How To Use Customer Service As a Loyalty-Building Tool
Good customer service is an important goal for any company. Customers who have bad experiences are not only unlikely to come back, but are also likely to spread the bad word to friends and associates or to publish bad reviews on review sites. In addition, it’s six times more expensive to obtain a new customer than it is to retain an old one.
Offering quality customer service is an excellent way to build customer loyalty. Retailers can use a variety of means to improve customer service and grow customer loyalty. Personalization, highly trained staff members, beacon technology, strategies for dealing with showrooming, and offering a wide choice of customer service channels can all enhance customer loyalty.
Here’s how to use each of those methods to improve your business’ customer service:
We live in the age of data and retailers who use the information they collect on their customers send relevant offers that are valuable to the customer. As a result, they see improved sales and greater customer loyalty. In a recent National Retail Federation Big Show in New York City, Mindy Heintskill, Vice President of Loyalty and Personalized Marketing for Walgreens affirmed that personalization is the key to the success of their Balance Rewards program.
Heintskill says that messages based on customer purchase history and preferences help them retain loyal customers. Discounts and offers on products a customer likes and alerts on new products that might be of interest to a customer are effective ways to provide personalized marketing.
Train your staff
Yes, a good staff is the key to excellent customer service. Make sure your employees are well-trained on products, procedures and policies. Staff members should know the merchandise inside and out and have a high level of understanding of store policy, sales, promotions, loyalty clubs, and events. They should be able to solve the problem as quickly as possible and know which steps to take in order to provide the customer with a solution.
Any customer should be able to approach any salesperson and receive the information they’re looking for without having to go through other channels or ask other staff members. Feel free to borrow Steve Jobs’ five principles of customer service (who expanded on the Ritz-Carlton’s three steps):
- Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome
- Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
- Present a solution for the customer to take home today
- Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
- End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Give them options for customer service channels
Customers today are using multiple devices when they’re shopping and customer service has had to evolve to provide shoppers with optimal service on all of the platforms they use. However, it’s not enough to offer channels for customers to contact you through – you also have to understand their needs and expectations that are unique to each platform:
- Via text messaging. Automated texting is great for time-sensitive customer communication: order status checks, alerts about new inventory items, reminders for payments and deliveries, etc. Why? 98 percent of texts are open vs. 22 percent of emails.
- On social media. 42 percent of customers expect a response in an hour or less when they reach out via social media. Make sure you’re equipped to provide quick and effective responses on this channel.
- In person. Though 44 percent of customers believe that digital and self-service are the best customer service options, 83 percent say that in-store customer service will always be an essential part of good customer service.
Also, be proactive and collect feedback from your customer on a regular basis. A quick mobile poll or survey shared via email and social media can help – ask about their experience and preferences. Otherwise, the unsatisfied customers can keep silence but never visit your store again.
Employ beacon technology
Beacons are the digital lighthouses that are linked to your brand’s app. In fact, when you adopt beacon technology for your business, you can do away with loyalty physical cards and make everything digitalized. It’s more convenient for you to keep track of information gathered through your app and more convenient for the customer to not have to take their physical card when they go shopping.
If a customer has downloaded your app, you can use beacon technology to let you know when the customer enters your store and what area of the store they seem to be spending the most time in. If they’re paused in the section for headphones, you may want to ping them with a discount on headphones.
Anticipating customer needs and interests cuts down on them having to hunt for products and offering a discount shows that you value their business and wish to reward them for stopping by.
Work with showrooming
A customer enters your store and browses through your merchandise while researching on the internet for similar products at better prices. This is an inevitable part of retail nowadays and businesses are better off trying to find ways to work with showrooming rather than fighting against it. One way to use showrooming to your advantage is to offer price matching.
If a customer is able to show you a better price, offer to match it. Make sure you advertise your price-matching policy with in-store banners, on your website and across social media. Though most customers are looking for prices, many are also looking at product reviews.
Make sure your merchandise is getting reviewed on popular review sites (like Amazon Customer Reviews, Angie’s List, Consumer Report, Google My Business and Yelp) so customers who are looking for quality are tempted to buy at your store.
A focus on quality customer service can greatly enhance your customer loyalty. Employ effective methods like sending personalized messages based on customer purchase histories and make sure your staff members are well trained in customer service and knowledgeable about your products.
Remember to use different communication platforms so that your customers choose the one that’s most convenient to them – this impacts customer loyalty too.
Alexa Lemzy is the customer service manager and content editor at TextMagic, a texting solution for business. She manages client relationships every day, and does her best to learn every lesson of this uneasy yet fascinating craft. Alexa loves to share her advice about customer loyalty building and small business development. You can check out her Twitter.
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