Customer Loyalty Deserves Creativity in Rewards and Recognition

Repeat CustomerWhen you exhaustively focus on driving in new business, you may be neglecting your already loyal shoppers. What in your marketing budget, as well as how much of your personal time and effort is being invested in keeping these shoppers a part of your customer base and bottom line? To keep the regulars, you have to consider recognition. For instance, keep track of the types of purchases your loyal customers make, and on their next trip offer them the same or similar product at a special “Repeat Customer” discount. Or you can put into place the increasingly popular Customer Loyalty Program, giving your repeat customers that sense of exclusivity, while also supplying them with discounts, freebees and more. Yet part of being an independent retailer is offering something that is unique. And while one-of-a-kind merchandise is what brings the customers into your store, an original reward and recognition system is what keeps them out of the big box retail stores and behind your checkout counter.

Creative Rewards Keep Customers Loyal to Independent Retailers

Fox Business suggests a few new loyalty gestures that may excite your current customers, so much so that they bring in new business by telling all their friends:

1) Implement a customer loyalty program with a twist. Rather than providing a standard card with standard rewards to all customers, whether they’ve come to the store once, twice or one hundred times in the past year, create categories or a hierarchy system (e.g., gold, platinum, silver, copper). Each category is tied to specific benefits, and the most important part, the benefits are attained not only by the amount of money spent, but types of purchases made, referrals and years of loyalty.

2) Make your appreciation public. While everyone enjoys an attitude of appreciation and a personal thank you, they also like a little bit of the limelight. So, create an honor roll on one or all of your social sites. Your store is benefiting from the sales your customers provide, but by making it all about them, your customers will feel as if they are the ones who are benefiting.

3) Let them know they are worth your personal time. Take time out of your schedule and write a handwritten note to thank your repeat customers for their patronage. In a world of automated responses, every personal touch you add to your thank you can go a long way. Customers are taking the time out of their day to shop at your store, the least you can do is take a minute and recognize this.

Candace Canty, owner of an independent pet-supply boutique in Chicago’s Southport Avenue shopping corridor, says “You have to cater (the rewards) to your business,” as well as your customers. She continues to tell the Press of Atlantic City, “For our customers, dogs are part of their life, and we’re part of their routine. We’re their little community store.” And so, Canty felt it was only right to recognize both owners and their dogs. She hangs a portrait of each customer and their furry friend on her shop wall. While the recognition may not mean a frequent discount on supplies, customers still feel appreciated and Canty doesn’t have to worry about continual discounts negatively affecting her bottom line. Simply stated, creative rewards help address a crucial challenge: how to keep customers without promising a constant break in price.

However, loyalty promotions, recognition and rewards are not all that is required to keep a repeat customer. Independent retailers who are not only looking for sustainability in customer loyalty, but are also looking to increase their repeat customer numbers, must focus on rebuilding their business culture. As Entrepreneur suggests there are seven rebuilding tips to implement in your business culture, helping with customer loyalty, and they are as follows:

1) Anticipate customer wishes

2) Be patient with the hiring process to ensure superb service

3) Develop a customer-service vocabulary

4) Dedicate yourself to acknowledging each repeat customer

5) Perfect your hello and goodbye to customers entering and exiting the door

6) Speed up your service

7) Show your personality