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This is it!

It used to be pretty easy to build loyalty. Give  customers rewards, promotions and points and you’d  own them. Not so much anymore.

For years the airlines built loyalty using frequent flyer programs. One might argue that they don’t really reward passengers for loyalty, they reward them for airline segments. It might be smarter to reward customers based on the amount of money they spend, if airlines did, they would know who’s really profitable. The way it is now, no one feels very special and it doesn’t matter how much you spend. With free seats being an “endangered species” loyalty is really tough.

These days everyone gives points  including the Goodwill Store. Because everyone gives points,  no one  really stands out.

With the multi–dimensional digital world, customers are fragmented in many more places,  and they’re not so easy to find. The Internet gives customers lots of places to  hang out and hide.

Once you find them, what do you do to  build loyalty? You build communities.

Social media is on your side but most businesses need to step up their game. A few Facebook posts,  a Tweet now and then and a blog written in 2008 won’t do it. How about a look at Google + pages?

Communities show customers “love.”

The key to building loyalty is building  customer intimacy. To do this you must be  consistent with your social media and involving yourself in your customer’s lives. Playing  games with customers is one way to engage but are you really getting to know them by playing Farmville? The other problem is that many of you are really “psycho” about how much time your staff spend on line. I would say, “get over it” and give your staff the right on line tools.

Those that spend time building their online customer connections will win customer loyalty. (By the way, the link is to FedEx.)

Why not create your own community and your own game? Everyone won’t play but the ones that do play are definitely fans. Once you’ve engaged them, you can connect.

Give your customers a platform to connect to you.

Customer Review Survey 2012 show a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews. Customer surveyed said they trust online review as much as personal recommendations while 52% that positive online reviews make them ore likely to use a local business. Customers trust other customer opinions. Ask yourself, what are we doing to get online customer reviews?

Make customers delighted.

Bad service can inflict more damages that ever. Customers receiving  bad service used to  tell their friends, now they tell the world. Studies suggest that only about 6% of dissatisfied customers actually complain which means businesses don’t know who’s unhappy.

Know who’s complaining and why. Customer service seems to be something that businesses call a “cost” and it’s something they would rather not do. Businesses don’t see a connection between customer service and the bottom.

Can you get it to your customers instantly?

  I can get all kinds of answers on my I Phone. I can find the nearest restaurant,  a movie, or  how far I have to walk to the gas station. I can find  or bellman or neighborhood know-it-all to tell me the name of the best restaurants.Actually my favorite apps are Tunein Radio, where I can listen to any station in the world and iTriage. ITriage helped one afternoon when my next door neighbor’s little girl was burned. It found the nearest “burn” hot line which really help us out.

Build your own online community.

Get busy building a community with  Google+ Pages. Google + Pages will allow you to create a page about your brand and your business. Check out Google + Pages for business and how you can connect. Google + also has a little known feature called “Ripples. ” Ripples is a analytic tool which will help you know who’s sharing your content. Here is a video on Ripples.

Check out Google Circles for community building.

This link will explain how Google + Pages will help your  Search Engine Optimization. What could be better than hanging out with Google?

Lisbeth Calandrino works with businesses showing them how to build loyal relationships. She does this through Social Media Marketing and Customer Service/ Sales Training . To have her speak at your business, she can be reached through Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518.495.5380.

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