Loyal customers love to talk about businesses they like.
Whether it’s on Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, or by providing a review on a company’s site, loyal customers love to share their experiences. And that loyalty is worth a lot!
Many companies see customer loyalty as a complex and mysterious thing, worthy of endless measurement and analysis. But the constant creation of long surveys and analysis of the data that customers provide can actually complicate what should be a very intuitive process for both you and the customer.
Customers want to help the businesses they like but would prefer a simple way to provide feedback. And subsequently, they want to feel that their feedback was heard and appreciated by the company.
Here are some recommendations to build and strengthen customer loyalty for your brand:

Customer crowdsourcing: empower your customers.

Toy company Lego is responsible for probably one of the best examples of customer crowdsourcing that I have come across: Lego allows users to design new products, and at the same time, tests the demand.
Any user can go to Ideas.lego.com and submit a design that other users are able to vote on. The idea that gets the most votes is moved to production, and the creator receives a 1 percent royalty on the net revenue. The “ideas” site has helped Lego increase their number of innovative product ideas while also improving customer loyalty and engagement.

Respond to customer feedback, pronto!

When you solicit feedback from your customers, act on it right away! Failing to do so will cause many of your customers to feel that providing feedback is a waste of their time, and they’ll stop doing it, leaving you with no data to analyze at all.
Social media channels are a key cornerstone of this strategy. Immediately respond to online comments on your social media channels, even if they are negative. When you don’t respond in a timely manner, comments and reviews can become stale and leave a bad impression on everyone who visits your social media page.
With more businesses moving to subscription and service-based models, customer retention is even more important than ever before, as customers can come and go with very low switching cost.
For more tips on customer loyalty, download the Microsoft ebook titled, “How Intelligent Customer Service Drives Loyalty, Revenue, Efficiency.”

Get your sales force on board with customer loyalty efforts.

Sales people may be reluctant to solicit customer feedback for a variety of reasons—they may be afraid to hear negative feedback about themselves, or they may see customer satisfaction surveys and online reviews as a waste of time and energy.
But as the client-facing part of the company, your sales representatives are the ideal people to receive the feedback you need to drive customer loyalty and win sales. They are also usually the first to hear any complaints or reports of issues with the product or service you provide.
To get your sales force on board, talk to them about how customer loyalty programs can help to increase the customer lifetime value (CLV)—a term that will more than likely resonate with sales people. Show them the upside to collecting this feedback, whether that means simply more sales or a bonus you provide based on the number of their customers who are a part of the program.
After all, the behavior of all good sales people is dictated directly by their incentive structure.

Over analysis = paralysis.

Too often, companies ignore what customers are trying to say by over analyzing the feedback they provide or demanding too much feedback in the first place.
Keeping the process simple is the key to driving customer loyalty effectively. Spend less time on collection and analysis of insights and more time addressing the problems customers help you identify.
And when it’s time to crunch and present your data to your team so that everyone can learn more and act on the customer feedback, utilize the amazing data visualization solution—Power BI.
Power BI transforms your company’s data into rich visuals for you to collect and organize, so you can focus on what matters to you. Stay in the know, spot trends as they happen.

Map the conversation to customer pain points.

It is important to take the customer conversation beyond products and into complete business solutions which directly address customer pain points. At Microsoft, many of our best partners and sales people are able to discuss solutions in terms of customers’ needs. For example, you’ll have more success marketing a product to a customer who you know has a workforce that is geographically dispersed and needs to share files remotely, rather than just asking if they need a productivity suite.
Microsoft aligned its own marketing strategy to shift to a solution focus with the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign, a result of extensive research and feedback from small and midsize customers worldwide. The result is a set of customizable resources that map directly to the customer pain points aggregated into four categories: Business Anywhere, Safeguard Your Business, Grow Efficiently, and Connect with Customers.
For examples of ways you can market to new or existing customers, check out ModernBiz resources such as the Connect with Customers pitch deck, which will help you start a conversation by addressing key customer challenges. Additionally, you will find social media messaging blocks, telesales guides, email templates, sales decks, and more. These will give you a head start on understanding your customers and how to begin marketing to them appropriately.