How to build customer loyalty

Believe it or not, even a company like Krispy Kreme, with its moreish sugary delights, needs to work at customer retention. Joint MD Richard Cheshire shares his tips for businesses who want to keep their customers coming back for more.

by Richard Cheshire
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

With competition at an all-time high, how do you keep your customers coming back? Well, the ideal for any business, no matter in what industry you operate, is to have a base of loyal customers that are committed to your product and your company. It’s a two way process, if you are committed to your customers then they will be committed to you.
For us, there are four key ingredients to building a commitment to your customer: personality, consistency, quality and communication.
Brand personality is key. Build something exciting and recognisable that symbolises your ethos. You want your customers to be know what you sell and what you stand for through all your brand communications, from your logo to adverts to your customer service. 

Remeber that for customers the experience is almost as important as the product itself. It doesn't matter how tasty our doughnuts are if our customers have a negative experience with our staff.
When managing customers’ expectations it is vital that you are consistent, not only with the quality of the goods but also with the delivery. Our product range, displays in store, colours, brand representation and even the people within the company offer our customers consistency against their expectations.

When it comes to campaigns, using the same mechanic with regards to build-ups and sneak previews means customers know what to expect and they get excited about that. That doesn’t mean the brand can become predictable though, it’s still important to keep fresh, new creative ideas flowing.
It is vital that the customer experience is as high quality as the product itself. Customer requirements vary from location to location and it is important that you adapt the nuances of your business to create the ideal experience for your customers. If we regularly sell out of glazed doughnuts in one store, we know to order more of those, and fewer strawberry glaze, say. In addition, you want your premises to be somewhere that they are excited to visit, somewhere that they’ll tweet pictures of themselves inside once they are there, and somewhere they’ll be proud to be a customer of.
Don’t just communicate when things are going well, customers need to hear from a brand even when there are problems. When something positive happens, bring it to their attention. When something more negative happens, respond with reassurance, solutions, and more importantly, honesty, in a timely manner. This builds credibility, confidence and trust for the brand. Knowing your customers and how to interact with them means you can target loyalty schemes and rewards effectively, instead of sticking to those common within the same market.
The aim is to build a customer base that is dedicated to the brand, and can therefore be used as a sounding board for future plans, campaigns and ideas. The basic lesson lesson about customers is this: If you are loyal to them, they will be loyal to the brand.

Richard Cheshire is joint managing director of Krispy Kreme UK


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