Monthly Archives: August 2012

What’s Usain Bolt’s relay baton got to do with customer loyalty?

Jamaican hero Usain Bolt was eventually given back the baton that he and his team-mates ran with to win the Olympic 4x100m men’s relay on Saturday night. It was quite understandable that he’d want to keep a trophy as a reminder of the record breaking race.

Do any of your customers feel the same about their experiences with you? Are they freely given or unintentionally denied the opportunity to take away anything as a memento of their visit?

What will your customers remember most about their visit to you? What is there that makes your establishment or offer unique, that they might want to take home or share with others, and help build customer loyalty?

Could you offer any of the following either as a gift or as additional sales? Convert your renowned menu or signature dishes into a recipe book, package your hand-made petit fours into a gift box; offer birthday or celebration cakes for customers celebrating special occasions; offer a hand-tied flower bouquet for anniversaries or special occasions; homemade bread, marmalade or other preserves and chutneys; sell luxurious bathroom accessories, robes with your logo, and toiletries. A win-win, the guest has something special to take home and you get an opportunity to ensure they remember you long after they’ve left, and prompt potential repeat business.

Getting personal

Identify the little finishing touches that you can give customers at the end of their visit that will leave them with that wow factor. This might be picking up on an earlier conversation you’ve had with the customer that enables you to give them a personalised memento of their stay.

For example, they raved about a particular dessert so your chef has written out the recipe for them and where they can find the unusual ingredients (or even given them a sample to take home if that’s practical). They’ve been away on business and missed their wife’s birthday, so you assemble and gift wrap a selection of your luxurious toiletries for them to take home. They lost something on a day trip and you manage to source a replacement for them before they leave. They’ve been coveting a plant in your garden so you pot up a cutting for them and wrap it up for a safe journey home. The kids took a shine to a particular toy, game or book, so you pop it into bag for them to take home (or a least source where they can buy it from when they get home).

Be flexible

If they’d like to take their desert home in a goody bag because they are too full to enjoy it, then let them. They ask you about your luxurious robes; why not let them buy one at cost, and gift wrap into the bargain? They didn’t manage to finish that book they borrowed from your ‘library’.

Lasting memories

Give them something as a memento that’s good enough quality that they’ll want to keep it as well as relevant to your offer. It might not be something they’ve experienced this time around, but whet’s their appetite for their next visit.  Cheap and cheerful might hack it the budget market, but is this really how you want to be remembered?

Pass it on

Are your guests away from loved ones, and want to take a gift back home? What do you do, have or use that is unique or unusual and reflects your brand or identity? Homemade preserves, gifts made by a local artist or craftsman that reflect your location, branded toiletries…

Mementos and small gifts provide the perfect way to get your name out there to others. It’s far more subtle than asking someone for a referral, but in effect this is what a well targeted gift can do. This might be in the form of a tangible item, or could be a voucher or exclusive offer.

Even having information about what you do and what you offer to pass on to friends, family and colleagues with some sought after snippets of information or tips is better than nothing to pass on to others.

Show your appreciation

Mementos might provide a great opportunity for increasing sales, but don’t be so hell bent on this that you’re never prepared to give anything away. A small items as a gift is the perfect way to say thank you for their custom, and provides that element of surprise, and builds loyalty. Obviously this needs to be in line with your margins, but even something as small as a print out of the ingredients of their favourite cocktail or the recipe of a dish they asked about, printing out directions for their onward journey, or a kids’ car goodie bag or entertainment pack for the journey home.

And if nothing else, a simple – hand written if it’s practical – thank you note after their visit will keep you in mind for their next visit or when recommending to friends and family.  Remember to leave the door open for repeat business.


Engage with your customers and make them feel valued

Look at me!

I don’t mean this in a ‘look at me, aren’t I wonderful’ way. What I mean is, ‘Oy, look at me when I’m talking to you!

Yesterday I overheard a market stall holder moaning about the lack of business. I was buying from him and therefore providing him with some of that precious business he was so anxious to secure.

But rather than look at me, engage and give me his full attention, he carried on his negative conversation with his mate next door. Even when I asked him to find something for me he continued with his moan. Needless to say I cut my buying short.  Did he want my business or not? Not only did he fail to make me feel valued as a customer, he lost out on additional sales there and then by not listening to what I was asking for.

Hardly surprising he didn’t have much business. I certainly shan’t be taking mine there again….

Sadly we see this all the time, customer service staff continuing their personal conversations in front of the customer, and worse still when actually ‘serving’ the customer. I put the word ‘serving’ in inverted commas as to me this is not serving at all.

OK, rant over, but does this ever happen in your business?

Do you love your customers?

I’ve recently starting working with a new client. This was a referral, and led me into a sector of the industry I’ve not worked in before. But, you know what, I’ve loved working with them. Do you know why? Because everyone I’ve dealt with has the same values and we’ve hit it off from day one.

The result?

I’ve been at my best which means a happy client, and happy me.

Could the same always be said for your relationship with your customers?

If you are attracting the type of customers who either don’t appreciate what you do (the discount and voucher hunters come to mind for many of us) or with whom you’ve absolutely nothing in common you’re unlikely to enjoy working with them and this is likely to show. Not a good recipe for long term loyalty.

You need to be able, to have that connection and build rapport to engage with your customers. This means you’re in a better position to know what they want and meet their expectations. Plus if you want to keep your sanity I’d say it’s a pre requisite….

Start by thinking about what is important to you. What are the values by which you want to run your business? If sustainability is important you’ll want to attract customers who also value this. If you love the outdoors you probably want to attract people who share this enthusiasm. If you’re passionate about your pooch you might welcome dog lovers. If service excellence is your most important value you’ll want to attract people who value service.

Whatever it is, whether it’s a sport, hobby, principle, or interest the clearer you are on what’s important to you the easier it is for you to establish your ideal customer. Who are the people you’d like to attract more of as customers.

Having in mind your ideal customer means that you can tailor everything you do with them in mind, increasing your chances of attracting them (and not those who fail to appreciate what you, spend less and complain in the process!)

Too many places try to appeal to everyone and end up satisfying no one. You can always tell a venue that has no specific target market in mind, as they are not focused and consistent with what they do and tend to offer far too much choice and things that don’t necessarily complement one another. Not only does it make life more difficult for you having to appeal to so many different needs, it makes it very difficult when it comes to marketing your business and attracting new customers.

This doesn’t mean to say that you won’t have more than one category of customer; for example, you may focus on corporate business during the week but still be a perfect destination for a romantic weekend break. Or you may be attract pre school families during the day but active adults and teenagers in the evenings. Having two or three target groups can be a healthy thing to help level out the peaks and troughs, and minimises the risk if any one target group of customers comes under threat.

But keep in mind the compatibility of your two or three main target markets – to each other and to YOU.