Want to improve customer loyalty? Start with customer experience.

The customer profile has changed in recent years, and so has the customer loyalty strategy. It’s becoming a harder target to achieve, with more consumer’s valuing quick and efficient transactions, less face time, and streamlined solutions. That’s why its time to overhaul the customer loyalty strategy, focusing on optimizing the customer experience as the best way to create brand loyalty.

Why Customer Experience? – It’s predicted that by 2020 customer experience will replace price as a key indictor of consumer satisfaction. Customer experience is the interaction the consumer has with all touchpoints of your business. When the experience is ideal, a customer feels emotionally connected to the company and is willing to share how they feel about the brand with others. The outcome of a good customer experience is brand loyalty. But loyalty isn’t achieved unless the customer experience is put first. Here are 4 ways to enhance the customer experience and build brand loyalty.

1.       Investing in Mobile Technology—Technology can be a catalyst for improving customer experience and increasing customer loyalty. For example, mobile payments can make the buying experience easier and more convenient, appealing to customers who want streamlined services. The use of mobile technology in restaurants is rising, and many customers expect it will be the main form of payments within the next five years. This technology also gives companies access to far more data about customers than they’d previously had, allowing businesses to customize their strategies and loyalty efforts.

2.       Boosting Social Media Use—Social media offers a huge opportunity for businesses to connect with customers and build their network. It’s estimated that 74% of consumers encourage friends to try new brands because of social media. When customers can share, like, tweet, and comment on a brand, it imbues trust and a bond with the product. To get consumers to interact online on a regular basis, consider offering awards and benefits to boost brand loyalty. Don’t forget to follow up on customer’s posts as well. Social media is a two-way street and it’s important to spend time building relationships to foster loyalty.

3.       Creating quality content—The landscape of content marketing is changing, thanks in large part to the millennial consumer. This group of consumers are major brand influencers and capturing this audience’s loyalty is a strategic boon for companies. Nearly two-thirds of millennials surveyed said that quality online content drives their loyalty to a brand. The key here is quality. Content that misses the mark is just as likely to turn them away from a product or company. This means forgetting the old rules about volume and SEO loading. Content that is too long, too gimmicky, or not tailored to the cultural concerns of the target audience is not contributing to your brand. Ultimately the goal of content is to inform customers about topics that matter in a language they understand and relate to.

4.       Implementing New Kinds of Loyalty Programs—The name says it all: loyalty programs should spark loyalty. However, focusing solely on financial or transactional rewards for the customer is a missed opportunity. Emotion-driven campaigns are proving more effective than financial campaigns.  As a result, loyalty programs now shifting their target and offering customers more experiential rewards. For instance, a company might award you exclusive access to an event with the purchase of item. Another business might tap into customers’ altruistic sensibilities and donate an additional product to charity after the initial purchase. If the programs can emotionally engage with the customer, they will be more effective at building loyalty and creating a relationship between the customer and the brand.

Brand loyalty is a goal that goes above and beyond customer retention. It means making a connection and building a relationship with customers that will have them going out of their way to select a certain product. It means valuing the consumers’ needs, creating exceptional customer experiences, and making an emotional connection.

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