What are the most important elements in building customer loyalty?

I've learnt that retaining existing customers is just as (if not more) important than pursuing new ones, but what do you consider are the most important elements in building customer loyalty?

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

I believe that some of the most basic building blocks of customer loyalty are honesty, transparency and timely communication.

It only takes one mishandled bad experience (notice the word mishandled) for a long time customer become a so long customer. One bad experience doesn't mean a good customer will leave, but how you handle that bad experience could drive them out the door. If user data was compromised send a communication, that explicitly lists what information, when it was accessed and how you resolved (or are resolving the situation). That is also a good time to offer a discount, special sale or complimentary identity theft protection.

Customers want to know you are also listening to their feedback. You should communicate your appreciation for their feedback and let them know when customer feedback has been implemented (even if it wasn't theirs). That will drive home the point that you are listening to your customers.

Actively involve your customers in what you are doing. Have a contest to let customers send in photos of them using your product or service then have your team (or your customers vote for the winner). Make your content easily shareable on social media and other outlets. You want your loyal customers to spread your message if they are passionate about it.

I am only scratching the surface here. Think about what you appreciate for companies and services you use yourself. Why do you like those brands so much? Brainstorm on those thoughts and start integrating those ideas into your business as they make sense. The last thing to keep in mind is be willing to continuously adapt. Your customers and business will change over time, so should your approach to your customers.