by Joel R. Evans and Barry Berman

In this post, we resume our discussion about gaining more loyalty and patronage from current customers. The focus is on communicating with ongoing customers. Our assumption for today is that your business has started to develop a customer database and that you are also now at least thinking about enacting a frequent-shopper program. 

There are several basic issues that should be considered in better preparing to communicate with current customers:

  •  What topics/themes should be covered?

During the year, there should be a combination of “image” and “product/event” oriented messages; yet, the two messages do not have to be presented together. Image messages are broad and intended to portray positive company traits to customers (such as the number of years a firm has been in business, the family-owned nature of a business, the emphasis on customer services and a friendly sales staff, the quality of products sold, etc.) These messages are long term in emphasis and geared to making customers feel good about the firm. Product/event messages are more specific (such as the introduction of a new product, a special sale, holiday shopping, etc.). The purpose is to get short-term business. Frequent-shopper programs are both image and product-/event-oriented.

  • What audience should be addressed?

By examining the firm’s customer database, people may be divided into five categories: regular, heavy shoppers; regular, light shoppers; infrequent, heavy shoppers (those who seldom shop with you, but who spend a lot when they do); infrequent, light shoppers; and former shoppers (people who once shopped with you, but who have not done so in at least sixth months or a year). Different communications approaches should be tried with each of these groups.

  • What medium should be used to communicate?

Personalized communications should predominate. Therefore, E-mail with each shopper’s name (and not with “Dear sir or  madam”) and telephone calls should be the media most used. Because E-mails are less costly and can reach a large group quickly, they are often the preferred medium for communicating with current customers. However, if a firm wants to show greater interest in its regular, heavy shoppers or to try to recapture some former customers, phone calls better indicate to people how customer-oriented a firm really is.

  • How often should communications with current customers be conducted?

E-mails should be sent at least monthly. If possible, a phone call just to keep in touch with customers (not to sell anything) should be made at least once or twice a year. As we have noted before, customers are often impressed when they receive friendly rather than just sales-oriented E-mails and calls; they like to feel appreciated. Obviously, product/theme communications should be sent at appropriate times during the year.

  • What should be the mix of communications targeted at current versus new customers?

The typical small firm, as well as some larger ones, allot very little (or nothing) from their promotional budgets for communicating with just their current customers. They either spend all of their budgets on attracting new customers or, more often, they use the same messages for both current and new customers. Our recommendation is for firms to spend a minimum of 15-20 percent of their promotional budgets on messages targeted exclusively to current customers.


18 Replies to “Better Communicating with Loyal Customers”

  1. I agree with the article that companies should spend more of their budget trying to retain business.
    Some companies are very structured and have a Retention Department to follow up with house accounts.
    On the other hand my company does not, and if you make commission only based on new customers, as a Sales Representative you are more interested in New business and not so much to retain old customers.

  2. I am a Sales Associate at Bloomingdales and each of us have “Client Books”. These clients are people we feel we have built a good connection with and they continue to shop specifically with us. Whenever a new product enters the store that we feel they may like, we are supposed to email them or give them a call to let them know. When we have sales going on throughout the store, we are also supposed to give them a call to inform them about our upcoming sale. Bloomingdales itself sends out many different emails (sometimes I think too many), but we are constantly trying to connect with the customer, keep regulars coming back, and new ones entering the store. Our reward program keeps customers shopping with us and looking forward to the “free money” they will be receiving after they get a certain number of points on their Bloomingdales Loyalist card.

  3. It is true that loyal customers are easier to communicate with because they understand the companies mission. Loyal customers are long term customers that keep coming back unlike short term ones. I agree that emailing your loyal customers by adding their name adds value rather than just saying dear sir. This shows that the company cares about their customers and makes the customer feel special. This is all part of retaining a loyal customer. I would argue constant emailing can get annoying but for the companies that I shop at most even the constant emails do not seem to phase me, this is what makes communicating with loyal customers so easy, it’s the fact that they enjoy the company and are not stressed out by constant reminders.

  4. There no doubt that the more loyal customers are a lot easier to communicate with rather than the more difficult ones. I used to work retail in a pool store and you can put together an opinion of the customer you’re about to help right when they walk into the store. You help the more loyal customers in such a different fashion just because they are so much nicer and can be helped with more ease. Always keep your loyal customers in mind and they should be a priority and they should know that via the emails you send and/or coupons as well. But as stated in other articles, never give up on the more difficult customers, you should try and change their opinions and make them a loyal customer.

  5. I think the way to communicate with your loyal customers is to let them know they are loyal customers. How to become a loyal customer? We should have a level and requirements. For example, if you shop three times in this company, you will be my company’s loyal customer and enjoy different discounts and events. Customer should clear that they are different. Then they will buy your products more and more times. Secondly, different people likes different ways. For me, I do not like emails. I think I only receive work mail and will check my mailbox. Maybe I am a traditional person. May be my way will be changed. But I think most of elder person than me will not like to check discounts. They will go into your company and pick up a coupon book to see what should buy today. So company should do a survey to know which way is best for the loyal customer or not send all of them emails.But I have to see email is the most efficient way for most of people. If company is too small,it can focus on small population and use person to person way to communicate with their loyal customer.

  6. A problem that I could see arising is customers ignoring emails, mistaking them for spam or simply not being interested, or phone calls, which they might not to waste time answering. Speaking from a personal perspective, mail might be a better way to get their attention.

  7. Sometimes I’ve noticed that business forget about their loyal costumers. There always trying to get new consumers to try out their service or product. What some businesses don’t realize is that your loyal consumers act as marketers for your business. Loyal costumers are the ones that tell their friends about your service and product and speak highly of it. By doing this, you will indirectly get more consumers at your store based on your loyal consumers recommendations.

  8. It is general knowledge that a company must appeal to its customers, but the in-depth analysis of each customer is noteworthy. There are different methods of reaching different customers because not all consumers are the same. A company will not contact an infrequent light shopper the same way as a regular heavy shopper. The most effective strategy is a tailored one and not a,”one- size fits all” method of communication.

  9. Each customer is important and brands need to show their appreciate but in the correct way. When companies spam, people with emails they don’t find that appealing and it turns them, off even if in reality the emails are helpful. There needs to be a way for companies to reach out to these consumers and show their appreciation without overdoing it and annoying the customer.

  10. I found this blog post to be very informative. Finding that certain target audience is what drives consumers to constantly visit your website and social media accounts. Advertising, marketing, and just promoting your product to the public is only the very first step. From personal experience, I am the social media director at a company called Tennis to the Max. Finding that exact consumer has been a constant challenge but when you do find those consumers, those fans become your key to success.

  11. I think there’s definitely a fine line with how much is too much when communicating with loyal customers. I work for Admissions at Hofstra and we see this a lot. The really loyal/excited “customers” (students) are easier to communicate with, but there’s also a lot of letters, fliers, and emails sent. Doing this too much can bother students, and I think this goes for all companies/forms of companies.

  12. I agree with the article that companies need to focus on maintaining consumer loyalty. However, it can be tricky because customers do not want to be spammed by companies asking how there experience was. I believe a better way would be to send the customer a coupon via email or text to get their attention.

  13. The loyal customers are the resources that a company can use to gain profits. I think if the company wants to have a better communication with its loyal customers, the company must show their best to their loyal customers, not only the products, but also the services. The company should let its loyal customers feel like they are your loyal customers, the company cares what I feel. For example, when the company introduces its new products or new services, they should notify its loyal customers in the first time, and the company had better give them some convenient to experience its latest products or services. E-mail can be sent to the customers, but general e-mails are not often seen by the customers. The company need to pay attention on e-mails that the e-mails can be felt like they are written exclusive for its loyal customers. There is no doubt that every company need to spend at least 15-20% of their promotional budgets to cultivate customer relationships. This investment is worth.

  14. I am totally agree with your post. I believe some times keeping the loyal customers is more important to attracting the new customers, because the loyal customers, almost by definition, will purchase your goods or services again and again over time, and may introduce your products to their friends, it is a valuable wealth for the company.

  15. I think this article is very useful for marketers who do E-mail marketing. Communicating with current customers via email is very important to increase repeat customers and improve sales. And marketers should fully use customers database to divide customers into category. Different communications approaches should be tried with each of these groups.In addition, I think we all agree with that Personalized emails are more attractive. When I received a email from a E-commerce company, if it include my name, my shopping history information and some related products recommendations, I would more likely to go back to shop on this site. Because this method makes company more customer-cenric.

  16. Companies alway make this mistake, using the same way dealing with the current customers and new customers. This article just tells that that is a inefficient way on marketing. Because current and new customers have many difference on the preference and customer behavior and companies also have the different expectation from the new customer and current customers. How to choose the media , what message should be delivered , all these aspects should be taken into the consideration. Although it takes more effort for the companies , but it is really an effective approach ,which can save the time and resource for the companies.

  17. Loyal customer is a big fortune for every business. The cost of catching new customer is far more than maintaining a existance customer. The idea of better communication with loyal customer is not a fresh topic. Business use soecial discount, coupon, points to rewards to keep cusumoers loyalty. This blog give us a very clear and effective instruction of how to consider maitaining loyal customer– from databased catergery to the content of email. It’s realy useful in the practice.

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