In an age where competition is fierce, brands need to inspire loyalty. Driven by new and progressive ideas and channels, consumers have more power and influence than before.
The challenges of 2020 drove consumers to demand more from the brands they support, and those that don’t heed the changing needs of the consumer will be left behind.
The State of Brand Loyalty global consumer survey notes that respondents rate themselves more brand loyal in 2020 than in 2019, with figures increasing from 24% to 26.4%. Additionally, consumers show increased loyalty to their brands and are willing to spend more with them even if more cost-effective options exist, with numbers rising from 34.5% in 2019 to 56% in 2020.
Seven tips to inspire brand loyalty
Value through quality
Offering quality products is key to keeping consumers loyal, with Yotpo noting that 55.3% of consumers stay loyal to a brand because they love its products. Additionally, 51% of consumers cite poor-quality products as their reason for retracting their brand loyalty.
Brands must focus on maintaining a high standard in everything they do. Knowing consumers’ expectations and matching their offering to these, as well as maintaining a reputation of reliability on quality and service, will discourage customers from going elsewhere.
Exceptional customer service
Creating a superior brand experience is what distinguishes brands from their competitors. A 2019 report by Microsoft Dynamics 365 emphasises that brand loyalty is significantly dependent on customer service, with 95% of respondents affirming this. Creating brand loyalty is a complete cycle that begins before the sale, throughout the sales process, and for the duration of the relationship with the customer. After-sales service means that service representatives must be easily accessible, and any queries or requirements of the customer must be addressed professionally and timeously.
With social media being the most commonly used means of communication between brands and customers today, dedicated teams should be established to monitor social media platforms and promptly respond to questions or comments. This extends to acknowledging and responding to comments made about the brand, whether they are positive or negative, and creating a connection.
Cement your position as an authority
As with any relationship, trust and loyalty take time to develop. As such, brands should position themselves as approachable industry experts through powerful and engaging content, by generating a conversation and response scenario, and interacting with the customer on a human level.
Connect on a personal level
Personal communication speaks volumes and is essential in creating connections. Forbes reports that in the case of millennials, brand loyalty increases by 28% if they receive personalised communication. In addition, 95% of companies claim their ROI increased threefold in the year after they adopted a more personal approach.
Do all things with authenticity
Being authentic and transparent in all dealings with customers is key to proving that a brand is not just in business for the money, but for the betterment of the communities within which they operate. This always pays off – Oberlo claims that 86% of consumers cite authenticity as a key deciding factor in choosing and supporting brands.
Take action on feedback
Research by Microsoft notes that 77% of consumers favour brands that ask for and respond to customer feedback. Retaining customer loyalty is done through understanding needs and opinions and responding to these. And as consumers’ needs change over time, a brand’s offerings must adapt and evolve.
Apart from having an ear to the ground for online and social media customer activity, brands can carefully craft feedback forms to extract relevant and useful information from consumers. Feedback forms should be concise and simple, including fields for optional information, a rating scale, and an ‘additional comments’ section, so as to give the consumers a voice and opportunity to share their experiences. This information should then be acted on appropriately, with an implementation of changes where necessary.
Share customer stories
To truly connect with consumers, brands must show an element of humanity. Sharing a consumer’s positive experience speaks volumes about a brand to potential customers. Having an independent and unbiased customer testimonial page will ultimately inspire trust in the brand as well.
An example of sharing customer experiences is how Airbnb asks customers to collaborate and build their brand through personal experience stories. In doing so, Airbnb builds brand loyalty through consumers’ emotional attachment to the stories, which helps potential customers perceive Airbnb in a more positive light.
Janine Laubscher is senior account director for Eclipse Communications in Cape Town. Her history spans over a decade in public relations and digital brand content management. During this time, she has gained considerable experience in both the traditional and digital side of content production, PR and communications, and project management. She is a passionate individual, committed to building brands and strong connections between businesses and consumers.
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