

Support a good cause. 

We live in a time where there are many good causes that need a lot of help. If your company is not giving back to the community, or to a legitimate nonprofit that’s trying to make a difference in the world, you’re missing the boat. Giving back doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’re making financial contributions. Find a cause or nonprofit that has some loose connection to either your company, your service, or the problem that your technology is trying to solve. There’s a good chance that your customers may also want to support such causes and nonprofits. If you’re planning on having millennials as part of your target market, this concept of giving back is crucial to earning their insane loyalty. Plus connecting and supporting amazing causes can help to attract new loyal customers. Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, the founders of Barefoot Wine, did this by aligning and supporting the Surfrider Foundation. The relationship that they built with the people that cared about saving the beaches and ensuring safe waters, not only build brand equity and loyal customers but also helped them to move into markets around the globe. To learn more about how supporting a good cause propelled their wine brand to become one of the most recognized brands in the world, check out their book of stories in The Barefoot Spirit. Also for insight, I learned while spending time with Michael, see these 5 Startup Tips.

Pay it forward. 

In life, have a pay-it-forward mentality. You will find that by helping other people get what they want, you will get what you want tenfold. I believe the same is true for customer service in order to develop and maintain customer loyalty. Constantly think about how you can help your customers. Listen to what they’re saying, and see if you can deliver ways to help them. Even if it’s not directly related to your product, it is a breeding ground for insane customer loyalty. It could be as simple as sharing local events or other products that might fit their lifestyle or preferences. Get involved with community events, sponsor school functions, or volunteer your time at beach cleanups. When your customers see you helping them or other people without payment, it speaks volumes about the core character of your company, employees, and brand. Need practice at paying it forward? Attend one of Expert DOJO’s networking events in Santa Monica, a massive monthly gathering that is based on the Pay It Forward Mentality.

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Have a 100% money-back guarantee. 

When customers know that they can buy your products or services with a guarantee, it helps them feel safe in their purchasing decisions. When customers feel safe about purchasing decisions, they begin to trust your brand. Trust is a key foundation to building insane customer loyalty. If your products and services really reflect your claims, guaranteeing the work or products should be a non-issue. Let your customers buy with confidence, and they will keep coming back to continue to buy from your company for a long long time.

Keep innovating. 

We live in a time where technology is changing almost as fast as it’s been adapted. You have to come to terms with the fact that your product, however innovative and advanced it is right now, will become outdated. If your company is always looking forward and keeps innovation as a core element of your business strategy, you can stay in the race as new products inevitably reach the market. Make your relationship with your customers a journey of innovation, constantly soliciting feedback and listening to them in order to develop new features and products that will serve them. Innovation and striving for next-generation products for customers is the yarn that will hold your relationship together like an ugly Christmas sweater that never seems to get thrown away.


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