How do you measure customer loyalty? Is it by the number of dog-eared punch cards, or check-ins on Yelp? Or—for the diehards—a tattoo of your logo in exchange for a lifetime discount?
The short answer to these questions is no. But, considering the wide variety of qualitative and quantitative metrics that business leaders use to understand customer loyalty, they aren’t totally off base. And because repeat customers can be more cost-effective than new ones, it makes sense that a business would want to learn as much as possible about retaining its customer base.
If you’re a small-business leader looking to increase retention, lower churn, and improve customer experience at your organization, you’re in the right place to learn about customer loyalty metrics: the ways we measure our ability as business leaders to earn our customers’ business again and again. Read on for six ways to measure customer loyalty at your company.
Also known as customer effort score, customer engagement score (CES) is a metric that measures customers’ perception of how easy it is to handle interactions and achieve issue resolution during service and support requests. By reducing customer effort, service organizations can deliver higher-quality interactions at lower costs. 
CES is based on a survey question that asks customers how difficult it was to get their query or complaint resolved: “How hard did you have to work to get a problem fixed, a query answered, or a service rendered?”
CES is measured on a 7-point scale and can be calculated by finding the average of the scores given by all responding customers.
Gartner  recommends that organizations maintain a CES of 5 and above to build customer loyalty, as CES ranges from 1 to 7. Service organizations could consider the average CES of 5 as a benchmark of an average customer whose perceptions of the product or service is enhanceable through value enhancement.
See below for a visual representation of Gartner’s Loyalty Playbook , which demonstrates how a low-effort customer experience can help mitigate customer disloyalty.
Your net promoter score, or NPS, helps measure a customer’s satisfaction level by looking at loyalty parameters. It’s calculated based on customer responses to the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend?”
Based on responses, you can divide your customers into three groups:
Promoters: Customers who responded with a 9 or 10. These are loyal customers who make repeat purchases and refer your brand to friends and family.
Passives: Customers who responded with a 7 or 8. Though these customers shop with you, they’ll likely move to a competitor if they find a better price, product, or feature.
Detractors: Customers who selected a rating between 0 and 6. These are unsatisfied customers who’re likely to leave a negative review for your brand.
You can determine your NPS by calculating the difference between the percentage of your promoters and detractors.
Since you’re subtracting percentages, NPS can range from -100 to 100. You’ll want to ensure yours stays above zero: a negative score says you have more detractors than promoters—which means your customers are unhappy. If your NPS is higher than 30, good news! You have far more happy customers than unhappy ones. If your NPS is over 70, things couldn’t be better. Keep up the good work.
If these metrics are making you excited to flex your math muscles, you’re in luck because we have four more to cover. But keeping track of these numbers is going to get tedious as you grow your business. Ditch your calculator, and invest in these tech tools instead:
Customer relationship management software is all about strategies used by businesses to manage customer interactions. Analytical CRM tools measure customer loyalty because they collect and analyze customer data and other information that enables small businesses to improve customer satisfaction.
Customer engagement software helps you troubleshoot customer disengagement and dissatisfaction. Features such as reporting and analytics allow small-business leaders to track and view metrics about customer interaction and website traffic. Insights can be used to improve and optimize customer engagement.
Customer success software helps SMBs understand their customer base by aggregating data from CRM databases and customer service team communication channels. By tracking metrics such as NPS, companies can identify customers that require extra support or even highlight customers that are ready for additional products or services.
Your repurchase ratio (also known as repurchase rate or repeat purchase rate) calculates the percentage of customers who came back to buy from you again within a certain timeframe (usually a year) after their first purchase. This helps you understand a few different things:
The success of your marketing and retention efforts.
The rate at which customers consume your product, or need your service again.
Whether your product or service is a good fit for your target customer.
How much customers like and value your product or service.
You can calculate your repurchase ratio by dividing the number of customers who have purchased from you more than once by the total number of customers over the same timeframe.
eCommerce industry experts  say your repurchase ratio should be between 20-40%. But this will vary depending on how long a business has been around and what it’s selling. Established businesses will see higher repurchase ratios than just-launched ones. Likewise, a business selling highly consumable products, such as food or personal care products, will have a higher repurchase ratio than one selling long-lasting products such as cookware or furniture. 
Customer lifetime value, abbreviated as either CLV, LTV, or CLTV, is the average revenue brought in by a customer relationship over a lifetime. A repeat customer who makes multiple purchases from your business over their customer lifespan, or the total number of years that they purchase from you, will have a higher customer CLV than a one-time customer.
You can find out your business’s average CLV by determining the following variables, which we’ve defined for you below:
|Variable||How to calculate|
|Average purchase value||Divide your company’s total revenue within the time frame you want to calculate for by the number of purchases over the course of that same time frame.|
|Average purchase frequency||Divide the number of purchases over the course of the time frame by the number of customers who made purchases during that same time frame.|
|Customer value||Multiply the average purchase value by the average purchase frequency.|
|Average customer lifespan||Find the average number of years a customer makes purchases from your company.|
Calculate your CLV by multiplying customer value by average customer lifespan. This will give you an estimate of how much revenue you can expect from your average customer over the course of their relationship with your business.
To be able to determine what CLV is good for your business, you need to calculate your customer acquisition cost, or CAC. See below for a quick tutorial:
A CLV to CAC ratio of 3:1 is ideal because it means you’re making three times what you paid to acquire customers. A 1:1 ratio means that the cost to acquire new customers is the same as those customers’ CLV, which would result in a loss, since CAC only takes marketing and sales expenses into account and not what you’re spending on parts, labor, shipping, and handling.
If your CLV is lower than your CAC, that means your business is spending more to acquire customers than it stands to make from those same customers. While a ratio that is higher than 3:1 seems like a good thing, it might mean there’s more you could be doing to bring in customers.
Customer loyalty index, or CLI, helps you track customer loyalty over time. Customers take a survey that gauges NPS, repurchases, and upselling all in one.
The three questions that make up the CLI survey are as follows:
How likely are you to recommend [your business name] to a friend?
How likely are you to buy from [your business name] again?
How likely are you to try [your business name]’s other products or services?
Customers will answer on a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 means “very likely” and 6 means “not likely.”
You can calculate a customer’s CLI score by finding the average of the scores to all three questions.
In the case of CLI, a lower score is preferable. Aim for around 2.
Did you know that your business doesn’t need a customer loyalty program to measure customer loyalty? In fact, Gartner  recommends against relying on a loyalty program as your only metric for customer loyalty, and instead suggests combining a program with other metrics for your truest sense of how your customers are feeling.
A loyalty program does provide you with a few other metrics that you can use to measure customer loyalty, such as loyalty program participation rate, which measures how many of your customers are part of your loyalty program.
You can calculate your loyalty program participation rate by dividing the number of members in your program by your total number of customers.
If a quarter of your total customers are participating in your loyalty program, you can consider it a success, as 23% is about the average loyalty program participation rate across industries. 
Whichever metrics you decide to measure, it’s important that your entire team understands what KPIs you’re working toward, and what improvements need to be made to increase customer loyalty. It’s also important that you train team members on the software you adopt to more effectively measure customer loyalty.
Head over here for more resources on customer management for your small business.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
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