Satisfied and loyal customers equal a recipe for success: Ben Pfisterer explains how keeping your customers on side this holiday season can deliver big wins for small business.
With the festive season now upon us and Christmas shopping starting to ramp up, now is the time that businesses across the country are preparing their holiday marketing, updating in-store decorations and adding online specials. While it’s important to take the time to ensure all of your holiday logistics are in place, it’s also easy to get caught up in the crazy pre-Christmas period and forget about the most important component to your success – customers.
According to a recent Square survey, more than half of Square’s sellers (52%) across Australia listed attracting and retaining a loyal customer base as their biggest obstacle when it comes growing their business.
Even a five per cent increase in customer retention can boost profits up to 95 per cent, according to a 2014 study published by Harvard Business Review. So, satisfied loyal customers equal a healthy business. This sentiment doesn’t change over the holiday shopping period and should not be forgotten.
Employing the right business tools, strategies and tactics to maintain and build your customer relationships during the festive season is crucial. Here are some of Square’s customer service best practice insights that can be used to keep you in your customers’ good graces and help your business grow this holiday period.
Make it personal
Remember that your customers are not just paying for a product or service, they are paying for a great overall experience. This applies to both online and in-store experiences, shoppers are looking for you to be helpful and the process to be personal yet seamless.
Customer support is key, so having your employees engage face-to-face and tracking or remembering new requests or regular purchases can mean a lot, and it ensures that customers feel valued. Tools such as Square’s customer directory can help you keep track of customer data, notes, and feedback (both good and bad), so you can provide customers with a more personalised service and communication.
Stay in touch
Everyone wants to feel like they’re valued and kept in the loop. This means that it’s important to send newsletters, invitations and specialty emails to your loyal customer base. By monitoring your customers’ buying habits throughout the year, you can provide personalised offers for their favourite products and services to get them in the door in the lead-up to Christmas. This can help to make sure you keep any communications relevant to the recipients to ensure they see value in it and avoid it being perceived as spam.
Reward your customers for coming back, whether it’s with a digital software program or a traditional punch card. Loyalty programs serve as encouragement to return, and are especially helpful to differentiate your business from similar ones in your area. You can even consider partnering with neighbouring businesses or those that offer services and products complementary to yours, therefore providing more discounts or loyalty incentives to your customers.
Celebrate your customers
Honour loyal customers with special events, like an evening with private shopping in-store or VIP online discounts. In the lead up to Christmas it’s an easy way to engage and reward customers that shop with you throughout the year and make them feel appreciated. You might even extend the discount or private event to include your customers’ friends and family as a good way to spread the word and your brand.
Engage the community
Getting involved in your community gives you a chance to form beneficial relationships with neighbouring businesses, especially in the lead up to the end of the year. Consider partnering up and having a Christmas street party or sale with stores and restaurants in your area, offering special discounts or samples throughout the festive season. This is a good opportunity to engage new local customers and reward returning customers with more.
Think through your return policy
Purchases made during the Christmas period can sometimes experience the highest levels of returns, and while this can be seen as negative to your sales, remember that it’s also an opportunity to display an exceptional customer service experience and an opportunity to gain customer loyalty. If your return policy is difficult, it can be a very frustrating experience for customers and may result in you losing their future business. It’s a good idea to think through your return policy ahead of the Christmas rush to ensure your staff can turn a return into a great customer experience.
Don’t forget the little things
While big gestures are nice, it’s the little touches that stand out and keep customers returning. A special holiday treat with every purchase, a holiday dessert special, or a simple thank you card at the end of the year takes a small amount of effort but has a lot of impact. Square’s platform, for example, allows you to include a personalised holiday message on the invoices or e-receipts that you send.