By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, forbes.com
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.
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.
Keeping employees top of mind isn’t the only piece to the customer loyalty puzzle. Customers are a key ingredient here, and they want to believe you recognize this, as well. Delivering experiences that make your customers feel valued and appreciated is a great way to gain repeat, loyal customers. Among the ways you can do this is as simple as expressing gratitude – communicating a sincere “thank you” goes a long way – but even more so, offering incentives for referrals and repeat business is both recognized and valued by customers. Their response to your actions not only increase your sales, but strengthen your brand reputation.