Three Keys to Unlock Customer Loyalty
BY ALI CUDBY & LOUISE SCHULTZ
A customer comes into your store. She wants a new bra or two. Your masterful fitting inspires her to walk out the door with the two bras, as well as matching bottoms and some loungewear. You even remind her to grab a gift for an upcoming birthday party. It’s a win! Isn’t it? Potentially, but not definitely.
When lingerie boutique owners rely solely on the in-store experience to build long-term customer relationships, they shortchange their store’s opportunity to grow.
Ultimately, the in-store experience is only a small fraction of the overall promise a store delivers to its customers. Therefore, your emails, socials, and follow-up are critical to ensure loyalty. And customer experience is the sum of every point of interaction between a retailer and a customer.
Retailers want to encourage customers to become long-term, loyal (and highly profitable) customers. That kind of customer experience doesn’t happen by accident!
There are three keys to unlock customer loyalty:
Key #1 Know Your Customers
Every customer deserves a great experience when they buy from you. This is true whether the transaction is in-person or online.
Since your most loyal customers are vastly more profitable than the rest, you want to create opportunities to show these folks that they’re special. You begin with a process to identify them when they come into the store.
You need to give your VIPs the special treatment they’ve earned with their loyalty. As the business owner, you probably know some of your VIPs by sight. In my experience, retailers are often surprised when they look at the data and realize who tops the list of their most lucrative, loyal customers.
Your lucrative, loyal customers may not always be the ones who spend the most money every time they shop...they offer the highest value over the lifetime of their relationship with you.
EXAMPLE: Customer A comes in and spends $450. Customer B comes in and spends $100. Who’s the better customer?
You don’t know
If Customer A only comes in once (or even once a year) but Customer B comes in five times annually and also refers her friends to your business, then Customer B is vastly more valuable to your store.
The first key to unlocking loyalty is to know your customers.
"People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people never forget how you made them feel."
Key #2 Aim For The Bullseye
There’s a wonderful quote by Maya Angelou. It says:
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people never forget how you made them feel.”
In your business, the feeling customers get shouldn’t be left to chance. They must be specific and strategic. I call that your “Bullseye.”
The Bullseye is a like a mission statement, but instead of being about your business, it’s about your customers.
For example, one store’s Bullseye helps customers tap into being “their best selves” when they wear foundations that fit. That core message infuses every piece of communication that comes from the store.
A clearly articulated Bullseye can help you create marketing messages that compel your customers to sit up and take notice. Knowing how you want your customers to feel guides your messaging. It also guides how you train your team to engage with customers.
The more customers feel valued, the more they will want to come back sooner, spend more, and tell their friends about your store.
Once your Bullseye is ingrained in your communication, and employees embrace the message, you’re ready to take action.
Key #3 Take Consistent Action
Employees need to know exactly what they’re supposed to do in order to translate your Bullseye into action. It’s up to boutique owners to turn those feelings into steps that employees can follow successfully. These steps don’t have to be complex, but they’ll need to be reinforced. And repeated to ensure consistency (Probably more times than you’ll want to repeat them).
It’s up to you as the leader to define your expectations for customer engagement. You must clarify how employees should engage and behave to successfully bring those expectations to life. This is especially important now, as you introduce new protocols for safe customer interaction.
With your leadership, employees will appreciate the importance of taking consistent action. Otherwise, customer retention will become a “flavor of the month” initiative with no teeth for long-term growth. But customer retention is not a luxury. It’s an imperative. Your path to customer loyalty and retention has three steps:
1) Know Your Customers and specifically your most lucrative, loyal customers.
2 Create a Bullseye that defines how you want customers to feel in your store.
3) Develop consistent action steps for employees to be successful with your customer retention initiatives
Right now, retailers are going through a significant transition. In this economic reality, across every industry, new customer acquisition will be harder. It’s more important than ever to build relationships and keep the customers you’ve already worked so hard to win.