12 Surefire Strategies to Increase Customer Loyalty

Lead generation is one of the most important components of any company’s marketing plan. Conducting research to find more customers and target new audiences not only keeps the business afloat, but can also push it to new heights — when done properly, of course.

customer retention

But every time you convert a new client, the fresh customer-company relationship shouldn’t be one with a time limit; it shouldn’t end once the deal is done. Because an equally important component of any marketing plan is customer retention, and turning a one-time purchaser into a repeat customer. With the right approach, the people who were once skeptical to try your product can become your biggest brand ambassadors and bring in endless referral traffic.

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out what their secrets to retaining their clients:

“What’s your best tip for increasing customer loyalty?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Always Over Deliver

“First and foremost, meet the needs of the customer, then take it up a notch and over deliver. Whether you provide deliverables ahead of schedule, throw in bonuses or surprise and delight with cool new features, continue to give more.” ~ Kelly AzevedoShe’s Got Systems

2. Ridiculously Good Customer Service

“To quote a recent customer email, “I really appreciate your thoughtful and professional response. I don’t get that a lot from customer service. Usually, it’s scripted nonsense that makes it seem like I’ve done something wrong. You’ve single-handedly improved my perception tenfold. Someone there ought to give you a pay raise.” ~ Matt Mickiewicz, 99designs

3. Treat ‘Em As You Would Want to Be

“Empower your employees to help customers the way they would want to be helped. Ditch scripts and “company policy” in favor of dialogue and intuitive problem solving. Customers want to be treated like human beings, not sales figures.” ~ Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia

4. Try Genuine Transparency

“If you screw up, be willing to openly acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. Always be real with people, and cut out the “robot act.” Show a genuine desire to improve, even if you’re already doing a good or great job in servicing them. Customers really appreciate that sort of interaction, especially when you show you understand them and actually give a darn.” ~ Matthew Ackerson, PetoVera

5. Love Them and Thank Them

“As Gary Vaynerchuk says in his book, The Thank You Economy, you need to “shock and awe” your best customers. This means actually giving a crap and rewarding them for no particular reason with thoughtful gifts. I agree 100 percent. Are you telling me the best you can do is an automated Happy Birthday email?” ~ Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com

6. Customer Loyalty Works Both Ways

“If you want customers to be loyal to you, don’t forget to be loyal to them. Focus on your core, die-hard clients. The fringe customers will come and go, but your core will stick with you through the good times and bad. Keep those customers happy at all cost. Customers reward loyalty with loyalty.” ~ Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

7. Build a Broader Relationship With Clients

“If the only times you talk to a customer is when you’re getting paid or providing support, you won’t exactly be their favorite person. Creating a broader connection makes you someone that they’ll want to seek out. Something small, like forwarding a relevant article, can be enough to create a positive association, but keep your eyes out for bigger opportunities.” ~ Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

8. Sincerity, Seriously

“Customer loyalty is, in my opinion, built and substantiated with honesty. But more than honesty, it’s really about sincerity. Clients or customers want to look into your eyes and know that you don’t just mean what you say, but you are what you say. They know that everything you do and say is a part of who you are. Because of that, they know they can trust you, and that keeps them loyal.” ~ Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

9. Send the Message Clearly

“How much would it mean to you if the founder or president of one of your vendors called you up on the phone to ask you how your business was doing, and if there was any more that they could provide for you? Don’t say you care, show you do. Pick up the phone and make it personal.” ~ Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees

10. Reward the Remaining Ones

“Make your customers feel special by rewarding them for their loyalty. A thank-you gift, access to an exclusive event, a special offer, they all go a long way. And now, there are many services that can help without requiring a major capital investment. For instance, at Merchex, we’re working with dozens of luxury merchants to identify their best customers and effortlessly reward them.” ~ Michael Tolkin, Merchant Exchange

11. Keep Their Best Interest in Mind

“I believe the best way to increase loyalty is to only offer people what they truly want and need. If someone isn’t the right fit for my company or they no longer need the services, I tell them. Coming from a place of total authenticity not only turns clients into raving fans, but also wins the hearts of people who are amazed you didn’t try to pressure them into a sale.” ~ Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

12. Educate Your Customers

“You can provide great value and consequently develop stronger loyalty with your customers by taking the time to educate them about what they need. Determine what you want to communicate and then establish a timetable for regular interactions to cover issues that should be important to them.” ~ John Berkowitz, Yodle

Loyalty Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.