LisBiz Strategies: Developing a rapport with the customer

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August 22/29, 2016; Volume 31, Number 5

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Value isn’t what our store looks like or our product, it’s how we make the customer feel. Sure, they get lots of attention during the purchasing process, but what about after they’ve been sold? How valued can they feel if the last time they heard from the store was to collect the balance of a bill?

Business owners often profess to love their customers. However, once the customer buys the relationship ends. We talk about the “value of staying in touch with our customers,” but most don’t have a program in place to make it happen. Some insist their salespeople send out thank-you notes, which is what you should do, obviously. However, the customer never hears from them again. What is the reasoning behind this?

The way to grow your business is to keep in touch with customers you’ve sold as well as those you haven’t sold. Both types are important, particularly the ones who have not made a purchase. Statistics show that only 37% of customers are sold. The rest run out to your competitors. There’s no shortage of brick and mortar stores or online flooring vendors. Why wouldn’t you try every trick in the book to keep and sell them?

If you’re going to survive and grow your business, you have to have a marketing plan to keep in touch with everyone who comes into your store. That means everyone. Keep in mind that the customer who doesn’t buy still made an effort to come into your store. So why not put some effort into building a relationship with her? Whether you stay in touch weekly or monthly, it will cause a change as long as it’s consistent and targeted. In other words, customers get customized messages.

Customers are hard to come by, and if you’ve got the possibility of keeping one and turning them into an advocate, why not put some effort into making it happen? Anyone who comes into your store needs to be worked and reworked. If you do this repeatedly, it will pay off. Customers will either buy from you or just go away. At least if you stay in touch and follow them, you have an opportunity to sell them down the road. If you let them go, you don’t have a chance of building anything.

Your database is worth a lot of money. If you don’t think it’s important, call your competitors and tell them they can have it for nothing. Any smart retailer will jump at the opportunity to stay in front of a possible customer.

As you develop your customer outreach strategies, be sure to place a strong emphasis on social media. After all, as a society, we are increasingly spending more time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. It’s also a good idea to develop an online marketing program that entails communicating with your customers on a regular basis. According to Socialmouths, 78% of email messages reach the inbox. You might compare this to your Facebook fans; how many see your posts? Note: videos have also been proven to increase sales.

Greg Incardona, vice president of Follow Your Customer, shared these tidbits: “Email marketing campaigns are still the most cost effective ways to get and keep customers. Adding video links to emails can boost the open rates by 20% and increase the click-through two to three times. Once they open your email you have to give them direction on where you want them to go and what you want them to do.”

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