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8 Ways to Earn True Customer Love

Many businesses are content if their customers seem “generally satisfied” overall. Others aspire to something more — they seek the kind of passionate customer satisfaction that inspires glowing thank you letters and backyard fence (or social media) recommendations.

If you suspect customers aren’t quite feeling that kind of love for your business, you’ve probably got some work to do. In a sense, customers who aren’t wholeheartedly with you might as well be against you. Customers who lack the love factor can actually be more damaging to your business than those who do business with your competitors.

That’s because people who aren’t yet customers of yours might at least try you out in the future. But those who are blasé about your business have already tried out your product or service and found you lacking in some respect. That’s not good.

Earning true customer loyalty – the kind that translates into recommendations and referrals – takes commitment, innovative ideas, energy and a little old-fashioned elbow grease. You, as business owner, must clarify for everyone else just what it is you want to accomplish with customers. This includes partners, employees, vendors and others who support what your business does.

And lest we forget, customer “love” also translates into a better bottom line. A recent American Express survey found that 75% of small business customers are willing to spend more with businesses that provide great service – up from just 58% two years ago.  And here’s the kicker: A hefty 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of poor service.

Here are eight things that will help customers find the love:

1. End the obstacle course

Take the initiative to find out when customers need (or will soon need) service or help – before they have to ask. The magical customer service moment is when your call, email or postcard offering help arrives at the precise moment the customer needs it.  Meanwhile, make it clear to each and every customer exactly how they can get service or help from your business when they need it – including a name and contact information.

2. Avoid customer hot potato

Whenever possible, the person who speaks to a customer first should “own” that customer for the duration of their visit. Companies send signals of disrespect by passing off a customer to “someone who can better help you with your problem.”  Yeah, right.

3. Streamline your website

Many small business websites seem cobbled together – a collection of different areas with different terminology and logic for getting around. Figure out one look and message you want to send, and stick with that.

4. Fix (for real) the big issues bugging your customers

Millions of businesses ask, ever so thoughtfully, “How can we improve?” That’s good. But how many really listen and act on what they hear? Customers read inaction as lack of caring and won’t bother to respond the next time you ask. A business that makes changes based on what it hears from customers earns more love.

5. Invest in customer loyalty

Customers have had it with loyalty programs that are just too much work or offer skimpy benefits. Try offering customers something without them having to ask or pay extra for it.

6. Offer customers real choices

Don’t bind customers into the fake choice of letting them “opt out” of something. Let them know up front that they can decide to get emails, offers or whatever from you and give them a choice.

7. Make someone responsible

Maybe it’s you. Or perhaps you make it part of someone else’s responsibilities. Either way, you call attention to your company’s passionate and persistent commitment to customer care. Be sure to reward employees publicly for exceptional customer care performance.

8. Put your money where your mouth is

Define specific customer care objectives that are right for your business, put some resources behind them, and figure out how you will measure the results.

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A Digital Replacement for Paper Loyalty Cards

The tried-and-true “Buy 10 get 1 free” loyalty card is being replaced by a new service called Stampt that lets retailers move their loyalty reward programs from paper cards to a smart phone application.  Stampt, which has just rolled out nationally, provides local merchants a more effective way to increase customer loyalty and stimulate more purchases.

Small businesses in San Francisco, Cincinnati, Chicago, and New York are already using Stampt, including restaurants, yoga studios, coffee shops, yogurt and ice cream stores, delicatessens, dry cleaners, auto repair shops and others.  The service will now be available coast to coast, and offers quick and easy sign-up. Each merchant card and offer is unique and branded for that merchant. Some sample offers include:

  • Buy 7 coffee drinks, Get 1 Free
  • Make 5 purchases over $10, Get a $15 gift card
  • Buy 7 yoga sessions, Get 1 Free

Digital “cards” will reinvent customer loyalty for local business by making it mobile and social. It’s more convenient and effect, and eliminates the problem of lost and forgotten cards.  Business owners can also benefit from improved customer interactions and insights into how loyalty programs are used, now captured digitally.  You’ll finally get a better handle on the impact of your loyalty program. Plus, consumers love it because the app lets them build loyalty at more places, more often, without the nuisance of paper cards.

How it Works:  Consumers pull out their smart phone at the point of sale and scan a Stampt “Quick Scan Card” that the merchant places near the register. The system records the visit and reward-eligible purchase, and stamps the customer’s digital card. Getting “Stampt” for the purchase is fast and easy.  It’s a perpetual incentive program that motivates consumers to use the service regularly.   Stampt is super easy to set-up and use, requiring zero systems integration and perhaps three minutes of training for store clerks.

Special offers and announcements:  Local businesses can also use the platform to offer news and special offers directly to customers who can see (and react) to offers within 15 minutes.  

Social interaction:  Customers can also post their Stampt activity to Facebook and Twitter, allowing their friends and followers to see where they’re earning rewards.    

Information reporting:  Participating merchants receive reports showing helpful information that’s impossible to get with paper cards, including these key metrics:

  • The number of active card holders
  • How frequently customers purchase
  • How recently they’ve visited
  • Most visited times of the day
  • What products and services customers are buying.

Business owners can use this information in direct marketing campaigns through Stampt.

Getting Started:  Any retailer, of any size, in any location, can use this free customer loyalty service.  Merchants simply visit Stampt.com and fill out a short registration form.  You can then specify the type of loyalty reward program you want to offer (buy 10 get-one-free; buy five get 20 percent off; buy one get 50 percent off; etc.).  Participating merchants also receive a kit with posters, a window sticker, and the Stampt “Quick Scan Card” that is placed near the register.

To learn more and sign up for a free merchant kit or download the app visit www.Stampt.com.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.