Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 Ways to Attract Repeat Customers

Written by: Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

There’s a misconception in retail that you need to gain new customers all the time when in reality, repeat customers are what any business should aim for. Of course, gaining new customers along the way should remain on any business owner’s to-do-list – but if you treat all customers in way that makes them want to return, merchants are more likely to gain long-term success.
Below are three strategies to help retailers and other small business owners alike in combating “one and only” sales and instead gaining repeat, loyal customers.

Employee Engagement 
Many businesses overlook the value of their employees and the impact they have on their customers. Particularly in retail, restaurant and service oriented businesses, employee and customer engagement is a key piece to the customer loyalty puzzle. The reason for this is actually very simple. People like to go to places that they enjoy, and they like to go places even more when they respect and enjoy the people who work there. This includes the employees – not just the owner or manager – whom they engage with.

Making employees a priority through customer service trainings, expectations and overall store standards can help create a destination that customers will enjoy not only for the product or services offered, but for the employees, as well. Setting standards within your own hiring and training habits can strengthen this, while delivering quarterly, bi-annual or at the very least, annual reviews can help, also.

Customer Value 
The Barking Cat storefront in Salem, MA is well known for it’s outstanding customer service and in return, repeat customers.
Christopher Barnard, President and Co-Founder of Points – a company dedicated to making loyalty programs more valuable and engaging – believes that offering rewards, miles or “points” is key in attracting repeat business.

“Today’s shoppers are looking for more than just products to buy: they’re also looking for points, miles and rewards to accompany their purchases. At Points, we recently surveyed over 1,500 loyalty program members from across North America to learn more about the ways that consumers want to earn with their favorite loyalty programs. The results revealed that the majority of shoppers have redemption goals in their programs (81%), and they are willing to work toward them. 66% percent of consumers agree that earning even small amounts of points or miles in a loyalty program is important to them,” explains Barnard.
Product Knowledge
Let’s face it – if you’re a small business owner competing with the big dogs like Walmart, Target TGT -0.97% or any other nationally recognized business, you have a few disadvantages at your side. This said, you also have countless advantages to your side… such as knowing your product or services offered better than anyone in your marketplace. By positioning your brand, store or business as a leader in product knowledge, customers will return to your business for stronger support, trusted expertise and valued insight over your competitors. Plus, this also puts you in a position to gain media attention by becoming your local market’s go-to-resource whenever it comes to needing insight on what you sell.

With this in mind, sharing your expertise is also a great way to lure consumers of other businesses to yours – particularly when combined with stellar employees and reward based incentives. In fact, the Points study mentioned earlier also revealed that 69% of consumers said they would break their own habits and buy a different brand or from a different company to earn more points or miles.  As Barnard explains, “this information can really help pave the way for retailers and merchants that are interested in developing a loyalty program to woo shoppers.”

To view the original article visit: Forbes