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How to build customer loyalty: 5 strategies we use

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Author photo: Alex Bakula-Davis

Alex Bakula-Davis

Director of Customer Success

You probably already know that customer acquisition is just one aspect of running a successful venture.

Because in addition to cooking up some marketing magic to gain customers, you need to be able to retain existing customers too.

One of the best ways to do that is to build customer loyalty.

With fierce competition all around you, it’s critical that you keep your customers loyal so they don’t take their business elsewhere.

Beyond reward programs and email newsletter specials, loyalty requires you to develop strong relationships with your prospects and customers.

Only then you can really focus on deepening relationships, increasing brand recall—and encouraging repeat business.

In this post, we’ll go over:

Let’s look at what customer loyalty is and how you can build it for your brand.

What is customer loyalty? 

In a nutshell, “customer loyalty” is a customer’s ongoing desire to choose you over your competitors.

Usually, it’s the result of a positive emotional connection with your brand. This connection can be rooted in anything, from feeling like your offering perfectly fulfills their needs, to feeling like you “get them” and always have their best interests in mind.

In fact, one study showed that 79% of surveyed U.S. consumers said that a brand has to demonstrate that they care about and understand them before they even consider making a purchase. And 56% said that they’re more loyal to companies that can show that they deeply understand their preferences and priorities.

The benefits of customer loyalty

Strong customer loyalty has a range of awesome benefits, including:

  • More revenue: Loyal customers shell out more money to brands they trust. A study by Accenture found that customer loyalty program members generate about 12–18% more revenue than non-members.
  • Better reputation: Happy customers make it known—when they love a brand, they spread the news through word-of-mouth, social media, reviews on various platforms, and more.
  • More customers: As a result of the reputation boost, more customers will be drawn to your brand once they hear about how great you are.

How to build customer loyalty

1. Be honest and transparent

Transparency and communication are paramount to building customer loyalty. Chances are, if these aren’t a main pillar of your strategy, even the best Customer Success teams will flop.

In my experience, apart from how much value they get out of your product, customers often choose which brands they’re loyal to based on transparency in the relationship.

One of the tactics that I’m a huge fan of for building transparency and communication is by sending regular updates on product releases, new features, and other development insights.

It’s critical that these are timely, consistent, and in-depth, so that customers feel that they’re in the loop with where your company is headed.

2. Create an effective onboarding process

If you’re operating in the SaaS industry like we do at Copper, the initial interactions a customer has with your product or service will set the tone for their entire experience. And the probability of them being loyal to your company—and recommending it to others—will increase with the level of satisfaction you give them during the onboarding phase.

This is why modern brands tend to place a lot of emphasis on onboarding. (More on our experiences with onboarding our own customers here.)

You should provide your customers with all the resources and information they need early on, and eliminate any friction that might disrupt their customer experience.

For instance, one of the benefits of Copper is that it presents all the details your organization has on a contact as soon as you enter their name into a fresh email draft—and it’s a big “aha” moment for our users, helping them understand the immediate possibilities and value of our CRM:

While onboarding, start a conversation with your customers and understand their expectations for your product. How-to tutorials and knowledge bases are all the rage right now, especially if you’re in the SaaS industry.

Compile these resources and make it your goal to answer your customers’ frequently asked questions.

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3. Deliver personalized customer experiences

According to Epsilon, 80% of customers are more likely to buy from companies that provide them with a personalized experience.

And from years of working in Customer Success, I’ve seen that personalizing your communications to cater to the individual needs and preferences of your customers is a necessary step to build customer loyalty.

(Calling your customers by name is an ideal way to start, and you’ll be surprised at how many people still respond to emails with “Dear Sir/Madam.”)

To this end, tracking data on your customers through your CRM can help you personalize every interaction:

From the types of emails they’re engaging with to who they spoke with most recently, these insights are especially useful when it’s time to have a one-on-one chat with your customers.

4. Be sincere in how you handle mistakes

Building loyalty doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be perfect 100% of the time.

For example, say that you somehow mess up or fail to meet their expectations. (This is almost guaranteed to happen no matter which company you're working at.)

Customers will be much more likely to forgive you and stay loyal—or even become loyal—if you’re transparent and sincere about the issue.

In this context, that means proving that you’re listening to their feedback by apologizing and actively trying to improve their experience.

One way to do this is to “make it up to them” with freebies. It’s possibly the easiest (and most tangible) way to show a customer that they’re valued.

In Copper, you can send a message about the freebie by creating personalized email templates that auto-populate each customer’s information:

5. Offer multiple channels of support

Another way to build customer loyalty is to make yourself available on the channels that your customers use—that might mean going beyond a phone number or email address.

From social media channels like LinkedIn to live-chat platforms, you have various avenues for funneling customer questions to the right resources (or team member). You’ll also find it easier to answer customer questions quickly as you don’t have to jump from channel to channel:

With the exception of the typo, this is a good example of how to use Twitter to respond to customer questions.

A comprehensive knowledge base can serve a similar purpose. For example, our knowledge base contains different guides to answer our customers’ most pressing questions:

In a multi-channel world, building customer loyalty requires us to be on more devices and channels than ever before.

Bonus customer loyalty idea: “Voice of the Customer” program

A “Voice of the Customer” (VOC) program is one idea to add to your customer loyalty efforts.

Here at Copper, our VOC program is in the form of a survey and follow-up. The key here is that this has to be an ongoing effort, not a one-off thing. That way, you’re making sure that your customers have a consistent two-way communication channel.

We start by sending customers an email introducing the program. This email says something like, “Help us choose our new features on our product roadmap. What do you want to see?”

By telling them we’re interested in their opinions and asking them to be a part of our future strategy, we’re showing customers that we really care about what they have to say.

We also ask various questions to get a temperature reading on how customers feel. To do this, we first meet with each department to see which topics and issues they find most relevant.

After we send out those questions, we gather responses, do some analysis, and make decisions based off the results:

We then communicate those insights to customers and tell them about the impact of their feedback. Sometimes, we’ll share relevant product updates: “Here’s a new Copper feature that we developed because of you!”

You can use your CRM to document customer feedback and loop in relevant team members, so that everyone has easy access and the decision-making process is streamlined.

Loyal customers make for flourishing businesses

Even if you’re not quite ready for a full-fledged, holistic customer loyalty program, you can still start working toward it now.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to prove your value to customers—and they’re increasingly measuring value based on how much you can cater to their unique needs and preferences.

At the very least, use a tool like a CRM to create a more cohesive customer experience that ensures efficiency, convenience, and service that’s responsive and knowledgeable.

When you can make your customers feel special, it becomes easier to set the foundation for strong, healthy, and loyal customer relationships.

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