In part 1 of this 3 part series on client retention, read it here, I talked about providing more value to your customers than you charge for, and why you should love your customer complaints. Today I’m covering customer service and do loyalty programs really work?
Customer Service or Pucker Up Buttercup
Sometimes referred to as butt kissing. I used this technique a lot when I owned a dance studio for kids. Please don’t ask, I have spent 18 years trying to block it out. <wink>
Seriously, it was a lot of fun. My daughter was a dancer, and it was so great to be around a lot of little girls who were so committed and worked so hard at something they loved. It brought me great joy to watch those kids dance.
The part that sucked the joy from my life was working with their parents, (aka my customers). Some complained about everything. The ones who complained were also the ones who paid late, didn’t bring their kids to class regularly, and sat in the waiting room complaining about everything to the other parents. If you are “that” parent, STOP IT! Nobody likes “that” parent.
Some business owners would have “fired” those customers, but I believe you can be right, or you can be rich. And while I didn’t give in to all of their demands, I picked my battles, and ultimately won the war. I kissed a little butt, (charmed them), and took great care of their children when they were in my studio, and some kids were in the studio 8-10 hours a week. I always made time to talk to the parents while their kids were in class. They knew I truly appreciated their business, but more importantly, they knew I cared about their kids.
Be Nice – My mom use to say, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” This is the easiest thing you can do to keep your customers coming back, just be nice.
Treat your customers the way you want to be treated. It really is that simple. When you find yourself in a tough spot, stop and ask yourself, how would you want to be treated?
If I treated my customers the way my vendor treats me, (referenced in part 1 of this series) well I guess I wouldn’t have to worry about the nasty vendor, because I would be out of business.
- Are you sincerely happy to see your customers when they come to you?
- Do you treat them as valued VIPs?
- Do you provide more value than you take in payment?
- Do you ask them what they really need and then listen?
- Do you refer them business if you are in a position to do so?
- Do your your employees understand all your customers are VIPs and treat then as such?
- Do you provide excellent customer service?
- Do you love customer complaints, because it’s feedback others won’t give you?
- Are you nice?
Do loyalty programs really work?
Well that depends on what you are offering your customers as a reward. The reward has to be of value to the customer. If the reward appears cheap, then you are better off not having a loyalty program because it makes you look like a cheapskate. Figure out a way to reward your clients with small amounts of what they want.
In the retail business I own, I recently joined the 21st century, and went from a punch card to an electronic check-in/points system. The electronic system gives me a lot of information about my customer that a punch card does not. I can see how much they spend each visit, how often they shop my store, and they are able to automatically get my monthly electronic newsletter, where I offer coupons, or they can decline that. If I ever wanted to do text marketing, I have that option. It's very affordable.
The punch card rewarded them with one free caramel apple after they purchased 12. I know that's what they want. They now earn points, so they can get to a FREE apple faster, because they get points on everything they buy and not just apples.
People like to get something for FREE, and they like to be acknowledged for their loyalty. Make it easy for them to be your customer. Don’t you hate it when you go into a place and they ask, do you have a coupon? You feel cheated because you are missing out on a discount. Make your loyalty program easy to use, and be grateful every time you get to give something away. It’s means you have happy customers.
For me a loyalty program makes sense. I realize my retail customers have a choice. I want to be that choice…each and every time. I'm happy to “bribe” my customers to shop with me.
If you are reading this and feel that you can't afford to give something away for free. As a business coach, that tells me you aren't making enough money. Since you now know how I treat my customers, you may want to reach out and ask for my complimentary More Clients/More Cash in 3 Easy Steps. Email me at: Jean@JeanKuhn.com
My next blog post will be on the final SECRET of client retention and the lesson is: Why “If You Build It They Will Come” is the Biggest Lie Ever Told.
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