It’s time to upgrade your customer loyalty

Customer Loyalty-web

October 2018—

Start with looking at your storefrom your consumers’ perspective.

There’s no question your furniture store has to fight harder to maintain customer loyalty.

At the NextCon17 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona last year, customer loyalty—and how to secure it through customer experience—was center stage. But when it comes to customer loyalty specifically, business advisor, media personality and entrepreneur Carol Roth said “customer loyalty 1.0 is old news.”

Roth maintains that “customer loyalty is key to attracting and retaining customers and should be at the core of any marketing or selling activity.” And that applies more broadly to customer experience too. As a furniture retailer you know this is nothing new.

What is different is that consumers today are overwhelmed by the number of messages they receive from everyone, which has made them tune out and ignore messages from companies they do business with.

To improve overall customer experience, it’s crucial to understand the difference between Customer Loyalty 1.0 and Customer Loyalty 3.0.
What does Customer Loyalty 1.0 look like? Roth says all retailers have practiced it at one time or another.

Customer Loyalty 1.0:

Looks like bribery. The traditional buy nine, get one free, is essentially giving your customers a 10 percent discount that you must work very hard to get, Roth said.

Competes on price. Small, independent furniture stores should never compete on price. You can only compete on value and service, Roth added.

Makes customers loyal to the program and not the brand. The idea is to create loyalty to your store and services, said Roth. That’s the key to creating a genuinely better customer experience.

So, what does the new and improved Customer Loyalty 3.0 look like? It starts with seeing things from your customers’ perspective.

Customer Loyalty 3.0:

Pays attention to the customer. You must know what your customers are thinking.

Creates authentic relationships. It’s about making customers loyal to the experience they have with your business, each time they interact with you.

Understands the difference between spenders and senders. Just because a customer spends $3,900 on a living room set doesn’t necessarily make them your best customer. A customer who spends $1,200 on a recliner, but shares their positive experiences with others (senders), can drive more revenue.

Once you understand how Customer Loyalty 3.0 works, how do you put it into action? Roth believes you need to follow the five pillars of customer loyalty.

Products and Services

Are your offerings best of breed in the furniture industry and in alignment with what your customers can afford? The key is selling specific furniture and services that meet your customers’ needs. Do you have IP (intellectual property) that no one else does? Is there a certain cachet attached to your store? How does your store specifically meet customers’ needs? Design? Delivery? Financing? What can your customers find at your store that they can’t get elsewhere?

Customer Service

Once again, Roth is asking you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Roth says your customers are saying, “I can get this anywhere, why should I shop with you?” One way to separate yourself from the pack is to offer the best customer service. In her presentation, Roth cited Nordstrom as the prime example of this. People shop there, not necessarily for the products the company sells, (which can be found in many places), but for the above-and-beyond service the retailer provides.

How can you follow Nordstrom’s strategy for building this awesome customer experience? It might be easier than you think. Roth suggested business owners and managers think about what more they can offer their customers. For example, offer add-on services, extend your hours, or go mobile—bring your products or services to them through technology. Or it could be as simple offering donuts and coffee to weekend shoppers.

Community and Affinity Groups

People want to feel like they’re part of something, whether that makes them feel cooler, smarter, or more important. They want to connect with something bigger or get access to something they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Does buying a sofa from your store say something about them? If not, think of Harley Davidson motorcycles, Roth says. There’s a cachet about a Harley owner. They automatically become part of a culture.

This kind of enhanced customer experience is not as hard to implement as you may think. How can you add value to your customers’ lives? Can you form a mastermind group where they can share experiences and learn from one another?

Experiences

How can you transform the mundane into something extraordinary? The answer may be as simple as making business with you, fun. Or create a VIP category for your best customers. Look at your business from a different perspective and seek ways to create a better customer experience.

Bridges

Consider what else you can offer to your customers. You may not be best of breed, but can you address their pain points? You need to know what challenges your customers are facing. Are they time-strapped? Is money tight?

If you show them you understand their needs, it makes your business important to them. Here are some ideas:

  • Help your customers get more customers. Simply introducing your customers to one another or making referrals to them can increase their perception of you. This may seem odd at first. A furniture store retailer bringing their customers together with one another to benefit them both? But think of the impact and how they see you and your store when you do this!
  • Help them save money. Create special deals for VIP customers.
  • Help them save time. Offer access to your store before normal hours once a quarter or so. Or create how-to content, explaining how to best use your products.
  • Make it easy for them. Be their one-stop shop.
  • Build your relationship. Never take your customers for granted. Keep showing them how much they mean to your business.

Tying it all together, Roth advises a simple “engagement formula”:

Decipher what customers want. Apply the pillars of loyalty. Then build relationships. All these things together, Roth says, make it easier for customers to buy furniture from you. And it should improve your store’s customer experience in the process.

About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Weekly, a consulting company specializing in small businesses and entrepreneurship. Sign up for free small business stories and tips at smallbiztrends.com.