When planning and implementing your brand-building strategy, take the time to consider customer loyalty as an important element. Your company should be involved in a continuous process of gaining new customers and keeping return customers happy.

You are much more likely to see a steady increase in your bottom line with this strategy since it will allow you to continually grow your customer base. Also, it is much less expensive to keep a happy customer than it is to win a new one. Loyal customers not only make repeat purchases, they also refer others.  In a time when budgets are tight, remember how valuable your loyal customers are.

According to Jill Griffin, loyalty expert and author of Customer Loyalty, it is important to understand the distinction between customer service and customer loyalty:

“When successfully building a brand, the customer’s experience with that brand needs to be consistent with the image the brand projects. In other words, real experiences with the brand need to match expectations. Customer service is one important touch point in achieving that consistency, but to build customer loyalty, many other elements contribute to the customer experience besides just service. Marketing touch points, sales touch points, the way the product performs, the visual cues surrounding the product or service, word of mouth, etc. all are contributors.”

Insulating your customers from competition is part disciplined brand quality and consistency and part proactive action that benefits your customers. If you know you competition is making a move on your customers, reach out with a special offer or gift that has value to them.

For a longer-term approach, consider building a customer rewards program – that works. Not something that just gives your customers another card that they aren’t sure what to do with and will probably lose, but one that appeals specifically to what your customers consider a valuable reward. This requires an understanding of your customer base as well as a consideration of what is possible with your resources and technology.