In order to develop true customer loyalty, the shopping experience must feel like more than just a transactional exchange. Gestures of appreciation are important to remind customers they are important.
It is innate in human nature to be suspicious of someone who does not express interest in us after money has changed hands. Reaching out to express appreciation provides an opportunity for a true human connection. Pick any company customers say they “love.” You will find they make sure their customers know they matter. Customers will not want to pursue a “love affair” unless they know they are important.
Remembering customers after the transaction is rarely included in a company’s overall customer service strategy. This is a mistake and should be an integral part of the master plan. Companies think that sending emails on a regular basis, providing discount coupons and announcements of future sales is a way to keep in touch with customers. However, it’s not enough, especially the constant email bombardment; that is more annoying than anything else. What is needed are procedures, policies and training for staff to show customers they matter in the regular course of doing business.
Companies recognize that it is important to have processes in place to react to issues. However, what is less obvious is the neglect that customers feel when a company can’t be easily reached when a problem or question arises. Telephone contact numbers are not published or difficult to find and contact pages hidden. Customers are in a holding pattern for long periods of time and return policies are inflexible. All these send a message to the customer that the company really doesn’t care about them or if they remain loyal.
A good example of furthering the connection and making a customer feel important is as follows. A mother of the bride purchases a beautiful dress for her daughter’s once in a lifetime occasion. The boutique does all the right things; they have knowledgeable sales professionals, excellent fitters and tailors and meet all the time commitments. That may be sufficient, but perhaps not. To really show the customer they matter, the salesperson should pick up the phone a week later and ask about the wedding and the gown. How was the party? Was it everything she envisioned and hoped for? Tell your customer that she and her daughter were in your thoughts.
Those questions would make the customer feel good and know that her money was well spent. I can promise you that even if this customer won’t be buying another evening gown, she will recommend your store to all her friends.
Have your staff come up with ways to show customers that they are still important after the transaction has been completed. Add the human element and touch. That sale might be over, but the customer experience will continue to flourish.