Loyal customers are the backbone of your business, which is why you make every effort to keep loyal customers coming through your door.
One of the best ways to build customer loyalty is through exceptional customer service. Nine in ten Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
Of course, service is often in the hands of your employees. That means their actions play a big role in building customer loyalty. Here are four ways your staff can help you build lasting relationships that improve customer loyalty.
1. Reduce wait times
If you’re running a good business, you’ll have more customers in your store than employees. At some point, there’s going to be a line. Customers will be forced to wait their turn. That’s okay, as long as it’s handled properly.
If the line is moving at a good pace, customers are usually patient. However, if service won’t be provided quickly, it can cost you. A recent survey conducted by GreatClips, a hair salon franchise, shows 94 percent of customers believe that wait times between 5-10 are acceptable. After that, 48 percent of customers assume your business is poorly run, and 52 percent will take their business somewhere else.
As a business, you should do everything you can to keep wait times to a minimum, but here are some tips to keep customers happy if wait times are longer than usual:
- Acknowledge it
Acknowledge the customers waiting. If your computers have shutdown, or there’s a reason for the wait – explain it. Even if there’s just one customer waiting, a simple “I’ll be right with you,” is enough of an acknowledgment to keep a customer happy.
- Provide a wait time
If you run restaurant and have a backup of customers, provide an honest wait time.
- Provide an alternative
If an employee is working with a customer and won’t be available for a few minutes, find another employee to help.
- Provide a loyalty program script/pitch
Consistently building your loyalty program is important because you can’t bring back customers without making them members. While it may be tempting to bypass the signup process during busy times, it’s actually prime-time to add more members. Make the process as easy as possible by providing your staff a quick, effective, “script” or “pitch” they can easily memorize and say to sign up members.
Here are additional tips for training your staff to successfully build your customer loyalty program.
2. Encourage personal interaction
Encourage your employees to take an active interest in the lives of your loyal customers. If they take time to learn the names of the frequent customers that buy a cup of coffee, or exchange stories with a mom that shops for her daughter on a regular basis, they’ll build a relationship with your core audience.
Relationships lead to more than sales, they lead to frequent sales from loyal customers.
3. Send employees on a recon mission
Send an employee or two on a little field trip to visit competing stores. Ask them to focus on the customer experience. Do they welcome you as you come in the door? Is the staff friendly and attentive, or are they huddled in a corner ignoring customers? What’s the checkout process like? How did you feel when you left the store?
Ask your employee to jot down a few notes in the car after each stop. Then, sit down with the employee and talk about their findings. Ask employees to use this information to create an afternoon workshop to improve your customer service.
This exercise is a great way to empower your employees while building customer loyalty at the same time.
4. Show appreciation
Everyone loves a “thank you.” A few kind words and a gesture of appreciation go a long way. Train your employees to say, “Thanks for shopping with us,” to every customer at the checkout. And get your employees involved in planning a customer appreciation event.
Ask your employees to come up with a theme and decorate the store. You want your employees invested in the process, and invested in your customers. The more control you can give them over small events like this, the more connected and involved they feel.
Here are a few additional customer appreciation ideas you can implement:
- Handwritten thank you cards
Consider having staff write thank you cards to your most loyal customers. In a world of tweets and texts, a handwritten card is a nice gesture.
- In-store treats and samples
From a bowl of candy to once-a-month donut day, providing a few treats is a nice way to say thanks. Have your staff mention the treats to customers as they come and go. Studies also found that servers who provided customers candy during a transaction, received a 20% increase in tips. Not only do customers appreciate the small gesture, but repay generosity in return.
- Giveaway swag
Have your logo put on a few pieces of promotional material (pens, magnets, pins, etc.) and give it away. Everyone loves to get something for free. Again, get your staff involved by asking them what to giveaway.
How does your staff build customer loyalty? Share your tips in the comment section below.