As a business owner, you dream of evangelists promoting your company. You want your customers not just to recommend you but to rave about you. Evangelists are the customers that have 100% faith in your brand and won’t stop until they’ve told the world how good you are. But how can you transform potential customers into evangelists?

To build a loyal base of customers, you’re going to need to work hard. You need ways of making the customer’s experience as effortless and pleasant as it should be. To create evangelists, you need processes to increase customer loyalty.

The ‘Ladder of Customer Loyalty’ is how brands create evangelists. It’s a way to split your customers up into 7 categories, so you can manage how you treat each different type of customer – from suspect to evangelist. You start with people who are potential customers. You keep them engaged with your product and excellent customer service, and eventually you earn their loyalty. And once you have their undevoted loyalty, you have an evangelist for your brand.

The 7 Stages of the ‘Ladder of Customer Loyalty.

Suspects are the very first level of people who could be potential buyers. They represent anybody who could buy from you. Regardless of demographics, the suspects are a wide audience of anyone who might buy your product. So if a product is only available in London, then everyone in London is a suspect.

The next level is prospects. These are people who might buy your product. While they haven’t bought anything from you yet, they’ve probably expressed some interest. This interest could be a phone call, a request for a quote or just an enquiry. But these people make up the majority of where advertising budgets go, trying to get people to take interest and consider buying your product.

These people actually buy your product. But most of these people are one-time buyers, which means companies have to spend time and money finding new prospects. Businesses that only have customers have to dedicate vast amounts of resources to finding new prospects, to generate leads. If the buyers are just one-time buyers, then the whole lead generating process has to be repeated, which is very costly and is the main reason why brands try to take customers to the next level.

Your clients are customers who buy from you more than once, repeat customers. These people are important because they’ve realised that your product is good enough to be bought more than once.

Members feel like they belong to your brand. They feel a sense of ownership with your offerings. Once you’ve reached this level, you have developed a significant ability to communicate with your market.

These people will recommend your company when they’re asked. And these people are important because most people rely heavily on recommendations and second opinions when buying a new product. Once you’ve achieved this, you can rely on your customers to help generate new leads.

The final stage of customer loyalty. These people are walking adverts for your brand. They’ll recommend you without even having to be asked. And in today’s world of social media where customers can interact and connect these recommendations instantaneously can make or break your business.

How do we Move Up the Ladder?

You need to know why they’re your customers in the first place. What is it about your company that draws them to you? It might be your customer service, your products or your team. But whatever it is you need to know. Because once you know that, you can use it to remind them why.

The best practice is to conduct a survey and gather feedback for insight. Most customers are time poor, so the most effective way to collect feedback are online questionnaires. They work but it is all about timing, they need to be part of the sales process. Using services like SmartSurvey will let you create online questionnaires for free.

A mixture of quantitative and qualitative feedback will provide a more rounded view. Understanding the customer experience at each touchpoint will be an important part of your Loyalty audit.

Having feedback from customers is only the starting point of the process, but an important one. However, to build a powerful connection with your customers and clients, you must have a clear understanding of the organisation brand and its values.