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Consumers have more choices than ever before. Whether they’re shopping for a sofa or a toothbrush, a pair of boots or even dog food, there’s a plethora of sites and stores shoppers can peruse to find exactly what they are looking for. The challenge is to get consumers to choose your business over all the others. The key is to create a meaningful, personalized experience that sets you apart and makes people want to become repeat customers. Let’s take a look at the practices and tools you can tap into to satisfy (and pleasantly surprise) consumers.
Greet them warmly.
If your business is based on reservations, like a salon or a restaurant, you have the advantage of knowing visitors’ names when they arrive, so use that to your advantage: greet them by name and make them feel welcome. If they’re repeat customers, look at the type of services they had or items they ordered on previous visits to get a sense of what they like. Add a complimentary service (like a scalp massage at a salon) or item (a small box of chocolates at the end of the meal) to thank them for paying your business another visit.
Take feedback to heart.
Anyone can send a survey (and if you look at your inbox, it seems like everyone does), but only truly customer-focused businesses actually use survey results to enact changes. Send shoppers a survey when they make a purchase, but only every quarter or so. To boost the likelihood that customers will fill them out, keep the surveys short and to the point, and, in exchange for their time, offer them a free gift or a discount on a future purchase. Pay attention to the feedback. Long wait times? Start scheduling more employees at busy times. Unfriendly atmosphere? Conduct a training to properly educate staff members about customer interaction policies. Learn from customers, and use their feedback to create the kind of experiences that will make them want to come back again and again.
Practice social listening.
In addition to sending out surveys, pay attention to what people are saying about your business online, on every platform from Instagram to Yelp. Are customers talking about an especially attentive server? Griping about late service? Recommending a certain appetizer? Not only should you monitor, or “listen” to, what people are posting online, but you should also respond to both positive and negative comments and attempt to rectify any issues with dissatisfied customers.
Make the extra effort.
Sometimes the thing that makes a customer choose between your business and a competitor has nothing to do with what you sell. Maybe it’s the tiny cups of whipped cream, or “puppuccinos,” for dogs at Starbucks. Perhaps it’s the comfy couches and complimentary cold beverages outside the fitting rooms, like at Bonobos. These thoughtful gestures help create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere where customers aren’t just making a transaction but having an experience.
Show customers your appreciation.
If you want to show customers that you truly value them, then show them. From hosting in-store thank-you events (complete with snacks and drinks) to emailing special discounts or offering free gifts with purchase when shoppers tag you on social media, there are countless ways to thank your customers. An important way to show your appreciation is to never forget that your customers’ time is valuable, so before you send them an email, make sure it’s worth it. Are you alerting them about a special event? Telling them about the arrival of new products based on their preferences and past purchases? Offering them a discount for being a frequent customer? If you prove to your audience that opening your email is always worthwhile, they’ll be less likely to unsubscribe, and more likely to remain loyal customers.