Surprise Me! Network Blog | By Unknown | January 22, 2013
Are you beginning a customer loyalty program for your business? Or are you hoping to gain some additional awareness and exposure for your current loyalty program? Before you can begin to see the results of your program, you need to make sure your customers know about it and understand what it is.
Because customer loyalty programs are common in many locations, your customers may already be on the lookout for any clues that suggest you are offering a program as well. If they aren’t, however, you’ll want to let them know about the first time they stop by your business.
Below are a few effective ways for spreading the word about your loyalty program.
Your customer loyalty program is in your business location, so it makes sense to promote it within your location. Whether you own a restaurant, a coffee shop, or a shoe store, including messaging about your loyalty program is a sure way to sign up more participants. Mention the program at your cash register, on your menus, and on in-store signs. Also, train your employees to talk about your program to each customer as well. This will all help encourage your customers to join your program.
If your business has the budget, utilize different forms of media to spread the word about your loyalty program. Radio commercials are still an effective form of advertising, as are television commercials. If these are a bit too pricey, however, think of print advertising in local publications. Also, online advertising is an affordable and targeted way to promote your program. The main thing to keep in mind is to promote your loyalty program where your customers are looking. Once you get your messaging in front of them, you’ll see more sign ups.
Sell the Benefits of Your Loyalty Program
Before any customer signs up for your loyalty program, they’ll want to hear the benefits. Make sure that, no matter how you promote your program, you keep the benefits of the program at the forefront of your messaging. If you offer free surprises or goods for frequenting your location, tell people. If you give away discount codes to your loyal customers, tell people. All these benefits will convert more infrequent customers to frequent customers.
When your customer loyalty program is adopted by your prime customer base, you are building a quality crowd of return customers who will keep coming back and spending money at your business. With a successful loyalty program, your business can count on revenue, and you’ll see it succeed.
Click here for more information about how to spread the word about your loyalty program.
How does your business spread the word about your loyalty program?
Which way is most effective for your company?
What are other effective ways you can inform customers about your program?
As we enter 2013, the business world remains in a state of uncertainty. Will the economy recover? Will new taxes be in place? Regardless of what happens, your key to success will lie in one thing: customer loyalty.
Customer loyalty builds your business when times are good and keeps you in business when times are bad.
Customer loyalty makes your revenue both more predictable AND more profitable since it costs far more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.
How do you keep customers loyal? Simple:
1. Create and market products that make it easier for your customers to sell to their customers. When building your strategies, start with the needs of your customers’ customers and work backwards to discover how you can be the most helpful.
2. Anticipate what your customers might need from your firm and handle it long before they’re aware they need it. Your goal: provide such incredible service that your customers feel like they’d be crazy to even consider buying from anyone else.
3. Provide extra value that goes far beyond the customer’s expectations of your products and services. For example, find customers for your customers so that they can build their own business and thus give more business to you!
4. Whenever possible, meet your customers in social situations rather than purely business ones. Trade shows and industry events are great, but attending a charity event where your customers will be present is even better.
5. Be more than just a vendor.
Have a great 2013, everyone!
What are you doing to build customer loyalty in 2013?
Have you ever met with your customers in a social setting? Where?
The National Business Research Institute (NBRI) recently published an infographic detailing why customer loyalty is important, what customer loyalty is, the problem or disconnect between businesses and their customers, the solution for improving customer loyalty and the future of “customer delight.”
“Customers are a business’ most important asset, without them the business wouldn’t exist. So it’s imperative to keep these customers happy and improve their loyalty to your business,” NPRI explains. “We created this customer loyalty infographic to help you not only understand it, but to help you cultivate that loyalty among your own customers.”
We found NPRI’s presentation of the importance of customer loyalty in today’s economic society not only helpful and insightful, but easy to digest with specific details that would apply in a variety of business settings.
What details included in this infographic surprised you?
Where do you think your business falls regarding the problem and the solution?
When considering that the decision-making process is 30% logic and 70% emotion, how do you feel that affects your business?
What can you change to help improve your customers’ loyalty?
Real Results: How Did Bristol Toyota Scion Create a Valentine’s Day Email Campaign with a 58% Open Rate?
Everyone knows Valentine’s Day celebrates the ladies. That’s why Bristol Toyota Scion in Bristol, Rhode Island, recently used its points-based service rewards program, to conduct an email campaign centered on Valentine’s Day being “Ladies’ Day.” Colorful, Valentine’s-themed emails were sent to all of their service reward members, with the subject line, “Be Our Valentine – View Your Gift Inside.” The email included an offer: Ladies Receive $15 Off Any Service of $35 or More. The campaign ran on February 10th, with available redemption being from February 10th thru the 18th.
This was the first promotion Bristol Toyota Scion had ever done since adding LoyaltyTrac as its service rewards program for loyal customers; it resulted in a very heartening open rate of 58.33%, far surpassing the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) average of 12-14% for opt-in lists.
Other LoyaltyTrac auto dealerships achieved similar results with this Valentine’s Day-themed email campaign. Howdy Honda in Austin, Texas, ran the same campaign and enjoyed an open rate of over 30%. The campaign also resulted in 41 service appointments scheduled and a nice profit too; one week after the email campaign was launched, Howdy Honda was showing an estimated campaign revenue of more than $8,700.
Specially designed email campaigns themed around holidays and events can boost return business throughout the year. It’s key to engage users with content that is informative, easy to digest and adds value.
How have you used non-traditional marketing practices to drive more customers into your business and build loyal relationships with those customers?
I recently had an experience that had me wondering what ever happened to the maxim: “The customer is always right.” It was coined and made famous by retailers including Selfridges and Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) around the turn of the 20th century. It’s a phrase that most of our parents and grandparents had ingrained into their brains as children, and yet it somehow appears to have been lost in translation among the generations – and businesses – born within the last 20 to 30 years.
With my over 15 years of personal experience in customer service, it is surprising to me that so many businesses have either forgotten this key factor in customer loyalty and retention, or – worse – they simply don’t see its relevance in today’s society.
While many of my recent experiences as a customer would lead me to believe that I – as a customer – am no longer as important or “right” as a company’s profit margin, I don’t think I’m the only one around left wondering what happened to the importance of the customer experience. In my quest to discover what happened to the application of this seemingly lost phrase, I googled it word-for-word and came up with over 5.25 million hits, with over 170,000 blog posts involving the saying in the last 12 months alone.
So I asked myself, “Is the Customer Still Always Right?”
One post I found on American Express Open Forum indicates that there is a secret that many business owners are perhaps loath to acknowledge: the customer is not always right. Andy Beal, CEO at Trackur, emphasizes that “some customers are so wrong, you sometimes feel like a fired-up baseball umpire that just wants to get in the face of your customers and scream at them just how wrong they are.
“So now that we’ve acknowledged that the customer is not, in fact, always right,” Beal continues, “why is this adage so popular? … You see, the customer is not always right. But, and it’s a big “but,” the customer always thinks they are right.”
I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I think, in some way or another, we have all been there. We’ve been the business professional dealing with someone akin to the Vinegar Boy’s mother, where we’re frustrated to the point of exasperation and cannot possibly understand where the customer is coming from or how they even feel justified behaving the way they’re behaving. We’ve also been that customer (although perhaps to a lesser degree of intensity and higher degree of being in the right); whether the facts can be supported or not, we feel that we have been wronged and we’re looking for some type of resolution.
“That’s what’s important to remember,” Beal explains. “There may be many incidents where you know that the customer is 100 percent wrong, and couldn’t be any more wrong if their name was Mr. W. Rong from Wrongsville, Wronginham. The key is to swallow your pride and look beyond the need for you to justify your company’s actions.”
Beal concludes by advising us to “treat your customers the way you would want to be treated—even if you knew you were not right – and your business will flourish because word of mouth will treat you well and you won’t get distracted by the Mr. W. Rong’s of the world.”
I think this is great advice that is too frequently forgotten. We all learned how to apply the “Golden Rule” to others in grade school. We are all human and we all make mistakes – businesses and customers alike, but if you want to strengthen the relationships you have with your customers and keep them loyal, then knowing exactly who is right and who is wrong doesn’t matter in most situations. The important thing to focus on is that the customer always deserves to be treated right and with a professional respect and courtesy.
As a business owner, however, we need to understand that our employees are also – in a sense – our customers. Another article, posted on Customer Service Point, reminds us to remember that “You’re in business. And in business you don’t have to take every deal. You can draw the line at abusive behavior by the customer. You can draw the line at customers lying to take advantage. You can draw the line at customers stealing. In fact, you can draw the line anywhere you want.”
The important thing for you to decide as a business is where that line is going to be drawn, and then be consistent. When managing a call center, I acknowledged that sometimes customers just need to vent their frustration. Once they understood they were being heard, they would usually calm down and we’d be able to determine a course of action together. However, sometimes these customers became verbally abusive, offensive or irreconcilable; it was when this behavior changed, especially to our front-line representatives, that we drew the line.
When a customer crosses the “unacceptable behavior” line, your concern should not be for the customer so much as for your employee and your business. The Customer Service Point article continues by explaining that “when a customer actually does cross the line, you can tell them that you no longer want their business. And at that point, they cease to have the right to be right.
“The customer is always right. But not all customers need to stay customers.”
Do you think the saying, “The customer is always right” is still important for businesses today? Why? Why not?
Did you read the Vinegar Boy story? Do you think the employee (Aaron) was right? What about how the manager responded to the situation? Would you have handled things differently? How?
How have you trained your employees to handle “wrong” customers the “right” way?
Where do you think that businesses should “draw the line” of when the customer is right and when the customer is wrong?