05 Sep 2023
One of the key pillars of a successful business is having brand-loyal customers, built over years of providing them with quality products and services and managing their expectations.
This isn’t easy. But once accomplished, your business could survive and keep growing for many years, decades, and maybe even beyond a century.
Believe it or not, the oldest company in the world has been operating since 578 A.D., or 1445 years ago. And that’s the Japanese construction company Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd., which remains active in the industry.
And then there are those that survived more than 100 years, defying the challenges of different eras, like Coca-Cola (1892), retail giant JCPenney (1902), UPS (1775), Boeing (1917), and Kraft Foods (1903), among others.
Their longevity is clearly hard to match in today’s era, where the average lifecycle of a new business is anywhere from 12 to 15 years, according to studies.
Indeed, it makes sense to nurture your customers to make your business work, become profitable, and survive the times.
Among the key elements involved in managing your customers’ expectations and building their loyalty to your brand are crystal-clear communications for effective engagement, a personalised experience, consistency, realistic expectations, great customer service, feedback, rewards, and staying ahead.
Let’s talk about them one by one.
You set the parameters when you communicate honestly with your customers about what to expect from your products or services. As cliché as it may sound, honesty is still the best policy. So be very transparent about possible limitations or potential issues ahead when they buy your product or services. In other words, a little bit of caveat wouldn’t hurt and could, on the other hand, help nurture loyalty.
Personalising the experience can also make people loyal to the brand. Personalising the experience can also make people more loyal to a brand. Don't forget that customers are more than just numbers on the sales sheet. Treat them as people and customise their experiences as much as you can.
This can be done in a number of ways, such as by sending them personalised emails, suggestions, or deals based on their likes and purchases, which you can get from your database.
Standing true to your promise will help manage your customers’ expectations and nurture brand loyalty, which is why you need to keep your word and be sure that what you promise is achievable.
Remember: It takes years to develop a loyal customer; on the other hand, it takes one broken promise, no matter how small, to make him or her go away. Worse, the unfortunate incident may get caught up in word-of-mouth conversations, like what goes around, comes around; thus, you risk your reputation being ruined.
So, avoid hyping it up too much. Avoid making too many promises and not delivering on them because that could lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction.
After making promises, deliver them, and be consistent in doing so because this is vital to managing customer expectations. Be sure that your products or services consistently meet, or even go beyond, the quality and performance standards you have set. Consistency builds a good reputation, and along with it comes trust and loyalty from your customers.
Another key element in managing your customers’ expectations and building their loyalty is exceptional customer service: treat them like kings and queens; make them feel like family, not a stranger who has just barged in; make them feel loved; tell them small stories.
Lend an ear to what they say and respond promptly to their inquiries as well as the preferences they share. Address their concerns. Never give second thoughts to going the extra mile to exceed their expectations. Loyalty is built on lasting good impressions.
Meanwhile, continuously gather feedback from your customers to have important information on their expectations, needs, wants, and, most of all, satisfaction levels. This will equip you to pinpoint areas that need improvement and help make the necessary adjustments to better meet their expectations.
Another key pillar of a successful business enterprise is a loyalty program. Yes, reward your customers for being loyal. Reward them. Give them points and incentives so they keep coming back. Exclusive discounts, special promotions, or access to exclusive events or content are among the ways to do this. This engagement further galvanises loyalty and will encourage them to continue doing business with you.
Lastly, keep in the know and updated with the latest industry trends, the newest state-of-the-art technology, and surveys on customer preferences. Use these to stay ahead of the curve, as they say, by continuously innovating and improving your products or services. This will keep you in the lead of the competition and ready for ever-changing customer expectations.
Now that you have this covered, note that it’s all a continuing cyclical process. Remember the keywords: brand loyalty and customer expectations, as these will help you on your journey to a successful business.