You are a brand new business and you want to attract and retain customers. What is the first thing you do to find customers? Maybe you advertise in a local paper or on television; or maybe a walking poster (you know where you hire someone to walk around outside of your business with a giant poster on advertising your business); or maybe a mass mailing. Whatever it is, you do something to reach some unknown customers in hopes they will come to your store and shop. There will be the curious who will come in for a look see. But the mainstay customers are not so easy to lure in. But if you have done your homework (great visuals, great staff, a marketing plan, a great product and a little luck), you will attract those customers too! Once they are in the door, how do you partner with them? How do get them to see that you have a mutual interest? You have something they want (your product) and they have something you want (their money and loyalty).
Start out by creating a relationship with your customer. Get to know them as intimately as you can. Know their name. When they come in the door, have a raffle, a guest book, a customer savings program or anything that will allow you collect customer data. Once you have that information, take the time to acknowledge the customer…thank them for visiting your business. When they complete their transaction, make sure you thank them and invite them to come back. Make sure you have eye contact.
Next, make sure the experience the customer will have in your business is the best it can be. The business should be clean and clear. Your staff should be friendly and helpful. If you do not have the product or service, help your customer find it elsewhere. They will come back to you. You are not losing but gaining a customer by this experience. Your product or service should be as described. If it does not work, make every effort to replace the product or refund any monies and do so with a smile. This experience needs to be as positive as possible for the customer. This can break a customer relationship. Establish trust as a foundation of your relationship with your customer and you will find you will have an outstanding relationship with your customer.
If you are an existing business and want to make sure you retain your existing customers and attract new customers, never treat your existing customers as if they do not matter. I see incentive programs where they offer new customers great benefits for becoming a customer and they ignore the existing customers. This is a no-no! Remember the reason why you have the success you have now is because of the existing customers. And if I were a new customer, my first thought would be how long before they were going to treat me like that. If you want to incentivize new customers, great but also incentivize old customers. If you have had a customer since you started your business, offer that customer the best deal you have. That is a loyal customer. If you want to attract and incentivize a new customer offer bring a friend deal or a get know us deal. This gives you a chance to learn about the customer and the customer a chance to get to know you. Remember always collect data and then use that data.
My last tip, for both old and new business, is to consider non-traditional sources for customers. If you advertise on television on the sports channel, consider the travel channel or the Lifetime Channel. If you advertise in USA Today, consider the Financial Times because you are the customer.