For retailers looking to keep repeat customers and benefit from repeat sales, the cliché motto, “The customer is always right,” holds validity. Why is the customer always right? Simply, the customer knows what they want, what quality they expect, what price they plan on paying, and how they expect to be treated, wooed and wowed by the retailer from beginning to end. Independent retailers who are not only looking for sustainability in customer loyalty, but also looking for repeat customers, must focus on building a customer centric business culture.
Entrepreneur magazine columnist, Micah Solomon, suggests there are seven steps in fostering sustained customer loyalty: (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; and (7) show your personality. CRM columnist for BizCommunity.com, Daniel Munslow, agrees, saying, “Behind the scenes there are a number of internal processes that need to be brought into line before customer service can be fully realized.” Business culture must be done right and won’t be perfected overnight. However, while you ensure that your entire company understands its direction and values, you can begin showing customers you care today through reward and recognition.
Personally keeping track of repeat customers can be difficult depending on the size of your company, which is why many retailers invest in customer loyalty programs as a quick customer centric solution. But is it effective? According to a national study conducted by Colloquy and Swift Exchange, “U.S. consumers collect about $48 billion worth of rewards points each year, but fail to redeem at least $16 billion of that value.” Yet, consumers continue to sign up for that small piece of plastic, to be later attached to key chains and slipped inside wallets.
Michael Rochester, an affiliate with Dynamic Merchants, a merchant processing company, expresses the necessity of gift and loyalty card services associated with Customer Loyalty Programs, in a recent interview with IndependentRetailer.com. Rochester emphasizes, “Gift and loyalty card services are huge in the retail industry right now. It’s something I wouldn’t want a retailer, restaurant, or customer oriented organization to be without in this day and time.” It appears the recognition itself is more meaningful than the tangible earnings issued by individual programs.