You cannot avoid it even if you wanted. Today is Valentine's Day and several marketers and retailers have been working hard for the past weeks to hype up the annual holiday and tempt customers to spend some money on a gift for their loved ones.Brightly-colored flowers, heart-adorned greeting cards, and chocolate-covered berries are vying for our attention in the hope that we'll put our hands deep into our pockets and spend our hard-earned cash. According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, customers will be spending an average of $130.97 on Valentine's Day-related items, slightly up from last year's $126.03. In the United States alone, this amounts to $18.6 billion.
But this Valentine's Day, organizations should be going beyond thinking about the holiday as a way to market and sell their products. Instead, they should also be taking a good look at their relationship with their customers and asking the all-important question: "Do my customers love me?"
As Jonathan Gray, vice president of marketing and leader for revenue generation and marketing services at Revana, writes in this blog, successful relationships require work and dedication. "Business leaders who are committed to stem churn need to rekindle the relationship with their customers by focusing on their needs, showing respect, and engaging with them in a personalized manner," Gray notes. He highlights five important actions that businesses should focus on to gain and retain their customers' love:
Focus on customer engagement: Customers want to feel special and it's imperative that companies focus on customers' individual needs and personalized engagement as an integral part of their customer retention strategy.
Listen to customers' views: Business leaders should put their ear to the ground and listen to both customers' vocal comments as well as subtle communications, and then use this feedback to understand what they're doing right and what requires improvement to improve customer satisfaction.
Use data for effective insights: With copious amounts of data available, organizations have ample information to help them determine an effective strategy to treat customers the way they expect to be treated, make essential improvement to products and services, and improve the overall customer experience.
Ensure the same treatment across different channels: Today's customers are using different channels to interact and do business with brands and it's imperative that these organizations deliver the same experience irrespective of the channel by integrating the different customer touchpoints to deliver seamless multichannel interactions.
Create lasting loyalty: Loyal customers are very precious to an organization. But customers have so many options to choose from that they will only continue doing business with a company that is respectful of their needs and if they really enjoy the experience. Gray says: "Just like a couple who works to keep their relationship alive, organizations need to keep the momentum going throughout the customer lifecycle to ensure that customers are still passionate about doing business with them."
So rather than treating their customers as walking wallets, organizations need to think about creating and maintaining lasting relationships. That's the recipe for creating loyal customers who want to continue doing business with a brand even though they have a choice.