Columnists Bob Epstein A loyal customer base leads to long term business success

A loyal customer base leads to long term business success

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The key to any successful business is a steady customer base, so building customer loyalty is critical for the growth and prosperity of yours. It’s widely known that it’s more expensive to recruit a new customer than it is to retain the one you have already won. In fact, a typical retailer will see as much as 80 percent of their business come from 20 percent of their customers. Nonetheless, it’s all too common for jewelers to neglect their invaluable, loyal customers, yet spend a large percentage of their marketing and advertising budget trying to attract new ones. The following suggestions should help build customer loyalty, offer a better shopping experience, and help lead to a more profitable business:

1. Create a service-oriented culture and vision. Train your staff to do everything possible to make the customer know how special they are, and go out of your way to meet their needs. Talk about this regularly, encouraging everyone to take ownership in the process.

2. Be loyal to your employees. If you are loyal to your employees, they will feel positive about their job, their enthusiasm will be apparent, and they’ll pass that loyalty on to your customers.

3. Be flexible. Each customer situation may be different, so adapt your policies to meet different demands.

4. Communicate with your customers on a regular basis. There are many ways to reach out and touch clients - a monthly newsletter, e-mail blasts, Facebook or Twitter updates or announcements, greeting cards for important customer dates (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.). If you aren’t yet tapping social media as a marketing tool, this is an important means of building customer loyalty and making regular contact in today’s highly connected world.

5. Solicit customer feedback, and do your best to implement suggestions. If you act on a suggestion, let the customer know. It’s nice to know when someone values your opinion.

6. Offer special customer incentives. It could be as simple as an additional discount card to use on their next purchase or free jewelry cleaning, but let them know their loyalty matters to you.

7. Handle complaints promptly and properly. Listen carefully to the customer and make every effort to resolve the issue. Let them know what you’re doing to correct the situation.

8. Be reliable. If you tell a customer that a ring you sized will be available on Tuesday, make sure it is available on Tuesday. If you can’t meet the deadline, call the customer well ahead of time, explain what happened without making excuses, and offer them a reward to offset the inconvenience.

9. Understand your competition. Study what your competitors are doing to attract and keep customers. Don’t be caught talking negatively about the competition; let the quality of your operation speak for itself.

10. Know your customers. Remember their names and faces, and make them feel welcome the minute they walk in your store. Keep a record of important dates, call to congratulate them, and offer a special bonus to help them celebrate. Organize your records to quickly reference past purchases and ask about them.

11. Go the extra mile. Try to give the customer everything they want and even something extra. This works even better when it’s unsolicited and unexpected.

It’s important to recognize that everyone in your organization is involved in creating and maintaining customer loyalty. Have regular meetings with your staff, and ask for their ideas about how to improve the buying experience for your clientele. When you consistently emphasize the importance of treating every customer with courtesy and respect, your business will prosper, and everyone will reap the benefits for a long time to come.

Bob Epstein is CEO of Silverman Consultants, LLC. Offering a legacy in sales strategies for jewelers since 1945, Silverman Consultants provides guidance to store owners seeking to turn around a business, sell off unwanted inventory, or liquidate an entire store. With offices located in Charleston, South Carolina; New York, New York; and Saskatoon, Canada; the company helps jewelry store owners and chains formulate strategies designed to maximize revenue in times of transition, whether due to retirement, store closing, or simply when needing a boost in sales. For more information, visit www.silvermanconsultants.com or call Bob direct at 800-347-1500.

 
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