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One of the worst-kept secrets in business is that it’s cheaper to keep existing current customers than win new ones. Studies show that adding a new customer is 5 to 25 times more costly than retaining an existing one.

The importance of loyal customers is why companies pour billions of dollars in reward programs. But incentivizing people to come back isn’t the only way—or even the best way—to turn customers into brand advocates.

As the following examples show, the brands with the loudest and most passionate fans aren’t relying on traditional loyalty programs. Here are examples of brands with very loyal customers and the lessons business leaders can learn from them.


In the social media era, you can measure the success of something by the number of memes it spawns. CrossFit is an excellent example.

CrossFitters (myself included) are notorious for always talking about CrossFit. But it’s not just that we talk about CrossFit, it’s how they talk about it. CrossFitters talk about the benefits of CrossFit—the social functional and the emotional—in such a way that it encourages people to become part of the tribe.

More importantly though, the human, personal aspect of CrossFit fuels loyalty for this fitness brand.

“CrossFit creates a tight-knit community of people who identify with and relate to each other,” points out Molly Sands of the Boston research firm CMB. “[CrossFitters] regularly do team-based competitions and partner workouts of the day that help develop strong relationships with other members of the [gym].”

As an avid CrossFitter myself, I can confirm Sands’ point. One of the reasons I keep coming back and why I tell my friends about CrossFit is because of the people I meet there. There are hundreds—if not thousands—of fitness programs available, and many of them are equally effective. It’s the community feel that CrossFit brings, however, that keeps me loyal.

Customer loyalty lesson for marketers:
Great products or services will no longer cut it—to create loyalty, build a community.


Just as popular as CrossFit jokes is the phrase “Netflix and chill”—a not-so-innocent internet slang that captures the undeniable popularity of the streaming service named after it.

Netflix did not become part of the pop culture vernacular by accident. A pioneer in streaming, Netflix was first to establish the streaming market. But there’s more to the company’s success than a first-mover advantage.

According to one study, Netflix easily beats its competitors when it comes to customer retention. The company’s original content (many of which get rave reviews from critics and customers) plays a big part in the company’s success.

But more more crucial to the company’s success is an understanding customer trends that is embedded in the streaming service itself. Whether it’s looking at what people watch next or what tick off as being liked, Netflix uses data in a smart way to learn about its customers and keep them happy. The company is also an expert in engagement, frequently asking users for feedback about its content and service.

Customer loyalty lesson:
Use data and engagement to better understand the needs of your customers.


When Slack is down, you’ll surely hear about it on Twitter. The online collaboration tool is as essential to people trying to get work done as Netflix is for those who are looking to “chill.”

And like Netflix, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company doesn’t take customer loyalty for granted. That means focusing on the product and making sure people are satisfied with it.

According to company CEO and founder Stewart Butterfield, listening to users allows the company to continuously improve its product. “We will take user feedback any way we can get it,” he told First Round. User feedback, according to Butterfield, is part of the company’s DNA, helping the company build a product that people can’t live without.

Customer loyalty lesson:
Use your understanding of your customers to build products that customers truly love.

JetBlue Airways

In an industry that gets a lot of flack from its customers, JetBlue Airways has always flown higher.

In Forrester’s 2018 Customer Experience Index, JetBlue earned the top spot for the second year in a row for customer service quality among 11 domestic airlines. It may be because unlike most of its competitors, it’s making the most of customer data.

That strategy includes both social media and more traditional market research tools. Surveys, for instance, are part of the company’s toolkit, according to Danny Cox, director of customer support and insights at JetBlue. The company uses surveys to ask customers about their experience and satisfaction. This includes whether they’d recommend JetBlue to friends and family, how they booked the flight and their pre-boarding and boarding experience.

Customer experience is something that the company will continue to focus on in the future.

“While companies must have one eye on the future, they need to remember how the customer looks at their experience,” wrote Liliana Petrova, director of customer experience at JetBlue, in a recent blog post. “The customer thinks of their experience in the now, so companies like ours must consistently meet that customer’s immediate needs, surpass their immediate expectations, and progress toward a future state of higher expectations.”

Finally, JetBlue’s employees play a big role in customer loyalty, most recently demonstrated by two flight attendants who ignored regulations in favor of helping a couple’s dog in distress by springing into action. You can’t beat a photo of rescued pup breathing easier with an oxygen mask when it comes to showing your customers you care.

Customer loyalty lesson:
Empower your employees to deliver a super customer experience. Use deep customer understanding to continuously improve CX.

Customer loyalty requires insight

If there’s a single thread that weaves together these customer loyalty examples, it’s that these brands never stop trying to understand their current customers—they know it’s easier to keep them by gathering insight than trying to attract new ones, and that customer loyalty plays a role in customer acquisition through good word of mouth.

How to keep your customers from cheating on you

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