This post is the second in a two part series. This post focuses on business to consumer (B2C) customer loyalty and retention. The other post deals with business to business customer retention (you can find it here). Although there are some similarities between the two, there are also some important differences.
In a B2C organization, a small number of things done very well will go a long way toward creating customer loyalty. Here are a few pointers that I have found helpful in my recent experience as CEO of an organization with a B2C product line – and from my experiences as a “professional” consumer.
- Build a “tribe.” This is one of THE most important things a B2C organization can do. Some of the most recognized B2C companies do a great job of creating a tribe – a cult of loyal followers. These companies understand that their products are more than just “stuff.” Companies that create a tribe make you feel like you’re a part of something much larger – a family, the inner circle. There are several good examples, but one of the best is Harley Davidson. When you buy a Harley, you’re not just buying iron – you’re buying “membership” into a lifestyle…
- Social media interaction. If you are B2C, social media isn’t optional – it’s mandatory. Don’t just go through the motions and check the box (“oh yeah, we’re on twitter…I think”). Market leaders recognize the power of social media and actively invest in it to engage their customers (i.e., their tribe!). They also use it for customer support/rescue and to give followers the inside scoop on new products and company happenings. Don’t “sell” with social media; use it to build the tribe and keep it fun! I’ve found it extremely powerful to have an executive presence on social media, preferably by the CEO. Yes, the CEO. In terms of tools, my current favorites are Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
- Solve issues quickly, and at the lowest level. This one is shared with my B2B post. It’s important to empower your customer service team to quickly resolve product or service issues. If you’ve really botched something, encourage your team to do something extra-special for the customer. There is no better way to turn a negative experience into a WOW experience! It also (hopefully) minimizes the potential for an issue to spin out of control. We’ve all seen what can happen in social media when companies mishandle what started out as a routine customer issue.
- Fast and easy. It’s amazing how many companies make it painful for their customers to do business with them. In the past, I have been guilty of that. Put yourself in you customers’ shoes and make it easy for them to find what they need, including often-forgotten accessories. Create a quick and easy checkout and product delivery process, and don’t spam your customer with “sales” emails every other day. Painless returns and exchanges are also important (think Zappos). In terms of a brick and mortar retail experience, Apple stores do a great job with “fast and easy.”
I could add many more, but I promised to keep it down to a handful of some of my most successful practices.
Question: What are you doing each and every day to build your tribe and keep them coming back?