The Importance of Customer Loyalty to Small Business

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Business Management

By Marc Ford, Coach, Author and Editor at YBKBS

“Loyalty is hard to find. Trust is easy to lose. Actions speak louder than words.”

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Customer acquisition, or getting customers and clients as it’s known in plain english, is at the top of the agenda for most businesses and their owners – most of their marketing budget, strategy and time, if they have those, is spent on advertising materials meant to drum up new visitors, clients and customers for their small business.

Not to mention, new technologies such as group buying sites and consumer reviewing apps are emerging to help businesses expand their reach. New ways of tagging people on content posts, sales funnels, lead funnels, funnels for funnels, chatbots, autobots and deceptorcons. 

The last two are the names for Transformers so I’m making sure your with us so far…

However, many fail to put as much focus on customer loyalty programs. And it’s just bemusing.

They are the richest vein of marketing you could wish for and if you tap into that vein just right, I am telling you, not only will you marketing spend go down, but what you do spend has a much higher return on investment.

Building and growing any business is much more than just accumulating new customers – it’s retaining recurring ones, too.  Unless of course you are an undertaker or a driving instructor.

Two businesses where people leave after they’ve either died or passed their test, never to return. Very few businesses are like that, but you get my jist!?

Many businesses overlook the importance of customer retention and loyalty programs and they really shouldn’t. They are able to bring increased sales, brand awareness and a sense of security during tough times. 

In fact, many businesses report that 20 percent of a business’ existing customers generate 80 percent of its profits. It’s that good old 80/20 rule that gets banded about a lot, but is essentially spot on.

In order to bolster profitability, businesses must cultivate and care for their recurring customers, engaging them in customer loyalty programs and providing them with frequent incentives. Lets take car insurance for example. 

About 10 years ago, they had it all their own way. You bought their insurance. Renewal came around. You stayed with them because it was just less hassle.

Problem is that we became educated to the increasing cost of insurance if we didn’t look around. If you spent say £300 a year on insurance and didn’t have an accident, a conviction, a bump, a scrape, hadn’t moved, hadn’t changed car and hadn’t claimed, why on God’s green earth should your insurance go up to £400 the next year?

Hardly reward for being sensible is it?

It’s the same with gas and electric and tv and broadband right now.

We’re left feeling a bit bitter and twisted because new customers get the best prices and good, loyal ones are just paying whatever someone wants us to pay. We then spend our valuable time either looking elsewhere or haggling with someone in Scotland or further afield to get the best deal we can. Why should we go to those lengths when all we are, are good customers and clients?

So why should your business be any different?

Go on…tell me why!

You can’t and if you are arguing with me, well my friend you’ll soon be in trouble enough as others remember ‘The Customer (or Client) is King or Queen’…not you! So here are five reasons why loyal customers are essential to your business:

Loyal customers are easier to sell to

Because loyal customers are more familiar with their preferred businesses, they are usually more inclined to try new menu items, new products and recommendations. 

In fact, according to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to new prospects is about 5 to 20 percent, but for an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. 

In other words, it’s extremely worthwhile – businesses can put forth the same amount of effort, but expect much higher success.

Loyal customers can act as brand ambassadors

As brand ambassadors, your loyal customers can reinforce your values to other consumers.  Because they frequent your store or restaurant and are satisfied with your product, they are also more likely to share their positive experiences with others – in the form of recommendations, reviews or social media praise. 

They are also more inclined to speak about your brand in everyday conversation with their peers, or “word-of-mouth marketing” and they also do most of the selling for you. 

In some instances you’ll find someone referred to you by a existing customer or past client, will never actually ask the price. They just know it’s good stuff they’re getting.

Acquiring new customers is more expensive

Research has shown that it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire new customers than to continue serving loyal customers. To acquire new customers, restaurants and retail stores have to catch their eye with advertisements, provide introductory information about their brand, draw them in with discounts and deals and encourage them to try new items or products. 

Each of these tasks can be costly. On the flip side, focusing on customer loyalty is much less labor-intensive.

Loyal customers protect your business from competition.

Your loyal customers are the foundation for your business. If competition gets stiff or budgets get tight, they will be there to give you some padding – an “economic moat” as Warren Buffett puts it. 

Newer customers will be more likely to switch to a competitor, hurting your sales. Loyal customers reduce the risk of price sensitivity; they aren’t likely to abandon your brand after a small price adjustment. In tough times, your business’ ability to retain customers could be its saving grace.

Loyal customers offer constructive feedback

How can your brand grow if you are unsure which areas of your business need improvement? 

Your loyal customers know your brand inside and out and can tell you, honestly and constructively, what you’re doing right and what needs some work.  Newer customers could shy away or develop biases after one or two unpleasant experiences, giving way to negative reviews that might not be an accurate representation of an average visit. Feedback is essential to maintaining quality products and service. 

So, now that you know the importance of customer loyalty, what are you doing to reward and retain your loyal customers?

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