In 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge coined a phrase that has been variously debated, rejected, and begrudgingly accepted by business people ever since. He famously said, “The customer is always right”. Depending on how your sales are going compared to the compromises you’ve had to make along the way, you may tend to agree or disagree.
Building a customer base takes the kind of time and effort that catches many entrepreneurs off-guard. For those who understand that you cannot simply ‘build it and they will come’, there are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring a return customer base that feels valued.
The first item ever sold online was a CD priced at $12.48. That was back in 1994. The USA alone now makes over $200bn per year in online sales. The message is clear. If your business can’t accept online payments, you’re missing out on a big slice of the pie.
Make sure you give serious thought to how you intend to take payment. For some people, the idea of digital money is so intrinsic to the modern marketplace that it hardly needs to be mentioned. However, many business minds focus on the setup and the product and forget to nail-down a fast, secure, and effective method of payment.
Typically, business owners who intend to trade face to face with their customers anticipate cash transactions being the preferred method of payment. But ask yourself, when was the last time you went to an ATM and withdrew cash? Physical cash is more of a rare commodity than you might imagine, even for transactions that take place face to face.
Develop a personal experience
Whether you run your business online, have a physical walk-in store, or a mix of both, return customers want to know they are valued.
How can you create a personalized experience online? Start with a customer sign-up option and a ‘website members only’ area. A welcome back message and a points scheme are also ways to ensure your customers feel that they are dealing with a company that values their custom.
If your company is more likely to engage with the customer base in person, consider introducing a loyalty card that can be stamped upon each visit. Whatever you choose, from a mailing list to discount vouchers, your customers will have every reason to keep you in mind when considering their next purchase.
Consistency is key
You know that feeling when you walk into a supermarket and the powers that be have decided to move everything? Now, the milk is in the soup aisle and you have to switch tomorrow’s breakfast to cereal because after 12 minutes of looking for the eggs you give up.
Consistency keeps people happy. Same services. Same prices. Same value for money. You can add products and services to your range, of course, and that’s to be expected with any long-term business model. But the age-old adage of working in the entertainment industry holds true in the business world: “don’t quit the hit”.