Photo: Getty Images
Building brand loyalty is one of the most critical contributors to the success of any business in today’s highly competitive market. A loyal customer base not only brings in consistent revenue but also serves as an advocate for the brand. For startups, this brand loyalty is even more important, given their need to grow quickly, reduce costs, and establish themselves.
Unfortunately, building brand loyalty is not one of those things most entrepreneurs are advised on early in their careers, resulting in a missed opportunity. Consequently, many startups struggle to gain traction and achieve long-term success. By prioritizing brand loyalty and seamless experiences early on, startups can establish a strong foundation for growth and sustainability. You can use a few of the following methods to do just that.
1. Offer Exclusive Benefits and Rewards
This might be the most well-known strategy to build brand loyalty, but unfortunately, it seems it is often not implemented — or not implemented well. I know I’ve signed up for multiple rewards programs and then just didn’t hear from the company after my initial purchase. In the long run, that’s not benefiting either party.
Offering truly exclusive benefits to loyal customers recognizes their value and gives them a reason to keep coming back. Rewards can be anything from early access to tiered loyalty programs, but they have to incentivize continuous interaction. Some startups have started to implement this strategy to build brand loyalty, but the companies leveraging technologies like web3 are especially noteworthy. Web3 brands are able to build consumer loyalty by using technology and a connected product experience.
For example, Cult & Rain — a web3 fashion company that’s only a year old — is doing this by combining an AR NFT (augmented reality non-fungible token) and an NFC (near-field communication) chipped hoodie. Combining these elements, they improve authentication. However, it also benefits resale opportunities, community engagement, and marketing efforts, impressively building brand authority in a new way. Consumers can access exclusive content, and they have a one-of-a-kind experience.
No matter which industry your startup or business is part of, implementing this strategy is possible and often effective.
2. Trust Your Community to Make Decisions
One of the best ways to help your users feel appreciated is to make them feel trusted. This can be done in many ways, but the most common is being receptive to their feedback. This could be something as simple as asking customers for their input on new product designs or as complex as involving them in the development of a new service offering. With the introduction of technologies like blockchain, founders have become even more daring when it comes to integrating their customers into the decision-making process.
One example of this would be Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) like Lifestyle DAO. Founded back in 2021, the organization operates by allowing members (token holders) to suggest changes to the rules that govern the organization. Once a change is suggested by a member of the original team, members can cast votes to approve or deny such a change. This means that the team and the community work together, proposing changes and implementing them, allowing everyone to act based on a common goal.
Of course, you don’t have to go as far as putting all decision-making in the hands of your user base by establishing a DAO model. However, making members active participants in your startup’s future will foster a sense of community and brand loyalty that few other strategies can achieve. As such, you should make sure to let them join the conversation.
3. Create Seamless Customer Experiences From Start to Finish
To build brand loyalty, it is important to help your customers avoid unpleasant experiences. You can achieve this by creating a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints. This means customers should be able to interact with your brand in a consistent and cohesive way, no matter if they are browsing your website, interacting with your social media channels, or using your products.
One way to achieve a seamless customer experience is by investing in an omnichannel marketing strategy, an expert customer service team, efficient QA testing, and the creation of an efficient sales funnel. While many founders might be intimidated by the potential cost and effort required to improve these areas, this has become easier over time because of advances in artificial intelligence and other technologies.
A great example of what a seamless customer experience can look like is Casper. The sleep startup has experienced rapid growth over the past years by allowing users to buy mattresses online without having to pay inflated prices due to intermediaries. Completing an online quiz to choose the best type of mattress, receiving it in an easy-to-handle box, and being able to easily return it after a 100-night free trial make for a great and seamless customer experience.
By focusing on your customers’ experience, you can build brand loyalty from the first interaction. This will build your brand loyalty and reputation over time, as well as provide you with important information to streamline different processes and develop new products in the long term.
Disney refers to seamless customer service as eliminating the friction
Disney concept of creating a “pay bracelet” speaks directly to eliminating friction for the customer. How will you eliminate friction? The best place to start is by asking your top performers about the customer’s experience, then monitoring the processes (required deliverables) you put into place. As your business grows, maintaining that success and constantly looking for the next friction, is critical.
Monitoring and measuring your team, especially those involved directly with your customers, is a very important element is continued growth. It also helps develop your team into advocates for your business, not just order takers.
We are here to help you grow your service culture. Give us a call, we look forward to having that conversation with you.
BY JOEL COMN AND CARL PHILLIPS