Build Enduring Customer Loyalty, Channel by Channel

Build Enduring Customer Loyalty, Channel by Channel

By Greg Zakowicz, senior commerce marketing analyst at Bronto


In short: 

  • Brick-and-mortar stores are no longer the only places where customers interact with retailers. Today, you’ve got to make every interaction--online, in-store, over the phone and beyond--a building block of brand loyalty.

  • To determine your efficiency at loyalty-building, analyze six channels through which you interact with your customers: website, email, customer service lines, stores, social media and the shipped product.

  • Ask the targeted questions below to pinpoint spots for improvement, then don’t hesitate to make changes.



What makes a customer choose to do business with a retailer for the first time? And once they do, what makes them loyal to that brand?

It’s likely not one single factor. Consumers are now mega-connected. They can shop, socialize, read the news, order a pizza or hail a ride with just their finger and a smartphone. And as their behavior changes, so does e-commerce. Barriers to global commerce are eroding, creating even more choice for shoppers.

These trends toward immediacy, convenience and immense selection cause consumers to expect more from retailers.

Single-touch interactions are a thing of the past, so make each touch positive.


Consumers interact with brands across many channels (referred to as omnichannel). They might see a product on Instagram, view it in-store, cart it on their phone and purchase it on their laptop. For the consumer, these interactions combine to create a singular experience. Thus, each of them matters. 

Your company website, marketing emails, social media, customer service phone line, brick-and-mortar stores, mobile app and shipping boxes all provide interactions that carry the power to create or undercut loyalty. Examine the user end of these interactions to determine whether you’re doing your best to influence a first-time or repeat purchase and build brand loyalty.

Here’s a breakdown of which channels to examine and helpful questions to ask yourself.


Website

In order to build loyalty, your site must offer guidance to the user. If not, it’s the equivalent of a waiter who hasn’t tried anything on the menu. 

  • Does your site load quickly? 

  • Is it easy to navigate on a phone? 

  • Do searches return accurate results? 

  • Are product recommendations tailored to the customer by taking in data from sources like email activity and purchase and browse history? 

  • Does your site offer customer reviews?


Email

When users subscribe to your email program, they expect not generic messaging but helpful emails with information that supplements what they can already find on your site.  

  • Is your email welcome series targeted to the consumer? Think of your welcome series as a personalized “onboarding tool” that introduces your brand, engages the subscriber and builds confidence. 

  • Are your emails personalized to each subscriber? Analyze the source of their signup and click activity within the emails themselves: Did the user subscribe from your brand’s maternity page or the men’s clothing page? This action should dictate the types of emails each subscriber receives.

  • Do you tuck product recommendations into each email? Are your cart and browse abandonment emails providing content that’s relevant to the individual shopper? 


Customer service

Find a way that your customer service differs from your competitors’. Then, double down on it.

  • Do you add value to the shopping experience with offers like free shipping or free returns? If so, how do they compare to those of your competitors?

  • What are your 24/7 tools like? Do you have live chat, a 24/7 phone line or resource videos to guide customers around your site or product?

  • Have you called your own customer service line to see how qualitatively helpful and knowledgeable they are?


Brick-and-mortar stores

For omnichannel retailers, the in-store interaction is a rare opportunity to connect with consumers face-to-face.

  • What would make a shopper want to visit your store versus shop online?

  • Is your staff well-trained to guide shoppers? 

  • Is technology involved? Consider virtual dressing rooms or equipping your associates with tablets to up the ante.

  • If a product is out of stock in the store, how does it get to a customer’s house? Find ways to make that seamless.


Social media

Most consumers have social media integrated into their lives. It’s a bridge to both connect with your current customers and find new ones. 

  • Are you proactively posting on social media (i.e. posting photos that count down to your online sale), or is it strictly reactionary (i.e. posting after the sale has already begun)?

  • What value do your social platforms give followers? Do you post discount codes, exclusive new product announcements, etc.?

  • Are you encouraging followers to share with you? 

  • Are you using the comments and “likes” you get on social media to further customize your website and emails to your audience?


The post-sale experience

Purchasing a product is far from the end of a customer journey. In fact, if returns are involved, it may be just the beginning. Your brand’s efficiency in delivery and treatment of dissatisfied customers is a loyalty breaker or maker.

  • As customers move through your purchase process, are there any obvious hiccups? How does your process stack up against your competition’s? Make purchases on your own site and on your competitors’, then compare the user experience.

  • Do your items arrive quickly?

  • Are they packaged nicely? Is there a friendly note inside?

  • Are return instructions clear, and is the process easy?

  • How do your emails look after a customer has purchased an item? Is your messaging tailored to their purchase history, and do you recommend more items of the same kind?


Once you’ve surveyed the above, don’t delay in making changes. You want your customer to feel good about about buying from you. Providing a relevant and frictionless experience is critical to building loyalty.

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