How to keep your customers close when budgets are tight

Lee Duddell
1 July, 24

With an unstable economy and an increasingly competitive marketplace, customers are demanding more from businesses in store and online. In this atmosphere of increased expectations for brands and impulsive spending habits, brands are in a battle to cultivate customer loyalty and trust. 

The cost of living crisis has not only made customers more fickle, but has also led brands to tighten budgets on innovation in product development and user experience.

Although intended to save brands money, the decision to cut costs can be expensive in the long term: limiting what businesses can do to entice customers through product innovation, and resulting in experiences that fail to meet customers’ changing needs.

Boosting your brand with loyalty and trust

Providing great customer experiences (CX) is a key part of contributing to the success of a brand.  Supporting your customers through a positive purchasing journey can create a sense of comfort, familiarity and reliance for a brand that impacts future buying decisions. Brands who provide positive experiences are rewarded. According to research, CX is a deciding factor in purchasing behaviour for 65% of people in the UK, while 73% of customers admit to swapping to a competitor after bad experiences with a brand.

Thinking proactively about what customers want, and pre-empting their expectations when releasing new products or iterating an existing feature can keep customers satisfied and help to build loyalty. 

Building satisfaction and a sense of understanding between consumers and a brand is incredibly valuable. Having happy customers who not only trust you and your product, but also feel connected to it, are fundamental for driving sales, even during tough financial times. 

An effective method for aligning with your customers’ wants and desires, and staying one step ahead, is achieved through continuous customer listening. Usability testing and getting feedback on a new experience, product or feature before launching it to the wider market can prevent brands from missing the mark with their customers. Knowing what your customers want can help avoid product launch failures, and allow you to catch any costly rework or brand reputation implications before they occur. It is estimated that re-work in software alone costs over $2.41 trillion each year!

Through experience research in particular, you can gain an understanding of your customers’ needs, hear from them directly about their responses to new products and experiences, and more easily identify any pain points quickly.

As customer demands rise, so should investment in CX

With customer demands increasing, taking a customer-first approach can often help companies develop products and experiences that ensure they’re meeting expectations, ultimately maintaining strong customer loyalty and demand. This is especially true in times of economic turmoil, when customers are liable to cut brands from their shopping baskets that they feel are failing to deliver value.

Exemplary user experience is one of the aspects that keeps a brand or product afloat during economic challenges. Being able to provide something above and beyond alternatives on the market, may be what sets your business apart during a tough financial climate. 

Customer experiences that don’t meet expectations can also turn even the most ardent brand loyalist against you. In times where every customer counts, there’s no margin for error to allow for customers to be soured by your brand’s faulty products or broken website interfaces, and every transaction must be nurtured and carefully curated. 

When times are tough, cutting spending on CX may appear to create a saving, but this approach is short-sighted: the long-term decline of product quality, brand trust and loyalty costs brands tenfold in lost sales and brand value. 

The importance of the loyal customer for your business

Having a loyal customer base is essential to a profitable business. Growing customer loyalty creates a more steady stream of sales, and therefore a more confident estimate of how much product to produce for demand, and of course, customers choosing that product or brand over others. 

Fostering loyal and repeat customers is more affordable than trying to gain new ones. This can lead to customers choosing their familiar and favourite product even if the brand is more costly than others. 

Content customers keep your approval ratings high, leaving good reviews and passing valuable positive word-of-mouth amongst their network. Having a great reputation is increasingly important for brands in recent times, as customers are increasingly likely to research brands before making purchases, and the recommendation of a trusted friend or family member is gold for consumers.

Understanding your customers 

As customers become pickier and more demanding of a brand’s CX, brands must rise to the occasion. Cultivating a great user experience is a key factor in surviving through tougher financial times. Building a strong and trusting customer base can be the difference between a good and a bad financial turning point for any company. 

The key to this is not just claiming to know your customers, but rather frequent and sustained contact with customers and hearing straight from the source. While customer personas are a valuable and classic tool for marketing and product teams alike, if you’re not regularly hearing from the actual people behind the personas and tailoring your approach to suit their ever-changing needs, your brand will suffer in the long run. 

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