SMEs can really get customer loyalty with some effort. Source: Shutterstock

SMEs can really get customer loyalty with some effort. Source: Shutterstock

Can technology help SMEs with customer loyalty?

CUSTOMER loyalty isn’t easy to get, especially in an age where e-commerce and price comparison apps have caused customers to get sensitive about price, irrespective of segmentation and product category.

Be it a new car or a cup of coffee, customers are always looking for a good deal.

Under such circumstances, it’s the SMEs that are hit the hardest, making customer retention hard. For businesses that sell subscription-based services and products, customer loyalty is incredibly important. making it incredibly important to build and nurture relationships.

In the digital era, here are four ways SMEs can use technology to do better with customers and earn their loyalty:

# 1 | CRM makes it easy to manage customers

In order to build a strong customer community, it is important to maintain a strong relationship with customers after the initial sale. Having a good knowledge of your customers is one way you can build connections, and will enable you to develop marketing strategies that target their specific needs, and therefore increase sales.

But where do you accumulate, store, and manage customer information? Enter the customer relationship management (CRM) system. By recording customer information such as preferences and dislikes, their spending patterns, location, age and gender, CRM software allows you to build a detailed portfolio of their tastes, needs, and buying habits.

From this, you can target customers with more personalized marketing messages, offers, and solutions to keep them interested in your brand. And, providing the timing is right, this could lead to more sales to the customer.

Also, by keeping track of the issues that your customers experience when using your product, you are provided with the chance to improve your product to keep other customers from leaving as well.

# 2 | Chatbots and social media can make customers feel like royalty

Customer support is perhaps the most crucial part of any business but is an aspect that many fail to get right.

If your customer is experiencing a problem, it should be easy for them to navigate the way to find a solution. This can be easy as sending a Tweet or a direct message on Facebook. Or perhaps using live-chat support on your website.

With advancements in AI technology, many businesses are incorporating chatbots into their websites and social media platforms to provide automated, 24/7 help and recommendations to customers.

With developments in digital, customers are increasing their expectations in regards to help and support from companies. Waiting 24 hours for an email response, or being left hanging on hold will lead your customers to leave.

And today, it is easier than ever for customers to voice their frustrations with a product or a service via social media. Thus, as a brand it is important to always be active and alert on social media, reaching out to any dissatisfied customers quickly.

# 3 | Reward the behaviors you like the most — especially loyalty

Generous gestures to your customers can really go far in building trust and loyalty. Research by Nielsen found that 84 percent of consumers are more likely to choose companies that offer such a program.

This need not be a costly process. A common customer loyalty rewards program used by many companies is based on point systems. Punch cards, for example, allow customers to earn a free product or service after they have made a certain amount of purchases.

Reward programs can also activate word-of-mouth marketing.

Another effective system is a rewards program where customers are encouraged to “invite a friend” in exchange for a product, service, or discount. This not only keeps your customer happy but also brings in new potential buyers.

An example of a company that has used this strategy is Dropbox.

Users who referred the platform to a friend were rewarded with 500mb of free cloud storage space. Within the first 18 months of this referral program, Dropbox received 2.8 million referral invites. An impressive 32 percent of all Dropbox user registrations come through the referral program.

# 4 | Technology makes surveys easy — use them well

Unfortunately, you just can’t keep everyone from ‘dumping’ your brand. Sometimes, despite what you offer to try to keep the customers, they will leave no matter what.

In these cases, the most important thing to remember is to understand from them where you went wrong. Sending feedback forms to users who decide to cancel a subscription will give you valuable information on how to improve.

Polls and surveys are other effective ways of understanding the needs and frustrations of your customers before they leave. They allow you to recognize customer churn before it’s too late and take action to prevent it.