Maintaining a great relationship with your customers is one of the best ways to keep them coming back. Sometimes small business owners get caught up in the day-to-day grind of running a business and forget about some of the best practices associated with developing great customer relationships. Here is a short refresher on a few of the ways you can strengthen and maintain a great relationship with your customers.
Make Customer Service King – Always strive to provide the best possible service to your customers, even if you’re dealing with someone who is giving you a hard time. Maintaining a calm demeanor and a smiling face isn’t always easy when a customer is not offering you the same courtesy, but it is essential for generating the reputation of being a retailer who always comes through for their customers. All employees should also be trained in the fine art of customer service so that even if you’re not present, the customer will still be given the best possible “service with a smile.” The best way to make sure you are offering the best customer service possible is to get yourself and your employees trained.
Listen, Listen, Listen – Retailers who ask for suggestions from customers are very smart retailers. Large retailers spend a lot of money on market surveys and testing of which products will sell the best. That said, even if your budget for market testing is small or nothing at all, you can still ask for customer suggestions and feedback. You could do something as simple as placing a suggestion box near your entrance, or you could send out a questionnaire in your newsletter or in an email campaign. You can also ask for feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Ask customers what products they absolutely love, what they can’t do without, and what they aren’t really liking much. Also, ask them if there is anything you can do better – customer service, product offerings, clean facilities, etc. And of course, when feedback is offered, respond quickly and appreciatively – even if the feedback is not good. Let the customer know that you will be taking steps to correct the situation and that you appreciate them bringing it to your attention, or that you will look into a new product they have requested, etc.
Personalize the Shopping Experience – All customers like to be given personalized offers and coupons for the things they shop for often. A good POS system and always asking for email addresses and/or phone numbers can help with this immensely. Today’s modern POS systems can help you learn what your customers are buying, and will generate offers based on what is being purchased today as well on past purchases. Emails and coupons with offers can even be generated for products the customer shops for regularly.
Exceed Expectations – All small retailers should do what they say they’re going to do, whether it is having enough stock for a featured sale, or delivering an order on a specific date at a specific time. That is what customers expect. Exceeding their expectations could be in the form of an unexpected “Great Customer” discount, a free sample or product offered with the purchase of another product, or even a small gift given on holidays. Offering heart-shaped cookies on Valentine’s Day, giving a flag-shaped magnet (with your store name on it, of course) on the 4th of July, and offering a cup of hot chocolate to all customers on the last shopping day before Christmas are all “above and beyond” gestures that your customers will remember and appreciate. Automatically transporting the 10 gallons of paint just purchased to the customer’s vehicle is also something that will exceed your customers’ expectations. If your budget is small, you may have to get creative, but however you do it, always strive to exceed the expectations of your customers.