Having worked in the service industry for a long time now, the best way I have found to create a loyal customer is through great customer service. To provide a customer with great customer service requires two things: 1) knowing who your customer is, and 2) what they want. A great business owns knows he has to tailor each experience at his business for each of his customer.
One of the best examples I have seen of a business taking the extra steps to help personalize a customers experience is Nordstrom’s. Although it is easy to discount the fact that they are a large department store with far more resources than your local boutique that doesn’t mean that they would offer excellent customer service. On the contrary, my stereotypical perception of department stores is that they treat their customers as disposable because department stores are about volume.
Having worked for Nordstrom for a number of years, one of the most innovative things I saw while I was there was Nordstrom’s personal book. Every sales associate has personal book, which is a personal database of a sales associates own personal customers, which they accumulate over the time. Personal book is an in store customizable rolodex which helps Nordstrom’s staff serve Nordstrom’s customers better. Personal book helped their staff to keep in contact with their customers, to follow up on an items customers were interested in, let a customer know they are having a sale, or the address on where send a thank you note to a customer who shopped with them.
As great as Nordstrom system is I understand that their system is out of budget for a majority of business, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t create your own version of personal book. Facebook and twitter have helped mom and pop business narrow the big budget-marketing gap. Now small businesses have new communication channels to reach their customers quickly and personally. Retweet customers that have said tweeted great things about your business, everyone loves their kindness and help to be acknowledged. Send thank you notes to your loyal customers, letting them know you appreciate their business, or if you don’t have their address but you have their email or they are your friend on Facebook send them an electronic thank you.
Lastly, customer appreciation events like the one mentioned last week, celebrate your loyal customers, let them know just how much you appreciate their business. In the hustle and bustle of today, often time we forget how important the little things are, if you can provide these little-personalized customer service duties well, your business will stand out in your customers mind.