Retail expert Corin Birchall shares tips on increasing the number of repeat customers.
If you are looking for ways to generate more business, you should think of your previous and current customers as potential brand ambassadors. If you provide them with a high level of products or services that will increase the likelihood that they will return to your business in the future, and will also increase the likelihood that they will spread the word to their friends and family. Apple have famously adopted this process of turning its customers into their brand’s salespeople.
In our feature on increasing turnover
, getting your existing customers to shop with you more often is one of the three key tools you have at your disposal.
We have categorised some ideas around customer loyalty
to get customers back into your store, under one of three tips.
Tip #1 – Consider each transaction for its true value
When a customer first makes the decision to visit your business or shop at your store, the value of the initial transaction far exceeds the price of the service or product which you are selling. The true value of an initial transaction is that it enables you to begin to establish a relationship with your new customer and that is why you should ensure that the first impression you make is a good one.
Handle your first-time clients with a very high degree of care. Be sure that your place of business or webpage is professionally designed with the customer in mind. If other members of your staff will be communicating with first-time clients, ensure that they have received proper customer service training to ensure that they are well versed in providing top-notch customer care, and at making customers feel like valued patrons.
Do not view a transaction as ‘finished’ once money has exchanged hands. Be sure to be responsive, and provide each customer with any necessary support or after-care. If a customer has concerns or complaints be sure to actively listen to their comments, so you can choose the proper response and leave the customer with an overall positive impression of your company.
Even if you do not hear from the customer after the transaction, be sure to follow-up with the customer. Do not simply send a generic email message, personalize the message to the specific customer and transaction, so they know that you remember who you are, and can see that you truly care about their level of satisfaction. By providing the best possible level of customer service before, during, and after a transaction, you can greatly increase the potential of receiving repeat business or referrals from your previous customers.
Tip #2 – Build a Client Book & use to communicate with previous clients
If you do not currently keep a client book with contact information for all of your clients, now is a great time to start. You can begin by going through your documentation of past transactions, and compiling a list of all of the customers you have contact information for. You most likely have more information than you think! If you have been in business for a while, this project may take a great deal of time, so consider delegating the task to a dedicated customer relationship management (CRM) or data collection professional. Such professionals can speed up the process greatly if you are looking for fast results.
The entry for each client should ideally include (at a minimum):
Details of the transaction
A brief demographic description of the individual.
Do not ‘spam’ your previous clients with messages. Instead, find creative ways to engage them in conversation. For example, you can send press releases to inform past clients of new products or services you are offering, or you can send information on future sales or discounts. Another great option is to offer them the chance to take part in a poll, enter a contest or fill out form to review and rate their experience with your business. If you have established a relationship with the customer, inquire as to their well-being to show that your business cares about them as a person and views them as a valued client. You can also reward your best customers with unique and special incentives like tickets to a concert or a sporting event, or reward them by offering them a special discount coupon or code designed for your very best clients.
Tip #3 Reputation management is important!
In today’s market, consumers are able to influence others through their comments and reviews regarding businesses and products. If you do not have a website, get one! At the very least, create a mobile website. So many people are using their mobile phones to locate products and services and to read reviews about various business and products. The easier you are to find via a local search, the more highly trusted your name and brand will become. Plus, if a past client comes upon your new website when performing a search for products and services you provide, they may decide to return to your business once again.
Even if you do not have a website for your business, your name may be out there. The first thing you need to do listen. Find out what your previous customers are saying about you. If you are not sure how to accomplish this, an internet marketing professional can greatly simplify the process for you, so be sure to enlist the help of a specialist if you need it. Have you ever heard the saying that no press is bad press? That rings true when it comes to the world of online reviews. If customers are only praising your business, that’s great! However, if you find negative comments or reviews, do not think of them as problematic. Instead, consider these comments as an opportunity to show how your company responds to customer concerns with grace and professionalism. You should manage your reputation, not leave it to chance.
Establishing your own website with a forum is a great way to keep an eye on what people have to say about your business. You can also devote a page to an online newsletter, so that you can keep the community informed of new products or services, and any community involvement or charitable events pertaining to your business. If possible, connect with your customers via social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Again, this is a task you can delegate to a dedicated social media marketing professional.
Marketing and advertising campaigns that are designed to reach out to consumers and generate new leads can be extremely costly. If you wish to increase your profit margins with new business, you should know that new leads are not the only way. Your previous and current customers a great potential source of future revenue. By using these tips, you are sure receive more repeat customers in the future. Here’s to your success!
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