Customer loyalty is an area about which professional women have a special understanding. Women being generally relationship oriented and social in nature have an inclination toward maintaining and building good relations. For more information on relationships as a factor of importance to women in the workplace, see In the Company of Women, (Heim et al.,Tarcher, 2003).
"The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer." Peter Drucker, Brainyquotes.com.
Coffee shops, hair salons, and restaurants have long used the buy one or buy some number, get one free program to much success. Hallmark Card’s customer loyalty programs have become well known for successfully driving repeat customer business in times of fast emerging competition on the Internet. New ways to build customer loyalty develop with new ways to track it as well as with the development of new kinds of technologies for product.
The best ways to create customer loyalty programs start with knowing your customer and knowing your competition. What kinds of needs are being met and can be met with a customer loyalty program?
How can your business stay apprised of its customers changing needs in order to grow customer loyalty and track it? Tracking customer behavior through purchases and web activity is also key to gaining an understanding of what your customer needs and perhaps why they return or not.
Staying on top of the information from the front line staffers through surveying them or holding meetings with them, or even focus groups, adds tremendous insight. If it is possible to single out the best and hear their opinions, the data will be all the more useful.
Customer surveys, although more costly, are highly insightful. Focus groups are good for deeper understanding of brand identity questions and the why aspect of consumer needs.
The bottom line is that it is usually more expensive to acquire new customers than repeat customers, so building customer loyalty can be a highly profitable endeavor. When a customer knows and likes your brand and believes that they can rely on it for the value they need, they seek it out, and consider the competition less favorably to begin with, simply because their experience with your brand is higher in their minds as positive.
If it is convenient or they have incentive to continue to use your brand, the chances that they will be loyal are higher. For more ideas and information on customer loyalty, see Customer Loyalty’s New Rules, by Jack and Suzy Welch, at BusinessWeek.com.
Click for a self-quiz to test how much your business values customer loyalty.
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has edited and written for consumer Web sites and publications reaching nearly 50 million people. Her credits include writing and editing online and print articles, sales and training materials, marketing collateral, and advertising and PR for conusmer companies including BeautiControl, a Tupperware subsidiary's publications to women ages 20s through 50s, the WHO Foundation, Women Helping Others, MCG Magazine, Los Angeles and Seasonal Living Guide for Sam’s Club, a retailing subsidiary of Wal-Mart. Her career also includes working and living in Canada and Japan. Jean is well regarded for her market-research based approach to managing story development enabling consistently original, relevant and timely content.