Sunday, September 22, 2013

Customer Loyalty and Engagement as a Business Retention Tool

Can communities use customer loyalty strategies as a business retention tool? 

Marketing theory suggests that the way to keep customers coming back (or staying in the case of economic developers) is to keep the lines of communication open.  Loyalty requires not only building customer satisfaction but also building customer engagement.

Communities can initiate customer loyalty initiatives through collaboration and coordination between stakeholders.  There are many touch points that a community can have with one of its businesses, from its experience with governmental authorities, assistance provided by intermediary organizations or involvement with civic and social organizations. Providing a seamless message and experience is a major advantage of community branding efforts. 

Building loyalty also means listening to the business and acting on what you hear.  Business retention visits are a good way to survey businesses and learn about their engagement in the community.  If the owner or management of the organization doesn't live or engage in the community, then they may be less loyal and thus a higher risk for leaving when an expansion opportunity occurs. Encouraging them to live in the community, to get involved in local school or service club or other community activities will strengthen their interest and commitment.

The loyalty a business may have to a community is often determined by the strength of the relationships and interactions they have.  Cities, chambers of commerce, EDOs and others can work together to create a pro business environment that is consistently positive, supportive and effective. Each touch point is an opportunity to leave an impression with existing businesses and strengthen the relationship.

By adopting a customer loyalty and engagement marketing strategy, place marketers can retain more jobs, investment and wealth in their community. More importantly, it presents an opportunity to turn existing businesses into a true advocate and promoter of your area.   


No comments: