Are you in a LONGTERM RELATIONSHIP with your customer?
Loyal customers play a vital role in the success of a business because they buy more frequently, spend more money per transaction and provide valuable word-of-mouth promotion. On average, it costs businesses 5 to 10x more to attract 1 new customer than to sell to an existing one. And, given that current customers spend 67% more than new ones, building these long term relationships can be the key to making a business more profitable.
Good old fashioned customer service
A recent survey indicates that 71 percent of customers who ended a business relationship did so because of poor customer service experiences. So what can you do to improve in-store customer loyalty now?
- • Connect. In a world of tweets and automated calling systems, people like to be personally engaged. They remember their first and last impression of your business, so saying hello, thank you and goodbye, while offering friendly competent service in between, is an essential part of making your brand personable and attracting customer longevity.
- • Hire and train well. Be clear about your expectations and commitment to a long term relationship with your customer. Be certain that your staff and those who represent your business are “pro-customer” too.
- • Streamline your policies to ensure they are essential and effective, fair and clearly communicated. Factors like “no questions asked” return policies, price matching and special “apology” offers can turn a challenge into a chance to gain your customers trust. People will be loyal to your business if your products meet their expectations and if you provide a consistently positive experience in your transactions with them. Straightforward, clear guidelines will help.
- • Anticipating your customers’ needs can make their transactions more convenient resulting in brand advocates who are loyal to your business and who will spread the word. Never underestimate the power of making your customers’ lives easier. They’ll be grateful.
- • Communication is a two-way street. Listen to customer feedback and discover potential new revenue streams for your business. Remind your customer of all you have to offer—perhaps there are other products and services you offer that they are unaware of.
- • Add value to your loyal customers’ experience with add-ons or upgrades.
Next level loyalty
Don’t be intimidated, new online companies such as 5star and crewHu are making it possible for smaller independent businesses to offer loyalty programs to their clients and measure its effectiveness. Here’s a rundown on the basic kinds of customer loyalty programs:
- • Basic point or number systems are the most common method. Keep your program simple and intuitive: 1 free cupcake for every dozen, for example. This works best for businesses that encourage frequent short-term purchases.
- • Hierarchical systems work by rewarding initial loyalty and encouraging more purchases. Rewards increase with use. This works best for high commitment, higher price-point businesses.
- • Charge a fee for VIP benefits OR accord VIP status after a certain level of purchases, or frequency, have occurred. This is most applicable to businesses that thrive on repeat business. For a fee, or as a reward for consistent business, your customers can receive expedited check outs, for example, or personal shopping, early admission to events, smaller crowds with better access to goods, gifts and rewards—you get the picture.
- • Coalition programs. Partner with others in your community to provide all-inclusive offers. Example: a party rental company can join forces with a catering company to mutual benefit. This rewards your client and also introduces each business to potential new loyal clients.
- • Game On. Winner takes the cake!! Keep it lighthearted and fun with in-store or in-office games that encourage repeat customers, solidify brand image and drive increased sales. Be creative and keep the game relevant, straightforward and attainable.
- • Incentives for referrals and repeat business. Give your established customers incentive to return by providing a future reward or discount based on a current booking or purchase. Reward your existing customers when they bring you new business.
RE-UNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
Using ‘engagement based’ customer service practices with a program that rewards customer loyalty creates a solid foundation for a successful business. Contact Cold Stone Catering today for more ideas on how to keep your customers coming back for more.