When it comes to your business, what makes your chest swell with pride?

Is it your cutting-edge POS system, your posh formal lobby, or your Olympic-sized swimming pool?

Perhaps, it is the collection of awards prominently displayed on your office wall.

The thing you should be most proud of, however, is your collection of loyal customers.

They are, after all, your company’s most valuable asset. And the more you have collected, the better.

So, how exactly can you go about expanding your collection of loyal clientele?

It’s all about meeting their needs better than anyone else in your industry.

The Need to Feel Special

Very few people that say “flattery will get you nowhere” actually mean it.

When it comes down to it, everyone needs to feel special.

And the preferred treatment afforded by exclusive membership status is an effective way to let your most loyal customers know how much they are valued.

According to “How to Build Customer Loyalty at Your Pub with Text Marketing,” one way of facilitating this is by providing your text messaging subscriber list with early access to special events.

Uno’s Pizzeria, for instance, rewards its Insider’s Club with the latest news, special invites, and members-only savings–plus a free Welcome Gift for signing up.

And, Golf Muskoka’s Insiders’ Club members receive exclusive deals that will not be found anywhere else.

The Need For Reward

If you were to peek inside most peoples’ wallets, you would likely find an impressive stack of rewards cards.

Yes, whether they offer points, miles, or old-school punches, everyone loves a card that promises to give them something for free.

As a result, many hotel and restaurant chains have introduced a formal customer loyalty rewards program.

And, according to Hotel Business Review, 70 percent of consumer loyalty and spending decisions are based on emotional factors, meaning that they are more likely to embrace loyalty programs that reward them in non-traditional, experiential ways that appeal to them on a personal level.

The Fairmont President’s Club, for instance, offers a variety of packages including orchestral, sip and savor, step out in style, spa escape, Land Rover experience and more.

The Need to Have Their Needs Met

If a loyal customer has a bad experience with your business, no amount of customer loyalty rewards will win them back.

Why would they want to repeat a negative experience–free or not?

The key to keeping your devoted clientele is by ensuring that every interaction they have with your business is a positive one and that you consistently exceed their expectations.

The Four Seasons Hotel Austin has taken steps to position itself as the supplier of sublime slumber by introducing exclusive Simmons mattress toppers designed to provide guests with a customized sleep.

Also included are high-end linens, a wide range of pillow choices, and a personalized evening turn-down.

The Need to be Heard

How can you meet a customer’s needs if you haven’t bothered to ask what they are? Quite simply put–you can’t. That’s why it is important to solicit honest feedback.

Conducting a survey is one way to secure important data from your clientele. It is important, however, to note that not all surveys are created equal.

Make sure that yours asks questions that will yield insight into how you can take action to improve your customers’ experiences. Overly generic data is far less useful than more specific information.

Furthermore, as SurveyMonkey warns, clients are more likely to complete your survey within a few days after visiting your establishment. The sooner, the better.

A couple of examples of surveys generated within the hospitality industry include those composed by the Wyndam Deerfield Beach Resort and the Hilton Albany.

If you are spending too much time gazing appreciatively at your Olympic-sized pool or polishing your Calacatta marble, you may be focusing on the wrong things.

Set your sights, instead, on your treasured clientele. They are, after all, the key to both you and your company’s success.

What is your take on traditional loyalty programs? Why do feel this way?

This article was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer and avid blogger who has taken to memorizing many of her loyalty card numbers. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.