Building Customer Loyalty in an Online World 

Maria Spanicciati

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Gladly

Read Time

7 minute read

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Companies looking to generate revenue often aim to bring in new customers. After all, the more customers you get, the more revenue you bring in—and the more revenue you bring in, the stronger your performance.

But focusing on new customers can lead you to ignore a much larger source of new revenue: repeat business from existing customers.

Loyal customers spend more money, more consistently, and keeping current customers is more cost-effective than attracting new ones. They also tell their friends and family about your business, attracting new customers without costing you a penny. Even better, loyal customers build your company’s social proof by leaving positive online reviews.

Here’s a breakdown of why loyalty is important for your company, with steps for building customer loyalty in the digital marketplace.

Building Customer Loyalty Increases Revenue

Loyalty is good for revenue—that much is intuitive. But how much exactly is loyalty worth?

Research conducted by Bain & Company and Harvard Business school found that increasing customer loyalty rates by 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%.

Studies of younger generations also reveal that loyalty is becoming increasingly important each year. A recent study, for example, found that 81% of millennials spend more once a company secures their loyalty.

Loyal customers are also your biggest advocates. According to KMPG’s 2019 customer loyalty survey, when a customer has had a great interaction with you:

  • 86% will recommend your brand to family and friends
  • 66% will write a positive online review
  • 46% will stay loyal even if a future experience is bad

In other words, building loyalty through positive customer-brand interactions is worth it.

Although it can take up to five satisfactory purchases for a customer to become loyal to a brand, that loyalty pays off, with over 60% of shoppers stating that they have been loyal to at least one brand for over 10 years.

5 Methods for Building Customer Loyalty

Now you know you want loyal customers. But how do you drive customer loyalty? The five top ways include:

  1. Ensuring an easy shopping experience
  2. Equipping your agents with the tools to offer friendly customer support
  3. Demonstrating corporate transparency and honesty
  4. Building on common values
  5. Becoming radically personal

Let’s break each of these down into actions you can take.

1. Ensure an easy shopping experience

Have you ever given up on a purchase before buying because the website was too hard to navigate or the product details were confusing?

To avoid those problems:

  • Create a clean website with strong product descriptions
  • Set up self-service so that customers can find answers to common questions
  • Make personalized customer service easily available through web chat, your social media direct messaging, email, and phone, and make sure to integrate payment options into as many channels as possible

Always make buying easy. And if you offer rewards points or discounts, make using those easy too.

2. Equip your agents with the tools to offer friendly customer support

To build loyalty, it’s also important to keep in mind that your support team is every person in your company to whom a customer might reach out. Younger customers often prefer using social media and will get frustrated if they are told that issues have to be handled on a different platform.

To make this possible, ensure that every agent has access to support tools and a clear view of the customer’s orders and conversation history. Eliminate duplicate tickets, and invest instead in a platform that consolidates communication into a single thread.

3. Demonstrate corporate honesty

Loyalty is always based on trust. After all, no one wants to buy from a pushy salesman, no matter how good a “deal” they are getting. To earn that trust, be straightforward with your pricing and give clear product descriptions.

Additionally, if you do mess something up on an order, acknowledge it and fix it quickly. Providing a quick, warm, and professional response when something goes wrong can help you build a reputation for integrity among your clients.

4. Build on common values

Finally, it’s important to connect around shared values. From climate change to Black Lives Matter, customers want to align themselves with companies that share their values.

To help your brand establish this type of connection:

  • Include your stance on key issues and your contributions to important causes in your communications
  • Link the customer’s preferred causes to their profile
  • Offer customers a way to feel involved

You can also combine rewards programs with corporate social responsibility initiatives. For example, up to 60% of millennial customers want the option to donate loyalty rewards to organizations they support. This gives you the double advantage of boosting rewards program enrollment and connecting on values.

5. Become radically personal

Loyal customers expect some loyalty and recognition in return. In fact, 48% of customers expect specialized treatment for being a regular. At the very least, they want customer service to see their order history.

Giving your agents important insights into who your customers are allows them to make customers feel valued and known.

For example, do they shop for glamour or comfort? Is it their birthday? Are they eligible for special perks? Customer service software that allows you to create customer dashboards displaying all the relevant information can make it easy for agents to recognize and affirm customers as individuals.

It’s also important to remember to thank your customers. This could be an email when they’ve earned a reward or exclusive offer, or it might be more public recognition, such as highlighting their story on social media.

Long-term Relationships are Built on Customer Loyalty

Long story short, when customers feel aligned with you based on your values and service (instead of just your products), they will keep coming back to you time and again.

Even better, they’ll spread the word about just how amazing your company is. And in an increasingly virtual world, that kind of authentic connection is just what you need to grow (and keep) a satisfied, loyal, and enthusiastic client base.