Building Customer Loyalty: A Website-Centered Approach

If building customer loyalty hasn’t been sitting at the top of your business agenda, it’s time to reevaluate things. The good news is you probably already have some enthusiastic users of your product or service. Otherwise, you’d be out of business pretty fast. Now, there are many tactics to make clients stay with you, however, in this post I’ll focus on one particular strategy, that can be implemented by most companies these days. Stay with me to learn how to build customer loyalty using your website.

A lot of companies, especially in the SME sector, rush to social media, thinking that will automatically boost sales and other scores across the board. Although they’re not wrong in going where their customers are, things are a little more complicated, as exemplified by a huge number of dead business Facebook pages.

I don’t think any business should rely solely on social media when it comes to building customer loyalty. Instead, think of ways you can attract prospects to your website, give them reasons to stay and get to know you better. Your brand should be able to host and entertain potential clients on its own terms.

Your website is your virtual premises. Would you rather talk to your customers at your office or go to a public park (Facebook), where they may be busy with other stuff and there’s a good chance you’ll be ignored?

Having a fresh-looking website containing well-structured information is necessary to leave a great first impression, no less important online than in everyday life. Next thing you want to do is develop a community of people enthusiastic about your product and provide means for them to interact with each other and yourself, especially if you’re trying to compete with similar, more established companies.

Building communities

Right, so let’s talk about communities for a minute. Artists build loyal fanbases who not only support them financially, but also discuss their work, create buzz and generally spread the word. Politicians need the electorate to buy in and follow them in order to climb the ladder. Same thing goes for businesses, a company has to build customer loyalty in order to be successful.

You won’t get very far with no steady support or having a one and done approach to serving your clients. Another thing is that these days simply offering a great product may not be enough to attract people and eventually build customer loyalty.

Delivering exceptional customer service and creating memorable experience are the new marketing. You should strive to make the people you do business with feel taken care of to turn them into brand advocates.

You have a role to play in these communities too. Making yourself available, positioning yourself as an expert by answering questions is one thing, however, providing means for discussion and bringing clients together is another step in building customer loyalty.

The role of social media

So, what about social media? Aren’t they a good enough place to build a community and develop customer loyalty?

In theory, sure, Facebook with its rather extensive functionalities might work but like I said earlier, you’re throwing a party in some else’s backyard and the competition is ready and willing to crash it anytime.

Besides, the mere numbers don’t constitute a community, that much has been proven. Take a look at what David Spinks, the director of community for Zaarly, has to say about this:

“It’s good to engage your users personally, but that’s not scalable. That’s why it’s so important to connect them with each other. By focusing on building a place where community members talk to each other, not just you, you’re on the way to building a scalable community that can sustain itself. Make sure your community finds value from their involvement — focus on building that value and your community will not only stick around, but become a huge supporter of your company.”

Getting your followers to talk to each other on Twitter is rather tricky. On Instagram, the interaction between your fans takes place mostly through text comments. On Facebook, there’s usually a time delay separating comments.

Still, social networks are an indispensable tool in any marketer’s arsenal but…

customer loyalty
customer loyalty

An alternative way to build customer loyalty

– Tell me Morpheus, I need to know!
– Alright, which pill do you want, red or blue?
– Are we really going to do this?!
– Ok, ok, go back to your website then…

Like I said before, your site is your castle. Its biggest advantage over social media in building customer loyalty is that it provides you with unlimited freedom in terms of the type and size of content you publish and that it’s distraction-free, including no competition shouting at your clients while you’re trying to grab their attention.

Earlier on in this post, I’ve also stressed the necessity to deliver great customer support and create a remarkable overall experience to make people want to be a part of the community and keep coming back.

Now, the solution I’d like to propose is a simple, yet powerful one. It’s also an under-the-radar channel when it comes to delivering customer support, as not that many companies use it. The fact is that once people try and see how well live chat works, they want to keep using it. A recent study shows that a large part of consumers expect business to be available via chat, including mobile. 3 in 4 respondents stated they’d prefer live chat to telephone conversation with an agent, with the level of satisfaction rising over 90%!

Building customer loyalty using live chat

Ok, so how exactly can you utilize live chat to build customer loyalty? What facets of customer experience can you boost? Take a look at the infographic below, as I’d like to make some points in reference to it.

loyalty rewards

Image originally posted on Zengage, The Zendesk Blog

  • Customer service – according to Zendesk’s survey, only quality trumps customer service when it comes to building customer loyalty. Live chat makes it possible for your clients to easily contact you at no cost and avoid all the hassle related to using the phone. No listening to muzak or waiting for days for an email reply. By providing live chat support, you’re showing that you value your clients’ time.
  • Constant support – a little over one-third of respondents said that round-the-clock support makes positive impact on their customer loyalty. Again, no surprise here, people want to feel taken care of when they need help. Live chat can be operated 24/7 and is a discreet means of communication that can be used anywhere, anytime.
  • First impression – it’s been confirmed time and time again that first impression counts A LOT. A prospect visiting your site for the first time will surely appreciate the opportunity to get rid of his doubts by asking your reps a couple of quick questions via live chat. According to the survey respondents, the initial interaction with a business is crucial for developing customer loyalty.

Final word

This post was intended to draw your attention to the fact that a huge part of any business’s success is building customer loyalty. Many companies push to establish foothold in as many social networking services as possible, while forgetting about what their own websites have to offer.

The idea I’ve put forward is to go back to your company website and install live chat widget, which will not only help you build a community centered around your brand but will also prove to be an excellent customer service tool.

Is live chat a magic wand that will solve all issues? Of course not. It is, however, a very practical tool supporting the process of building customer loyalty.

I’ll leave you with two quotes from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs:

“On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.”

“News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.”

What you need to remember is that in order to be successful, small companies have to outperform big dogs in customer service and support, and not try to compete in terms of the lowest price or logistics. As has been shown in the infographic, and on numerous other occasions, people put a lot of emphasis on the level of service they receive and their customer loyalty strongly depends on it.

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