We hear complaints about the lack of loyalty with today's customers.
When was the last time you did something to strengthen the relationship with your customers? Let me show you how and why a customer loyalty program can be a major tool in your efforts to increase sales.
Your Most Valuable Asset!
What's your most valuable asset? Your equipment? Your building? Your programs and services? No, it's your customers. Why? Because repeat customer business is your most important commodity. Business from loyal customers creates a secure future for your company.
Nurturing the Emotional Bond with your Customers
It makes sense to tap into the loyalty of your customers. Loyalty is the emotional connection with your customers. It's the trust, the understanding, and the good feeling you have with your customers, and they with you. Nurturing this emotional bond is the heart of any customer loyalty program.
The Benefits of Loyal Customers
Studies show it costs at least five times more to sell new customers as it does to sell to existing customers.
Look at these other benefits that come from loyal customers.
„Ï Loyal customers spend more
„Ï Loyal customers cost less to serve
„Ï Loyal customers are less price-sensitive
„Ï Loyal customers are more forgiving
„Ï Loyal customers refer others to your business more often
„Ï Loyal customers help you improve your business
In today's competitive market place, chasing prospects on the ¡§other side¡¨ of the proverbial mountain wastes precious time and resources. Your best opportunities for more profits and sales lie with your loyal customers.
Principles for Creating a Customer Loyalty Program
How do you create a customer loyalty program that taps into your best opportunity for new sales? Here are eight principles to make the creation of your own program more effective.
1. Find your own unique path. Putting a customer loyalty program on top of lots of other customer programs will not be very effective. The customer loyalty program should become an integral part of your overall activities with customers.
2. Don't copy somebody else's program. Identify what is important to your customers. What motivates and inspires them? Use these items as part of your customer loyalty program.
3. Build a two-way relationship. A customer loyalty program isn't just another way to get money from customers. It means building a long-term relationship. Do the things that will make this a two-way relationship.
4. Determine who will be included in your program. Not all customers are equal. Determine who you want to include in the loyalty program. A customer loyalty program should convey a feeling of privilege for those selected.
5. Live up to your customers' expectations. You did this before. That's why they're loyal customers. You must continue to meet their expectations. Customer loyalty programs require a quality effort from you.
6. Make the program simple. Customers need to easily understand the program and how it operates. As part of the simplicity, you will need some type of system to keep track of customer transactions.
7. Have regular contact with your customers. You need to do more than tell your customer once about the program. Keep sending postcards, newsletters, reminders or special notices. You can start informing your customers about the program as early as the selling process. A customer loyalty program can be an added benefit of making the purchase from your business.
9. Systemize the Program. Design your customer loyalty program so that it can operate with very little maintenance¡Xput a system in place. It works while you are sleeping.
What Kind of Programs Are There?
Here are two basic types of programs, but there are many variations you can bring to your own business.
Membership Loyalty Programs
As a loyal customer, get a membership. Membership-only businesses like Sam's Club are well known. A membership program provides special privileges, discounts, pre-sales and other incentives to participate in the membership.
You are familiar with frequent flyer and coffee card programs. In these types of programs, a customer earns points or dollars with more purchases or referrals.
Some businesses have expanded the rewards program. When customers earn enough points, they can go to an on-line store and choose from a variety of rewards.
Either of these two basic types of programs can include discounts, added bonuses to purchases, customer privileges, and flexibility with customer payments. Knowing what is most important to your customers is the secret to making a customer loyalty program successful.
Action to Take
If I asked how you could nurture a closer relationship with your spouse or children, you could come up with several suggestions. Ask the same question about your loyal customers. What can you do to nurture a better relationship with them? Decide on the ways, put them into a customer loyalty program, and watch your sales increase.
This article has given you the why's of customer loyalty programs and how they can increase your sales. If you want a step-by¡Vstep process for creating a customer loyalty program, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a free report on how to create your own customer loyalty program.
Copyright Al Hanzal, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Hanzal Enterprises, Inc.
4191 Granite Court
Eagan, Minnesota 55123