How can you turn prospective customers into loyal brand advocates? This post explains.

As entrepreneurs and small business owners know, obtaining loyal customers in a competitive market can be difficult, to say the least. It also means there is less room for mistakes, as 58 percent of customers say will never use a company again after a negative experience, New Voice Media says.

So what’s the key to turning prospective customers into loyal brand advocates? Optimizing the customer experience is essential. This not only means paying attention to each focus point of the customer journey, but taking care of the customer and understanding their needs. In our increasingly digital world, following three simple tips can help you get that returning clientele that will ensure your businesses success.

1. Encourage Sharing, Communication and Engagement

It’s no secret that social media and the digital environment have created a line of open communication and transparency between businesses and audiences. With the ability for consumers to directly communicate with brands and get involved with their cause and business activity, audiences are now demanding a new method of brand consumption — online engagement.

To meet these needs, utilize online tools like social media, websites and blogs to give your customers more than just a product or service. By starting an Instagram photo competition, creating a Twitter hashtag that links up fellow consumers or asking a question on Facebook to start a discussion, you are encouraging your customers to interact with you so your brand remains at the forefront of their minds, ready for the next time they need to make a purchase. It also enhances their overall customer experience and ensures the journey is not just about a boring transaction, giving your brand a competitive edge. If possible, make sure you’re available on multiple social media platforms so you’re easily accessibly to all audiences. Be sure to communicate and respond regularly to keep engagement high.

2. Offer Value and Show You Care

While ensuring quality in what you’re selling is vital, offering more value is becoming a common need for modern day consumers. However, it can be easier than you think. How do you make someone want to return? Make them feel like they are missing out if they don’t. Through your marketing efforts, try adding value by making audiences feel like they are part of a community, of something special that can’t be forgotten. It could be as simple as Uber’s “Invite A Friend” promo that offers you a discount if you get a friend to sign up, or something a little more complex like partnering with a charity of foundation.

Another way to add value to your customer through their brand experience is by showing you care. Ask for regular feedback and provide access to surveys or questionnaires, as this shows you are making an effort to improve your business.

3. Have a comprehensive approach to complaints and issue management

According to a survey commissioned by RightNow, 55 percent of consumers say easy access to support and information makes them fall in love with a brand. This can be done through a number of ways, including online tutorials, handbooks, blog posts, online forums and social media. However, one of the most popular ways for customers to seek help is over the phone as it makes communicating much easier, and usually sees the issue resolved faster. Call centers are a great option for any brand, and these days you can even have a virtual office call center. Not only does this cut costs for your company, but it provides an efficient and effective way to resolve issues and streamline the customer experience.

Happy customers are important for any brand. While the business environment is competitive and difficult at times, by optimizing the customer journey through these quick tips, you are giving yourself the best chance to satisfy every consumer and obtain a loyal following.