It’s mid-July 2015 and we are celebrating summer activities; family vacations, picnics and summertime concerts. But as we get ready to move into the fall season, let’s set our sights on some ideas to generate repeat business.
The best opportunity for retailers to generate repeat business is for associates to create and build relationships with customers. We all stop at our local coffee shop in the morning to see Mary who gives us the big smile, knows when we are going on vacation, where we like to travel, if our children had a great experience at summer camp and what our plans are for back to school. Once you find your Mary, you won’t shop price and or seek out another, more convenient coffee house; your loyalty is towards Mary.
Here are my 6 repeat business ideas for replicating Mary at your business.
- Teach associates to greet people like they would welcome a new neighbor into their home. Communicate to front-line staff how important it is to smile and connect with customers as people first. It’s more important to find out about the customer than to know what’s in your inventory.
- Ask customers if they have ever been in your store before, whether they purchased something or not. If someone is new, tell them more about your business; the best places to park in the future, your hours, the type of merchandise you carry, how long you have been in business, other locations, return policies, customer experience philosophy. It will not only provide useful information, but more importantly, create a dialog and relationship.
- Always tell the customer you can help them. People like to feel they are speaking to a person who can help. The help might require asking another associate for advice, requesting more information or even referring a customer to a competitor. It’s not important how you help them, but showing the customer you care about answering their question or resolving their problem goes a long way.
- Listen to emotions. Pay attention to what customers are feeling, not just saying. Unless a person is totally robotic, they are most likely happy, frustrated, excited, disappointed, etc. By expressing, for example, “you sound disappointed we don’t have your size in stock. Let me double-check and get back to you,” will create a new and beneficial relationship.
- Have business cards printed up for all associates. It will make your staff feel more important and it’s an excellent way to invite the customer to return. The employee can say, “I really enjoyed helping you today. Here is my card with my contact information. Now that I know your tastes, I can let you know if we get something in stock you might like. Would you prefer me to email, call or text? Just let me know.”
- Keep in touch. Ninety percent of all retailers fail to show the customer they matter after the sale. That’s a big mistake. Just sending daily emails has a negative effect. Brainstorm with your team about the best ways to show customers they are relevant after they leave your store.
I grew up in a retail environment. My dad owned a men’s store and I worked there in my early teens. I learned two important lessons.
It was more important to listen and learn the customer’s state of mind than find out their method of payment
When new customers entered the store, they were strangers. My father hoped by the time they left, they had become new friends
If more retail executives understood why they visit the same coffee shop to see their Mary and taught their associates the concept of customers are people first, customer second, I guarantee the percentage of repeat customers would exponentially rise.