21 Proven Ways Startups Can Build Loyalty With Customers

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As a startup, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that acquiring new customers should be your biggest priority. But, while you certainly need to continue converting new customers, it’s actually your existing customers you should be focusing the most time and effort on.

Not only is selling to existing customers easier than to new customers, they are also more likely to significantly add to your bottom line.

Couple this with the fact that subscription-based services are on the rise, a model that can only survive with repeat users, and it becomes crystal clear that you want to be cultivating strong customer loyalty, not  necessarily new users.

A special thanks to our friends at Promoter.io, who provide simple survey services that help grow customer loyalty using the Net Promoter System, for sponsoring the following 21 tips to build loyalty with customers.

1. Start by building trust

To buy from you, people need to trust you. Start building trust by have a solid product that delivers and committing to open, honest communication with customers.

2. Know you have to earn loyalty

Your customers don’t owe you anything – you’re going to have to work to earn their trust and loyalty. It also won’t come overnight, so get ready to be persistent, consistent and in it for the long haul.

3. Keep your promises

Always do what you say you will do and keep your promises. Don’t give a sales pitch you can’t deliver on or announce product updates then miss the deadline. If your customers see you failing to live up to your promises, they’re going to be heading to your competitors.

4. Offer excellent customer service and support

Go above and beyond when it comes to customer service including before, during and after the sale. Tailor service to different users and provide support to make sure customers succeed. Especially for subscription-based services, you need to keep your customers happy and continually using your product.

5. Use your data

Companies have more access to detailed data and insight into their customers and their behaviors or usage patterns like never before. Take advantage of this data and use it to improve your product and users’ experiences

6. Anticipate your users’ needs

The more you can anticipate your customers’ needs and show you’re always one step ahead in supporting them, the more attached and reliant on your brand they’ll become.

7. Proactively reach out to customers

Don’t wait until there’s an issue to interact with your customers. Proactively reach out to them with target messages, offers and information to connect them more thoroughly with your brand.

8. Focus on retention

Again, focus on maintaining your existing customers and keeping them satisfied to boost loyalty and retention.

9. Ask for feedback

Let your customers know you care about their opinion by asking for feedback and then acting on it to better your business.

Promoter.io helps increase customer loyalty by focusing on asking users one simple question, “How likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”. It then tracks results and reasons for respondents’ answers giving companies actionable insight into what their customers think of them.

10. Understand actual customer behavior

Actual customer behavior and needs are very different from perceived customer behavior and needs. Don’t assume your users interact with your product or view your business in a certain way. Find out what they’re really doing and thinking before taking action.

11. Reward repeat business

Reward loyal customers and repeat business with something meaningful or useful to them, such as a discount off your product or chance to upgrade for a reduced rate.

12. Make sure your first customers are successful

Your startup’s first customers are its most important – they’re taking a chance on you without knowing for sure that you can deliver.

Do all you can to make sure they’re successful and have a positive experience with your company and product. They have the potential to turn into your biggest advocates and brand ambassadors.

13. Streamline your user experience

Make your product or service so simple and enjoyable to use that your customers never want to stop.

14. Be available and responsive

If you want to build trust and rapport with your users, you need to be available for contact. Let customers know how they can contact you through different channels and always respond quickly and appropriately.

15. Give your customers a voice

Ask for their opinions and feedback, give them the opportunity to connect with other users, and listen to their concerns or complaints. Everyone wants to feel like they’re being heard and having their needs met.

16. Show social proof

Highlight testimonials, positive comments and reviews on your website and social media to show your successful track record.

17. Promote your customers

Showcase your most important users or impressive case studies to not only provide social proof, but also stoke your customers’ ego and help share their success stories.

18. Own up to mistakes

If there is a problem or mistake, own up to it, apologize, and fix it immediately. People often have a huge capacity to forgive, but they don’t take it well if they think an issue has been mishandled or, worse, covered up. Though it may feel counterintuitive, admitting to your mistakes can actually help build up trust.

19. Prove your appreciation

Find ways to show your customer appreciation through promotions, personalized messages and more. Whatever it is, just be sure your customers know you’re thinking about and appreciate them.

20. Connect on social media

Sharing different aspects of your company on social media can help customers connect to your brand on a more personal level. Open up and interact.

21. Exceed expectations

Sometimes meeting expectations just isn’t enough in a competitive market. However, if you regularly raise the bar and exceed your customers’ expectations, they’ll be sure to stick by your side.

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