In preparing for this article on breaking down barriers to a small business owners’ success, I saw an article written by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, the founder of Retail Minded, an online resource for independent retailers and other small business owners in the Shopify Blog . I’m sharing the gist of her article here with my viewpoints in line with Asian experiences.
We’ve understood some reasons as to why we lose customers.
But let’s be really honest with ourselves – which is harder really, attracting a new customer or keeping an existing one?
It was disheartening to find many small business owners I spoke to reply ‘Of course keeping an existing one’
I found it disheartening because these are people whom I have seen put in their heart and soul into their business, working hard for its success – and to me, they’ve missed out on a golden opportunity to make their own lives easier.
Especially when you consider that attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one!
“So how would a business create an environment where there is customer loyalty and long term profitability after the first transaction?”
The answer lies in having a strategy in place – a post-purchase strategy that keeps customers engaged:
- Keeping an Ongoing Emotional Connection
- Giving A Reason for Customers to Care (and Share)
After both of the above become part of our customer service strategy, there must be a certain amount of consistency in post-purchase communications.
For this week though, I’m going to focus on keeping an ongoing emotional connection.
Feelings drive buying decisions. Research shows us that emotions fuel customer choices before, during, and after purchases. How many times have you been at a store, and bought something not on your mental shopping list?
The reality is that people’s buying decisions are influenced daily, and this can be seen from the impact of a multi-billion dollar advertising industry globally. Advertisements seek to engage the viewers/readers emotions, and these emotions play a huge impact on buying decisions.
So your customers too spend based on their emotions, and they’d likely spend more at your business if they felt emotionally charged to do so. The question, of course, is how do you trigger these post-purchase emotions?
Customers can only cultivate an emotional connection with your business if they have an avenue, or multiple avenues, to do so. This can include:
- email marketing;
- hand-written thank-you notes; and,
- social media.
Each of these avenues can lead to customer engagement and future purchase opportunities. But none will lead anywhere if you make these avenues full of friction for shoppers. That’s why your goal should be to make your customer connections as easy, seamless, and comfortable as possible.
Having these avenues organized, in place, and ready to be distributed will make your efforts more streamlined and effective. As a result, this can lead to stronger post-purchase customer engagement.
That means you should build a formal strategy to create and automate some (or all) of these communications. Take some time to map out each communication with details on the messaging, when it’s triggered, and the goal (i.e. return to your business, share a promotion with friends, etc.).
For example, you can make it a policy that any purchase that exceeds a specific amount — whether it’s $100, $500, or $1,000, based on your average daily sales — should require a thank-you note to the customer to show your appreciation for their business. Luxury retailers like Burberry make written thank-you notes a primary part of their customer service strategy.
This can be limited to higher-than-average sales, but don’t overlook even the smallest purchases made at your store. All customers deserve some post-purchase TLC, so create strategies that will engage consumers whether they’ve spent a little or a lot in store.
In fact, each message should be an extension of your ‘brand’ (business) and should help solidify that brand-customer bond by giving them a reason to care. More on a reason to care next week.
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder of Retail Minded and co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. In addition to helping small businesses and retailers build their businesses, she’s also served as spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014.