How to create and reward loyal customers.

written by Sarah Colgate

Business Tips for 2024 | Helpful tips for tourism operators

November 3, 2023

Building a loyal customer base is crucial for the long-term success of your business.

Loyal customers have been proven to provide your business with better revenue, less expenses and are significantly easier to work with than new customers. Here are some strategies I use to encourage repeat customers, give them a try in your business.

Provide exceptional customer service

This is pretty obvious and very important. Deliver outstanding service consistently to create a memorable experience for your customers. Customers remember when you made them feel good, greeted them warmly and met or exceeded their needs. 

I suggest you train your staff to be attentive, friendly, and responsive to your customers’ needs. Anticipate their questions, concerns and preferences. Where possible give your team permission to go the extra mile to exceed the customers expectations.

Even consider setting up customer service training and some guidelines for your team on what level of service you want your team to deliver.

All industries have customised training  like QTIC have for the Tourism industry here in Queensland.

Personalise the customer’s experience.

Tailor your products and services to the individual preferences of your customers. When you have repeat customers collect and maintain their data, including their preferences, special occasions, and previous purchases. Use this information to provide you with an opportunity to understand your customer and personalise products and services. 

Good hotels like Sofitel Broadbeach have been doing this for years. When they ask you questions on check in they record that information to customise the guest experience. When a hotel knows its guests they will personalise room amenities, room style preferences, pillow preferences and are able to deliver special surprises during their stay.

In your business, look at ways you can personalise or customise the customers experience so they feel like they belong, they are valued and they matter to you. 

Implement a loyalty program.

I don’t know about you but I have a drawer full of loyalty cards. They are now on the Stocard app on my phone and I religiously scan them every time I make a purchase. Only about 10 of them I actually see any value in and of course they are the ones I use the most and those stores are the ones I frequent the most. 

Before you create a loyalty program to reward repeat customers, consider how you like to be rewarded. What benefits drive you to revisit the same businesses over and over again. 

Loyalty programs need to fit your business and the needs of your customers. Look at what incentives such as discounts, free product upgrades, complimentary services, or exclusive access to special events. Make the program easily accessible and communicate its benefits to your customers on a regular basis.

Stay in touch through email marketing.

The best and most cost effective way to maintain regular communication with your customers is through email marketing. When you communicate with your customers via email, ensure you have their permission. That is so important today and will reflect how much you respect your customers.

When you do email ensure it’s branded, personalised and included special offers, exclusive promotions, information that will be valuable to your customers and updates about your business. Keep customers informed about upcoming events, changes, renovations, or new amenities that may entice them to return to your business.

Offer exclusive perks and packages.

We all feel valued when we get something exclusive and valuable. A great way to do that is to create exclusive perks and packages specifically for returning customers. This could include discounted rates, complimentary services, or unique experiences available only to repeat customers. Highlight these offerings on your website, social media, and email communications.

An example is a local hairdresser. Kat had been so busy doing her clients hair she was not focused on her future bookings. She realised coming into winter holidays her bookings were soft. On further inspection and after calling a few of her regulars she became aware many of her customers were travelling overseas during this time. 

In order to get some business in before that holiday period she emailed her customers offering them a free branded travel shampoo and conditioner. In one afternoon she picked up 20 new appointments. Knowing your customers is essential to providing great offers that actually work.

Engage on social media.

Maintain an active presence on social media platforms to stay connected with your customers. If you have a physical business, have a sign up with the QR code for customers to scan and follow your social media accounts. 

Once the customer is following your business, make them feel valued by responding to their comments, messages, and reviews promptly. 

Also share content that showcases the experiences of returning customers to foster a sense of community and encourage others to revisit. Ask customers on social media what they want from you in regards to information. You can also use social media to survey your customers. All very valuable data collection tools. 

Gather feedback and act upon it.

Request feedback from your guests after their visit, purchase or stay to understand their experience better. Use surveys, online reviews, or direct conversations to collect their input. 

Look at where and how you’re storing this information so it’s easy to access. If you don’t have one, get an app or CRM style software so you can store information. Then you can analyse the feedback they have provided, address any issues, and make improvements based on their suggestions. 

Demonstrating that you value their opinions helps foster loyalty. If you are making changes or improvements to your business based on customer feedback let customers know. They will value your openness and transparency, they are more likely to provide feedback in the future. 

Great free tools for gathering feedback include Jotform and Google Forms

Create special events and packages

Organise special events or packages that cater to the interests of your target market. This could include wine tastings, cooking classes, information sessions, wellness retreats, or local cultural experiences. Promote these events to previous guests and offer them priority access or special discounts.

A great way to promote these are on social media and google by setting up events online and inviting customers.

Maintain a consistent brand experience

Ensure that the experience customers receive matches the promises made in your marketing efforts. Consistency across all touchpoints, from the website to the in person purchase process to the quality of amenities, helps build trust and encourages customers to return.

I suggest you have a mystery shopper come through your business at least once a year to experience the customer journey, outline any issues and improvements that may need to be made. It is money well spent and the information they provide will benefit you, your team and your customers. 

Offer flexible purchase options

Provide flexible purchase policies and options for returning customers. This could include the ability to modify or cancel bookings and purchases without penalties. Prioritise returning customers by offering them the most popular appointment time slots that are in high demand. Or maybe you open up early once a month for returning customers only. Flexibility demonstrates your commitment to accommodating your customers’ needs.

Conclusion

Building a loyal customer base can be straightforward when you implement these strategies. In addition these strategies will help you reward your customers for the long term. If you notice changes in your customer base, pick up the phone and ask some questions of your customers and your frontline team members so you can address issues and continue building a strong bond with your customers to encourage their loyalty, and increase the likelihood of repeat business.

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