She called the online company to return the boots purchased for her father.

He recently passed away, and she had no need for the boots. She explained the situation to the customer representative on the phone. The rep refunded her money, told her to keep the boots, and to give them away if she wanted.

This wasn’t what she expected. And even more touching was the flowers she received a couple weeks later from the customer rep. This act of kindness and generosity touched her so deeply she sent the representative a letter and a picture of her father.

This story is the epitome of customer service.

It’s vital that you care deeply about customers… the same customers who keep your brand in business.

Your company should look at buyers as real humans… people with needs and wants and struggles. Take care of your customers and you’ll have a loyal following of people who will buy from you over and over again.

What is customer loyalty and why is it important?

Simply put, customer loyalty is a customer’s willingness to interact with or buy from a specific company on an ongoing basis. Loyalty can stem from many things, but in general a loyal customer will associate favorable experiences with a brand therefore increasing their likelihood to make repeat purchases with that business. Loyal customers spend 67% more on products and services than new customers. Even though your most loyal customers only make up 20% of your audience, they provide up to 80% of your revenue.

Since it’s 5x easier to retain a customer than acquire a new one, if you focus on existing customers, they’ll continue buying from you and will spend more over their lifetime with your company.

In an over-saturated e-commerce marketplace, loyalty matters now more than ever.

“Build a loyalty platform with clear consumer benefits, and layer in customer-generated content to help build a community. With a great voice of the customer (VOC) strategy–including questions and answers, ratings and reviews, and visual content–your customers will feel right at home consuming and adding their own voice to your community.”

Eric Taylor • Director of Product Management, TurnTo Networks

Use case: revamped loyalty program

Starbucks attributes a majority of the additional $2.65 billion in revenue to their rewards program. Reward memberships grew over 25% in the last two years and now have 16.8 million members.

Customers redeem rewards faster than the previous program and can redeem smaller amounts of stars for small things like a shot of espresso or an extra pump of sugar.

It really pays to be a member – free drink on your birthday, free in-store refills on coffee and tea, free bakery item after just 50 stars… the list goes on.

It’s also very convenient. Customers can order ahead, skip lines, craft personalized beverages, exchange stars for retail merchandise, and earn extra points on special Starbucks days.

Did you know that just a small change in customer loyalty can have a major impact on your bottom line? Find out more in the Customer Loyalty Whitepaper.

Use case: the Reebok experience

Starbucks rewards customers mostly with gifts. Reebok has an alternative approach, and one that may cost the brand less money than a gift-based rewards plan. Reebok provides VIP experiences, training and wellness programs, partner rewards, and much more.

Members gain points for every interaction and transaction. As points accumulate so do the value of the rewards. Even going as far as providing access to partner events and product releases.

5 benefits of customer loyalty for a business

1. Drive repeat business

Though it may go without saying, loyal customers are the most likely to keep coming back to purchase from your business. They may have a favorite product they can’t live without, or they may feel inclined to try your latest product or service because they have had favorable experiences in the past. Whatever their reason may be, loyal customers are more likely to drive repeat business, making retention of loyal customers key.

2. Increase revenue

As mentioned earlier, returning customers spend close to 70% more money on products and services when compared to first-time customers. The likelihood to spend more stems from a sense of trust that the customer has developed over time for their favored brand. In essence, once a customer likes and trusts the quality of your brand, they’re more likely to purchase in higher quantities.

3. Create brand ambassadors

Not only will loyal customers keep coming back themselves, they will spread brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing. Happy customers are likely to tell friends and family about your business and your products, essentially advertising and spreading good graces on your behalf. Existing customer referrals help bring in new customers, making your loyal customers brand ambassadors of sorts.

4. Defend against the competition

When loyal customers spend money with your brand, competitors lose out on potential revenue. Essentially, every dollar spent with you is a dollar not spent with your competitor. Be sure to keep your loyal customers happy with great customer service (and a great loyalty program) so they continue to purchase from your business and not your competitors.

5. Gain valuable feedback

Often, it’s your loyal customers who answer surveys and respond to questionnaires distributed by your marketing team. Because they like your brand and what you to improve (or stay great as you are), loyal customers will not mind taking the time to share valuable feedback that you can then turn into actionable marketing tactics.

Connecting customer loyalty & marketing

Many companies begin their loyalty programs siloed from marketing goals and the customer database. It’s no wonder customers get angry when they receive an email with 20% off coupons on items they just purchased.

An effective loyalty program connects to current marketing initiatives and has access to the customer database for a true omnichannel approach.

You don’t have to send to every channel right away. Start small by leveraging email and then build out the rest of your program.

Final thoughts

Great customer service helps to show customers you care. In return these customers will become loyal and buy from you repeatedly. Forge a relationship with your current customers. They’ll continue to engage your brand and recommend your company to friends and family. True word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty go hand-in-hand.

Just know that a loyalty program should enable your brand to increase in value and drive up the LTV of customers. Not every loyalty program offers discounts. Some companies engage members through exclusive experiences.

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Want to increase your customer lifetime value by 306%? Find out more in the Customer Loyalty Whitepaper.