We all say it. I have My Dry Cleaners, My Grocery Store, My Gas Station, My Pharmacy. They are all MINE. Of course, I don’t own any of these businesses—but, I am a loyal customer of the locations that I fondly refer to as “mine”. The value of them making me one of their “My’s” is huge. I am a repeat customer and probably a heavy user from their perspective.
But, I didn’t become one of their loyal customers easily. They had to prove their value to me. When I conduct my LSM training for local franchisees, I tell them that their goal is to become someone’s “My”. Building a strong base of repeat and loyal customer is key to driving sales and transactions. Here are six keys to how you can become someone’s “My”.
#1 Encourage Your Team to Get to Know Your Customers
In this high tech, low-touch world, it is amazing how far a friendly greeting can go. Yes, it starts with all of the usual “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” or “How can I help you today? comments. But, it’s the familiarity that grows from there that’s important. Those are just the ice breakers. Those are the statements that make me feel comfortable asking about the new product or the item that I wish they would carry. And that’s where loyalty and customer value starts to grow.
So, encourage your team with incentives, that encourage them to get to know their customers. Reward them when you hear them engaging with customers. It will go a long way in building both customer and employee loyalty.
#2 Ask Customers to Spread the Word About Your Services
People want to feel “in the know” and “important”. Let your customers know that you value their sharing information about your business. Whether it’s a new product launch, an exceptional experience or a special offer…. Ask customers to share the news with their family and friends. Social media provides the channel for customers to talk “out loud” about your location and suggesting hashtags for them to use when communicating will increase the power of the message.
#3 When You Let a Customer Down…. Apologize
Show your customers that you value their business and want to keep them happy. If you’ve let a customer down in some way, provide them with something free or of value to them, to show that you truly want them to be satisfied. Be Our Guest cards are great for restaurants. These cards include an offer for a free item. Service based retailers can offer free upgrades on the customer’s next visit and other types of retailers might consider a special premium gift that the customer will find useful. Yes, there’s a small investment in these items. However, the cost is far less than the cost of acquiring a new customer, which could potentially be necessary if you let an existing one leave unhappy.
#4 Frequency Offers to Reward Repeat Visits
Frequency offers reward customers who make repeat visits and purchase designated items or services. You’ve seen them…. Buy five and get the sixth item free. Restaurants often participate in a points program, such as Open Table, which is great—but, the best programs are those that are connected directly to your own brand. Mobile App programs often have a loyalty component, but if you don’t have a mobile app for your business, don’t let that stop you. Frequency cards, that can be punched or validated with each purchase, will work to drive customers back into your location. For service based businesses, POS systems will often track the purchase and use of services—this opens up the door for series sales. For example, buy five haircuts and get the sixth one free. Your customers will see and feel the value of the deal, while at the same time, the advance purchase guarantees you their loyalty.
#5 Sponsor, Fundraise, Donate
I’ve talked about the importance of supporting your community quite a bit in my blog posts—that’s because it is absolutely one of the foundations to your Local Customer Engagement and Local Store Marketing plans. Customers value businesses that support other elements of their lives—so go ahead and sponsor that 5K run or conduct a fundraiser for the high school band based upon sales on a specific night. By supporting worthwhile events and organizations, your local business’ brand is connected to your community. As you’re deciding on the events and activities to participate in, look for those that you can “own” and that your competitors have nothing do with. Also consider whether it’s a fit for your business. For example, if you own a pet shop, sponsoring a fun run for dogs and their owners is a natural fit or donating to the local fire house and their “fire house dog” is a logical connection.
Celebrate and thank your customers for their continued support of your business! Host an Anniversary Party or a Customer Appreciation event. Introduce yourself to customers at these events and encourage your managers and employees to do the same. Include some surprises—such as a special gift for the 100th customer that visits on the day of the event. Anything that you can think of to make your customers feel valued and that will show them that you appreciate their business will go a long way in building their loyalty.
Becoming someone’s “My” is an honor that brings far reaching rewards. These relationships can provide the stability and ongoing sales that will ensure your business will be around for years to come. Investing in the development of customer loyalty will bring dividends that literally span generations.
Interested in learning more about Local Customer Engagement and building plans your franchise or multi-unit business? Check out 5 Reasons Why Local Customer Engagement is Critical to Your Business #LSM #LocalCustomerEngagement #LocalStoreMarketing