The difference between owning a business and having a successful business boils down to one key concept that is so important, I can’t talk about it enough: customer loyalty. It’s not enough to just get someone to walk through your doors or visit your website once; to have a successful business, you need that customer to keep coming back, purchase multiple products/services and ultimately, tell others about you too. So, how do you create that level of customer loyalty in your own business? Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction:

(1) Culture is Key
What do companies like Harley Davidson, Apple and Fender all have in common? They all have strong, unique identities tied to their businesses that extend beyond the type of products or services that they sell. And people will exclusively purchase their products (and repeatedly purchase their products!) in large part because they want to be a part of that culture. So, to re-create some of that uber-customer loyalty in your own business, think about the type of customer that would purchase your products/services and how you can create a cultural identity that would appeal to that specific customer. For example, you can host live events, special offers or online forum communities targeted towards the sensibilities of your ideal customer base. That will really help foster a sense of community and loyalty towards your business.

(2) Always Over-deliver
We’ve all heard the phrase “Showing up is half the battle”. And while that may be true with regard to making a single sale, to generate real customer loyalty for your business, you’ll have to do more than just show up. Things like promptly returning phone calls/emails, delivering on your promises and meeting deadlines may seem simple, but by just doing those little things, you can separate your business from a lot of the others. But, take it a step further and “over-deliver”. This can be done with genuine, non-business related follow-ups, thoughtful referrals, congratulatory social media shout-outs for your customers’ personal achievements/milestones, hand-written notes and heartfelt gifts, which will really help generate a higher level of trust with your company. This trust is key for creating customer loyalty.

(3) Stand Out with Customer Service
With so much competition at every turn, having exceptional customer service can really help generate loyalty with your customers. Customers have so many choices for everything, so with everything else being equal, customer service is where your business can really stand out. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes; where you would rather shop- the store where the staff is cranky, ignores you or answers your questions with a bad attitude or the store where you are welcomed with a friendly greeting, your name and order are remembered or your questions are happily answered? Even the way that your business handles customer issues or complaints can spark customer loyalty. Going above and beyond expectations when resolving issues can turn an angry customer into a loyal customer for life.

These are just a few ways to help generate customer loyalty for your business. What other tips do you have? Please share them below.

Thanks to Tina Nies of Be Happier Today, Erik Pelton of Erik M Pelton & Associates, Caryn Starr-Gates of StarrGates Business Communications, Ryan Critchett of Imarketinghacked and Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of BBR Marketing for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.