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Building Customer Loyalty Both in Person and Online

Customer Loyalty for Businesses

September 27, 2022

With friendly residents and eager shoppers, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a great place to start a business. However, just like in any town, if you hope to have your customers returning to your company time and time again, you need to build rapport and loyalty that is without comparison.

To help you out, we have created this quick guide featuring tips on how to think like your customers, earn their trust and keep them coming back with a great loyalty program.

Build Rapport with Your Customers

The act of building loyalty with your customers starts from the very first time you speak to them in person or online. Separate yourself from the competition by offering a friendly greeting and getting their name so you can use it throughout your exchange for a more personal interaction. Active listening is another important component of good rapport. If your customer needs to repeat themselves because they think you weren’t listening, then they may not come back.

It is also essential that your sales agents show a sense of empathy whenever a customer comes in with a concern. If an item they purchased from your store arrived damaged, then apologize and do whatever you can to make it right. If customers are unsatisfied, then make it easy to set up a return on your website and provide a turnaround time for when they will receive their refund or replacement.

Even if something negative happens and it is not your fault, like the customer dropped the item, and it broke, you still want to show empathy. The customer will appreciate your concern.

Finally, try to find a way to personalize a customer’s retail experience with upbeat conversation. They will remember the personal touch that you provided. Most companies do not go above and beyond like this, so your business will likely be remembered.

Create a Loyalty Program

If you want a surefire way to convince your customers to remember your company and come back for more, reward them for their continued business with a loyalty program. Typically, this is a program offered on your website or a physical card that they get punched every time they come back and make a purchase.

Once your customers return a preset number of times or they spend a certain amount of money, reward them for their dedication to your business. Rewards could include a free gift, a discount on a future purchase or something else you create. Make sure to only offer what you can really afford to give away. If you run out of resources and go back on your word, then you will lose that customer’s trust.

You can continue to build your customer base by adding a referral system to your loyalty program. Create an arrangement where every time a customer refers a friend to your organization, and they make a purchase, the referrer is rewarded. Create a loyalty program that is enticing enough, and your customer list could grow exponentially over time.

According to Shopify, there are four basic types of loyalty programs that your business can choose to implement:

  • Paid — a model that employs recurring payments from customers to remain as members in this fee-based model. This model must have higher-level rewards to outweigh the membership costs. However, members that have already paid are 62% more likely to shop with your brand;
  • Points-based — the most common type of rewards program that allows customers to rack up points as they shop to redeem for rewards like discounts, freebies, perks and more;
  • Tiered — similar to points-based, a loyalty model that ranks customers based on level, offering higher incentives based on tier level;
  • Value-based — a rewards program that customers can sign up for to donate a portion of their purchases to a charity rather than receiving rewards for themselves.

There are already some forward-thinking businesses that use loyalty programs successfully in the DSM, including:

  • Boesen — a local florist and flower delivery company that gives you points for every dollar spent, allowing customers to check on, cash in and accumulate their Petal Rewards points online;
  • Coachlight — a beauty clinic and wellness spa that partners with Alle to offer rewards for members in the form of discounts on in-office treatments using those specific products;
  • Downtown Doggy Daycare — a dog boarding facility where boarding punch cards, daycare punch cards, and customer referrals earn your dog free stays;
  • Global Brew Tap House — a local brewery that offers rewards in the form of members-only t-shirts, jackets, flags and tap handles on their wall of fame, creating a feeling of exclusivity to keep customers coming back;
  • Kum & Go — a local gas station with a rewards system that gives customers incentives to sign up, pay at the pump and more.

You can also glean valuable insights from integrating a rewards program into your business model. For example, Kum & Go has worked with Tippie College of Business masters program students to analyze customer information to develop customer personas that offer personalized discounts. Coachlight’s Alle program also highlights how you can partner with other businesses and vendors if they already offer loyalty programs.

Think Like a Customer

The best way to increase sales is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. The first step in doing so is to identify your target demographic. Your audience could be teenagers, seniors or anything in between. You can find your demographic by looking at the customer data on your website or by sending out online surveys. You can also be more direct by asking incoming customers why they shop at your store.

Next, try to describe your product from your customer's perspective. Think about how this product will improve their lives and how it will solve their problems or fill a specific need. Implement these answers into your marketing.

If you really want your products to stick with your consumer and you have a physical storefront, then try to place high-value products at their eye level. That way, you can move those items faster. If you have a website, then you can follow the same principle by putting your best-selling products on the front page, so it is the first thing that your customer sees.

As you can see, there are many ways that your company can build customer loyalty online and at your physical storefronts. Consider these tips to achieve long-term business success.

Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.