How to make your customers smile and buy…and buy again and again.
Part 1: The basics of service and appeal in building customer relationships
Picture this: You buy from a store or website and have a good experience: price is right, sales process simple…all according to plan. You’re likely to go back and buy again, right? So next time you need that product, what do you do? You jump online and search.
Repeat customers: Everybody is HAPPY!
So many companies – large and small – place their marketing strategies and dollars in the acquisition of new customers, when repeat business is where the money is. A recent marketing white paper published by Adobe states that US marketers must attract FIVE customers to equal the revenue of ONE repeat customer. So why is the focus on drawing in new customers when the current ones are actually more valuable?
Building top-of-mind and repeat business is one of the most difficult aspects of marketing in a time when customers are bombarded with ads, social connections, and seemingly limitless choices. With so many bright and shiny new companies aggressively marketing to your customers, you’re instinct is to fight fire with fire.
For a business to succeed online or offline, it’s essential that you maintain that initial connection with a customer and work to build a long-term relationship – develop customer loyalty – and become their go-to company.
Like any relationship, the likelihood of us being “a thing” is very basic: we either connect or we don’t. That initial connection is based on some very basic criteria – “the primal factors”:
- Satisfaction of needs
- Physical appeal
Satisfaction of needs
Your business will appeal first to those who need what you have. That’s not to say you cannot develop that need (that’s another topic). There’s no sense in a customer shopping in your store if there is not a match between what they need and what you sell. So focusing on knowing what your customer needs and delivering on that need is key. The key words here: knowing what your customer needs. Know that and ensure your products and services match are half the battle.
We’re all wired to be attracted to something that is physically appealing. Personal preferences for symmetry, color, and other traits set off the rewards system in our brain. That rewards system makes us want and buy. Physical appeal can pertain to anything from the colors on your website to the presentation staff of your floor staff. While you’ll find many people choose company colors based on their own personal preference, understanding what colors will provide a better response – set off the right neurotransmitters – will go a lot further with your customer than choosing your own favorite color.
A guy comes up to you on the street, opens up his trench coat and says, “Wanna buy a Rolex?” What do you think? Is it a real Rolex? Is it even a working watch? Sure, it’s an obvious example, yet how many websites have you been to that you wondered, “Is this for real?”
Establishing a level of confidence and authenticity with your customers means presenting your products in a safe environment and creating an authentic platform that says you’ll deliver on your promise. For example, at a brick and mortar the products should look authentic (example, packaging intact and current); on a website, there are product photos and the sales process is secure.
So tackle what I call the first level of marketing: the “face” of your brand. Ensure you meet the basic criteria – those primal factors – that establish a relationship.
- Check out your First Impression: Is it really nice to meet you?
- Brand identity clear and inviting?
- Is the brand memorable?
- Is it clear that you can help the customer?
- What is your Shopping Process like? Secret-shop your store or site; be the customer…
- Are you greeted in a friendly yet non-intrusive way?
- How does the merchandise look?
- Is the merchandise well organized?
- Is the product or service information clear?
- Is the product good?*
- Is the sales staff pleasant, helpful, and well educated on the product?
- How was Your Close? When will I see you again?
- Was the purchase easy, fluid, and unencumbered?
- Were the payment methods common?
- How about courtesy – were thank you and please used appropriately and the actions genuine?
- Is there a loyalty process in place? Was it awkward and intrusive or natural?
- Are there any “comeback perks” offered?
*Is the product good? is an important question that needs to be revisited regularly. Does it still meet the customers’ needs? Is it actually good – for example, how many restaurants have you been to with bad food?
It won’t be easy to look closely and honestly at the answers to the above questions. And the answers might not reveal what you are expecting. Setting the right framework will ensure that you don’t waste your time with marketing to new or current customers; because if your are not “dating material” it won’t matter how much you spend on marketing: your business cannot survive on one-time customers only.
Looking closely at your business practices – and those “primal factors” – will help you to establish the very basics of a business that’s ready to develop a relationship. AND it will help establish VERY HAPPY customers – the kind that are more likely to be loyal, repeat customers.
No relationship is easy, but following the steps I’m outlining here will take you from “boring one night stands” to valuable and rewarding long-term relationships.
In the next post we’ll look at 5 ways to go beyond the first meeting and developing an “exclusive” relationship with your customers. Stay tuned…