Businesses that actively engage with customers and are acutely responsive to their questions, comments and complaints tend to be rewarded with greater profits, according to voice-of-the-customer intelligence firm Allegiance, which has published a white paper outlining nine ways to boost customer loyalty. This article is copyright 2011 The Best Customer Guide.

Just one generation ago, customer loyalty was a completely different game than it is today. Today's consumers can - and do - switch suppliers at the click of a mouse, despite a wealth of rewards programs, privileges, offers, discounts, and added value. In fact, Bain & Company recently reported that the average company loses between 10% and 15% of its customer base every year.

In response the white paper, entitled 'Nine Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty', identifies several strategies and practices that businesses can implement to help keep their customers loyal.

"Companies are losing customers at a staggering rate without really hearing from them or understanding why," explained Adam Edmunds, president and CEO for Allegiance. "By identifying what drives customer loyalty and engagement, marketers can begin to develop best practices that will have a direct impact on customer retention and profits."

As outlined in the paper, the nine loyalty principles identified fall into three groups:

  1. Basic Concepts
    First, understand your customers' expectations for quality and reach out to them to create a two-way dialog. This will lead to engagement, which takes your customer beyond passive loyalty to become an active participant and promoter of your product.
  2. Feedback Technologies
    Adopt technology to help you manage large volumes of unstructured data and create actionable information from your feedback. Use technology to help you centralise the information, create reports and structure drill-downs.
  3. Business Outcomes
    Tie the latest 'soft measures' such as satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement to 'hard measures' of actual business outcomes, like shareholder returns, annual sales growth, gross margin, market share, cash flows, and so on. Analyse data using a statistical technique to reveal the most important areas to focus on for improved business outcomes.

The paper also includes specific examples that companies can use to help increase loyalty and gain a greater competitive advantage. The paper has been made available for free download from Allegiance's web site - click here (free registration required).