When it comes to running a store, return customers are essential because there are a finite number of people in a given area.
Creating a place that compels customers to come back is not altogether complicated. Generally speaking, if they feel comfortable and you provide what they need, why would they not come back?
Here is a 5-step plan for gaining loyal customers that doesn’t require you to drop a ton of money into the advertising budget.
1. Keep customer records & analyze them to gain insight.
Just as with any other aspect of your business, you have to keep records of customer activity to learn how you can improve their experience. Some things that are helpful to document are:
What they buy and the quantity, how long they spend at your business, how much each person is spending, and even what times they come in.
What do customers frequently ask you for, which you don’t have? In addition to what they are telling you they want, you can anticipate their needs by looking at their prior purchases and stocking similar products.
Data is one of the most valuable things to a business because it is so telling of what people want from you, and what is missing from your store.
2. Try to get on a first-name basis, without hassling them.
This is something you can practice yourself, as well as encourage your staff to do the same. When you go just a little out of your way to pay attention to someone, they will remember it and be more likely to come back to you, over a competitor.
So, if you recognize a customer, try and find a way to say hello, introduce yourself, and if possible, get their name (without being annoying and creepy). Naturally, you won’t be able to do this with everyone, and if you can see they just want to be left alone, it is of course better to respect that.
3. Create an inviting atmosphere.
Setting up an environment that is welcoming and comfortable for customers involves various elements, including lighting, layout, decoration, etc.
Probably one of the most important elements is how everything is laid out; be sure that everything in the store is easy for customers to find. All you really have to do is take a walk around and get a feel for it; if you don’t feel comfortable, then your customers won’t either.
4. Inspire your staff to provide exceptional service.
Your staff is an extension of the business, and more than that, they present an opportunity to communicate the values of your company in a powerful way, like ambassadors to your customers.
This is why team members should be friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful to give everyone who comes into the store the best impression. You may not even have what a customer wanted to buy, but once they leave, they will remember a positive experience they had with your team, which makes them more likely to return.