A Guide to Building Customer Loyalty

12/08/2018 18:00 | Start a business

How to build customer loyalty for your franchise

All businesses, no matter their size nor the industry they operate in, can afford to ignore the issue of customer loyalty. If a franchise isn't getting repeat customers, it has to attract new customers repeatedly. This is not only expensive, but it's also unsustainable. Here, we take a look at eight ways you can encourage greater customer loyalty.

Keep in touch

The modern marketplace is dominated and defined by one quality choice. If a customer doesnt like a product or isnt happy with the level of customer service offered, they can shop with a different business. The level of choice available to consumers also means that its a constant battle to remain at the forefront of customers minds.

If franchise brands dont have regular contact with their clients, it's easier than ever to get lost amongst the mass of competitors. This means that businesses need to implement a marketing and communications policy that ensures regular contact with their customers. Be it email newsletters, leaflets, reminder cards, or a follow-up phone call, it's essential to keep in touch with your customers if you want to ensure brand loyalty.

Promote loyalty throughout the franchise

Its going to be extremely difficult to build customer loyalty if your franchise doesn't foster a culture of loyalty internally. Employees need to be loyal to the franchise, and the franchise management needs to ensure that it demonstrates its commitment to employees in return. Instilling critical attributes in your staff is much easier if they experience the benefits of such qualities first hand. Likewise, customers are much more likely to show loyalty to a business if they can see that a business employees are loyal to the franchise and its management team.

Provide proper training

Its surprising how little some businesses focus on customer service training. However, most profitable franchise companies invest a great deal in providing their employees with high-quality customer service training because it's considered an investment. Better trained employees make more money for their managers. Its as simple as that.

Organising this type of training can be challenging. It's easy to fall into the trap of training for training's sake. All franchises need to make sure that their training programmes are focused, goal-orientated, and engaging. A dull training scheme can actually be more damaging than no training at all. When employees switch off because of boredom, the material being taught is tainted by association. Though you may say all the right things, if theyre not said in the right way, many employees will conclude that vital lessons are a waste of time, unimportant, and irrelevant.

Reward customer loyalty

If you want to encourage customer loyalty, it's a good idea to reward those customers who show it. The wisdom of such a move is supported by the array of loyalty schemes operated by the vast majority of successful businesses. A reward scheme doesnt have to be costly, nor does it have to involve handing out freebies. Franchise owners could offer a loyalty card, or they could provide customers with money-off vouchers for repeat custom or referrals. You could offer customers a free additional service, such as gift wrapping, or you could partner with other companies to offer discounts across a network of different businesses.

Be reliable

Loyalty, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is the act of giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution. The key word in this definition is constant. Customer loyalty entails the client returning time and time again to purchase goods and services.

To guarantee this loyalty, the best franchise business will ensure that their standard of service is constant. In other words, it will be reliable. The customer will know that they can walk into one of your franchise units and they'll receive the same high-quality customer service, no matter what day of the week it is, which staff members are working, or what type of product they're looking for.

The customer is usually right

The old saying that the customer is always right, is an obvious clich, but it does ring true. While anyone thats ever worked in a customer-facing role will know that the customer isnt actually always right, and can often be very wrong, businesses need to be flexible in their approach to customer queries and criticisms. A computer says no approach is not going to encourage customer loyalty. Staff members who go out of their way to help customers even though the request may be difficult to fulfil or may not be typical company policy is likely to make a customer-for-life.

Be people-people

A large percentage of human interactions are now moderated or facilitated by technology. Whether it's mobile phone messaging, complex, digital POS systems, or waiting staff taking orders on iPads, technology often gets in the way. If you want to reach customers and encourage greater customer loyalty, it's vital to ensure that your staff are people-people. By this, we mean that staff need to be able communicators, personable, and willing to engage. Rather than hiding behind technology, they need to use it to facilitate better discourse and customer engagement.

Get to know your regulars

Finally, its important to recognise the fact that businesses of all shapes and sizes depend on being able to satisfy their regulars. Fickle customers come and go, but your regulars are the individuals who will keep cash flowing through your business during the good times and the bad. Franchises need to foster relationships with regulars, getting to know them on a personal basis, where possible. At the very least, knowing customers names and shopping preferences will help clients feel welcome, wanted, and appreciated.

Conclusion
While the eight tips listed above will help you foster improved customer loyalty, its also important to remember that customers need something to be loyal to. A business isnt enough on its own. It requires an identity. It requires a carefully considered brand. Having implemented our advice, if youre still struggling with customer loyalty, you may want to consider the idea that your branding isnt sufficiently developed.

 

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