Sam Walton of Wall-Mart said “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Businesses exist because customers do and businesses grow because customers do.
The smartest businesses are the ones that recognize the value of their customers and make them feel special. Furthermore, the key to any successful business is to keep the customers returning. How do you ensure that that happens? One of the simplest ways to do this is by instituting a Customer Loyalty program.
What is a customer loyalty program?
A customer loyalty program is a structured marketing endeavor that encourages repeated buying from customers. It also involves attracting the right kind of customers and making them continue to patronize your business. For most businesses, it costs about 5 to 10 times less to keep an old customer as compared to attracting new ones. For any business, it makes sense to have a customer loyalty system in place.
How to start a customer loyalty program Starting a customer loyalty program does not need to follow any hard and fastest of rules. Here are some of the ways through which you can painlessly integrate a customer loyalty program in your business:
1. Point-based system
The easiest way to keep a check on your loyal customer is through a point-based system. Here the customers accrue points on every purchase which could later be redeemed for some product or service from your business.
The apparent simplicity of this process is sometimes overly complicated by marketers which leads to this system becoming redundant with customers failing to make use of it. Hence when starting a point-based system for rewarding your loyal customers, make sure it is easy to understand and highlights the potential rewards for your customers clearly.
A simple card with a bar code that could be swiped every time a purchase is made could be the simplest way to keep a track of the customer’s purchases and the points gathered by them.
2. Credit-based reward system
For those customers who have been buying from you for a while, it would be a good idea to offer them a credit-based system for higher purchase. This could involve starting a zero percent interest-based EMI based system or even offering them additional credit on their swipe cards so that they could make bigger purchases.
3. Strategic partnerships with other businesses
Making strategic partnerships with other businesses to get the best deals, offers, goods, and services for your existing clients could be one of the strengthening moves for a customer loyalty program. This may be beneficial for your business as it can charge a fee for getting new customers for the business partner while at the same time, pleasing your own customers.
4. Charge a membership fee
Offer enticing perks and privileges to your loyal customers but just make them pay a simple membership fee. This would unofficially integrate them into your business sales system. By making them members, you give them a sense of belonging with your business and thus make sure they favor you over your competitors. One very important thing to keep in mind here is to pose the membership benefits as of a great ‘status’ value for your customer – make sure that your advertising and marketing strategy is such that your customers would like to become members.
5. Finally, be nice
A strong reason why a customer would come back to you would be if they had a good experience dealing with you and they felt taken care of. It is a good idea to thank your customers after every sale, provide them hospitable service, keep in touch with them and make them feel special every once in a while. This singular aspect takes no monetary investment but goes a long way in building and growing a base of loyal customers.
All in all, instituting a good customer loyalty program could work wonders for your business but only if it is carefully charted out and based on proper research. Finally, it also boils down to maintaining good relations with your customers which would keep them loyal to you and could benefit your business in the long run as well as the short term.