Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Customer Service
Seven considerations to secure repeat customers


April 30, 2012
By Richard Shapiro

Topics

April 30, 2012 – While every company can only survive by generating
repeat customers, few have programs in place that specifically focus on
encouraging customer engagement.

April 30, 2012 – While every company can only survive by generating
repeat customers, few have programs in place that specifically focus on
encouraging customer engagement. With the advent of social media,
consumers have become the voice of the brand, but who represents the
voice of the company?

Frontline associates are the interface between the organization and the
company's most important asset; their customers. Richard Shapiro,
founder and president of The Center For Client Retention, details how
businesses can improve their customer service – and boost their profits –
in his new book, The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Customers.

Companies can generate revenue and increased profits by implementing these seven considerations for securing repeat customers:

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1.    Engage customers

Providing good customer service does not automatically result in repeat
business; a relationship needs to be established. Relationships can be
created by making an excellent first impression, by smiling and being
friendly, letting the customer know the associate's name even if it is
on their badge, asking the customer for their name and having a dialogue
with a customer that communicates to them that the frontline associate
sees them as a person first, a customer second. The retention journey
must start with an engaged consumer, otherwise the business is focusing
on today instead of leveraging the consumer encounter to generate
business for tomorrow.

2.     Express customer and associate appreciation

In many retail transactions, consumers feel that their business is not
appreciated. Many frontline associates act robotically or indifferent.
Even when they say thank you, the customer is left with an empty
feeling. Expressing customer appreciation in a meaningful manner conveys
that the customer's business is welcomed, important and appreciated.
Customers do not like to feel their business is being taken for granted
and if it is, they will make their purchases at another establishment.
Equally as important is having companies demonstrate the same
appreciation to those associates who appreciate their customers. It's a
two-way street.

3.  Provide hassle-free experiences

Too many businesses have rules in place whereby customers feel it is a
hassle to do business with them. Every company needs policies and
procedures in place, but organizations should ensure that the policies
not deter the customer from returning tomorrow.

4. Implement a three-pronged approach

All interactions with customers should be segmented into three distinct
stages: the greet, the assist and the leave-behind. The purpose of the
greet is to make the customer feel welcomed and want to engage with the
frontline associate. The assist includes helping the customer by
learning about them as a person and what their specific needs are. It
also includes providing them with additional useful information beyond
what a label or instructions might contain. The Leave-Behind
communicates a direct message to consumers that the associate wants to
personally serve them again. Such actions as giving the consumer a
business card, informing them of the associates' work schedule and
telling the consumer to ask for them by name, all relay a feeling they
that want the consumer to return.

5. Listen for the magical phrases
   
There are certain phrases that consumers say in passing that should
never be ignored by company associates. Such consumer comments as, "This
is the
first time I'm in your store," or "I recently moved into the
neighbourhood," should elicit a response that indicates to the customer
that the associate is listening. If someone just moved into the
neighbourhood, finding out why they entered your establishment would
provide excellent information and would help to engage the customer
enough to create an initial relationship.

6. Interview customers

In market research, there is a common guide that a sample of 100 will
provide sufficient data to make certain assumptions. Owners and
management of businesses should interview at least 100 consumers to find
out what they like, what they don't like, their opinion of the
company's frontline associates, etc. Conducting interviews (not
electronic surveys) with a sampling a customers who purchase, as well as
those that didn't, can benefit any business.

7. Think about the ROI
 
Those frontline associates that bring back the "personalization" in
service deserve to be recognized and rewarded appropriately. Most
consumers divide their purchases among several businesses; employing
associates who drive customers to do business with your organization
instead of your competitors  are worth more to your company. Hiring
quality personnel who are welcoming, engaging and who can make your
customers feel important will be an investment, but it will provide an
excellent return.