Creating Customer Loyalty
In this era of sales and promotions, many people are loyal to low price instead of the store itself. How can you create customer loyalty to your store and brand, with price becoming secondary? There are ways to do it and keep those customers coming back to you.
Everyone wants that customer base that will go out of their way to buy something from them. How do you create these brand evangelists? With the rise of mobile and people being able to buy on the fly and at the best price, it is about more than just offering a loyalty card.
We use the example of the Apple store below, but these ideas will translate to all businesses, no matter the size or products.
Every Touchpoint Matters
Apple embodies the concept of “every touchpoint matters”. In every interaction with Apple – from the store layout, to the product design, to the employees and their approach to “selling” (no pressure and totally informational) – brand voice and user interfaces are unquestionably Apple. They have done such a great job that in a blind interaction with any of its brand elements, consumers would likely be able to tell if something was Apple or not (i.e. if someone blindly walked into an Apple store and there was no Apple logo or reference, they would still know they were in an Apple store).
While this strategy has been key to its success on many levels, from a customer loyalty perspective it is important because it creates an environment that is totally purposeful and credible, has a defined point of view, and is a totally connected experience for its customers – something that they can’t get elsewhere.
Another great example is the game Cards Against Humanity. They are totally irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes rude. That is the brand’s personality and they pull it off well. Though technically a “card game” they create a full experience (without having their own physical store) for their followers who, in turn, loyally follow every product extension, blog, and holiday promo. Check it out, but bring your sense of humor with you.
Think about what that overall experience is in your store and then weave it into every detail and touchpoint of interaction with your customer.
There are so many community elements that Apple creates for its customers, and actively promotes to its customers, that help build an environment where people can have an active dialog with the brand and other users of the brand. This includes things like the Genius Bar (personal, one-to-one interaction), one-to-one appointments for setting-up a new computer, AND a free year of classes with other Apple users, personal tutorial appointments with staff members and the Apple Support Community, where users can share and discuss troubleshooting tips and feedback with one another. All of these types of initiatives and user driven communication outlets reinforce this idea of community and contribute to the loyalty that people have with the brand.
What do you do around your products or services to include your customers and create customer loyalty?
Apple has an almost unprecedented limited sku count (as compared to most retailers), something that is especially notable given the sales per sq. ft. they generate in their retail stores. It has been widely researched that too much choice is demotivating. If a retailer can curate the assortment of goods, then all the products become more thoughtful and consumers look at the retailer as a trusted authority in the space.
All of these things build customer loyalty, even if the customer can buy the same products elsewhere. Lay the foundation for them to be loyally your customer by thinking about how to bring the above into your environment.
At Retail Concepts, we will conduct a comprehensive assessment with our small business clients to look at their business holistically, understand where the opportunities and challenges lie and where there is potential untapped brand equity that could be further leveraged – in an effort to help the brand better connect with its consumers, and create meaningful connections that can ultimately help reinforce customer loyalty.
We look at everything from the brand name/messaging, the overall look and feel, the interior experience (if working with a brick and mortar), customer service initiatives, and operational approach to truly understand all aspects of their business. Then, we create individualized checklists of things to think about that touch on all of these core elements of their brand to try to derive some of these answers at a higher-level.