How do you build an army of loyal customers? Last week on Business Hacks we looked at how you can keep track of the amount of returning customers you have and some easy ways to ask for feedback on how you’re doing. Then what?
We all know that the cost of getting new customers is far higher than that of keeping loyal ones. So, here are our best tips on how to get the ball rolling!
Scheming for loyalty
We constantly receive questions on the subject of customer loyalty schemes. Thus we passed that straight on to our wise professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, Magnus Söderlund.
“People often don’t realise how expensive loyalty programs and reward schemes are to maintain,” says Magnus. “It can require dedicated personnel and big budgets. So make sure it is what you need and you don’t lose focus on existing customers.”
Keep it simple – how about a loyalty card that gets stamped every time your customer buys a coffee and adds up to a free drink?
If you want to experiment, keep it simple at first. A loyalty card that gets stamped every time your customer buys a coffee and adds up to a free drink can be a good starting point and is relatively low cost. Do you remember our story about the creative scots who teamed up as the Disloyal 7?
Just make sure your coffee is heavenly enough for people to want more!
We constantly hear about how ‘big data’ is used to boost customer sales. But such number crunching is not only bewildering enough to make most people’s head explode, it’s also beyond the resources of most SMEs.
Start memorising (and using) their names, find out if they prefer a double or triple espresso for breakfast and cuddle with their beautiful puppy.
“I think small businesses can have an advantage here,” says Magnus. “Being small makes your interactions more personal. In smaller operations you can memorise what you need to know about all your key customers. That gives you an edge technical data and numbers never can. It’s all about the human factor.”
So take an active interest in what your customers do, what their interests are and what they like. Start memorising (and using) their names, find out if they prefer a double or triple espresso for breakfast and cuddle with their beautiful puppy. The possibilities are endless – you just have to act on them. And have that espresso ready for them as they walk through the door.
Who wouldn’t like to be treated like a rockstar at their local café. That’s customer satisfaction per definition!
Do this today:
- If you don’t already know them, ask three of your regulars for their names.
- Set yourself a goal of learning (and remembering) something about at least three customers each day this week.
- Go the extra mile. Each week set yourself the challenge of doing something unexpected you’ve never done for a customer before.
Go the extra mile
“If you offer ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ and the customer wants ‘D’, see if you can give it to them,” says Magnus. “This level of individualisation breeds loyalty. Exceeding expectations and going the extra mile can be worth far more than loyalty cards or special offers.”
Going a bit further is a great way to make customers come back and get them talking about you. Meaning you gain loyalty, and also bring in new heads. Rock’n’roll!
One of the best examples of this is the Morton’s Steakhouse story.
Famous entrepreneur Peter Shankman heading onto a cross country flight made a joke tweet about wanting a Morton’s steak waiting for him when he landed. Lo and behold, when he touched down a Morton employee in a tuxedo was waiting for him with his very wish and some silver cutlery to go with it.
This may be a little extravagant for most small businesses, but it’s the kind of gesture you can take inspiration from. Perhaps you know a customer has a job interview coming up and can simply surprise them with a little good luck-cake when they walk in the door?
The customer may not really be a king, but you should do everything you can to make them feel like one. They’ll pay you back with loyalty.