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Top retail strategies for building lasting customer relationships

By Daniel Groves | Wednesday June 26 2024 | UPDATED 01.07.24

The world of retail is a highly competitive and ever-evolving machine that shifts with current trends and moulds itself to the times. But startup growth specialist, Daniel Groves, argues that the only thing remaining constant are customers

Building and maintaining relationships with your customers in a retail setting is the goal that every retailer is striving to reach, it can make or break a business and many get it wrong; in fact, only half of consumers feel like the companies they patronise offer good customer experiences, meaning there is a lot to be gained by those doing things properly.

Businesses that prioritise their long-term customer relations can expect to see increases in sales, higher levels of loyalty and better word-of-mouth referrals; so what exactly is the best way to capitalise on this opportunity, and how do you go about building relationships with customers?

Well, here are some top tips on making your customers happy, capturing their loyalty, and ensuring that they keep coming back for more.

Understanding your customers

Understanding your customers is the very first step you should take when figuring out how to capture their loyalty; you’ll be better placed to serve their needs, keep them happy and give them what they need to have a great customer experience in your store.

Conduct market research - Understanding your customers begins with comprehensive market research and despite what you may think, this does not require the latest in-store technology. Make the most of customer surveys, run focus groups and try to target the preferences and needs that you discover whilst doing so.

By regularly collecting feedback and data from the patrons in your store you’ll be able to have first-hand knowledge of what it is they’re looking for, and the kind of expectations they hold.

You’ll be able to tailor your store’s offerings to the needs of the customers and improve their overall experience simply by ensuring you know what types of shoppers are using your store.

Customer reviews - Reviews are another element of creating a loyal customer base that many businesses fail to utilise fully; businesses struggle with getting more reviews and boosting their online rating, so having systems in place to increase the volume of reviews can be a superb way to gain as much information as possible from your shoppers.

These systems can include:

  • Post-purchase surveys: Giving customers the opportunity to raise pain points in their experience, talk about any issues they experienced when shopping, or their opinions on what could be improved, is one of the most direct and fastest ways you can collect data.
  • Feedback forms: Giving out feedback forms for customers to fill out can be a great way to get more detail about specific issues that have been raised, and can be done digitally, via email, or on a physical form. You can ensure engagement by offering prizes or deals to those filling out forms properly.
  • Direct communication through social media: The use of social media can’t be understated in this day and age, with many people voicing concerts, or offering praise, on their social media accounts. These essentially have unlimited reach given the right circumstances, so communicating directly can highlight great customer service, for all to see.

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to give you feedback, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of useful information you get back from them.

Show them you’re listening

Gathering feedback is one thing. But, acting on it is another altogether.

Make sure to use the valuable information you are given to its fullest extent; if customers are unhappy with queue times then streamlining your till systems is super important, perhaps your signage is incorrect or confusing, or maybe cleaning processes are not being followed properly; whatever the information, act on it and let customers know you are acting on it.

Their opinions will be validated, they will feel heard, and you can show your customers not only that their views matter, but that they can directly influence the store in which they choose to shop.

Offer exceptional customer service

Customer service is never an easy thing to perfect, but it is one of the most important things in any retail store; the only direct contact your operation will have with its customers is in their interactions with your staff, so ensuring the professionalism of your staff is up to a high standard gives you the best possible chance for great interaction.

Train your staff - Customer to staff interaction is the frontline of any retail business, so investing in your staff’s training is crucial. Give them the tools, knowledge and know-how to do their jobs to the standard you expect, treat them well and watch them deliver exceptional service.

Teach them to deal with difficult situations and how to resolve conflict properly, cover all the bases and help them build up to becoming retail professionals.
Loyalty will develop in your staff, who will transfer their enthusiasm to customers.

Implement a customer service culture - Once you have developed professionalism in your staff by ensuring they have the tools they need to complete their jobs effectively, you can start to develop a culture of customer service; this is a systemic cultivation of encouraging all employees of all levels to prioritise customer satisfaction over everything else.

Going the extra mile, delivering professional and efficient service and maintaining customer welfare at all times may sound like an impossibility, but by encouraging and helping your staff and developing processes over time, it should be attainable.

It’s also worth recognising and rewarding those staff members who embrace the new culture of excellent customer care; rewarding the correct people can inspire others, and you’ll find yourself with a team of driven and professional staff.

Leverage technology - Technology can be the answer to more questions than you may imagine, and with the incredible integration that modern systems offer, now could be the time to update your outdated and clunky systems.

Use customer relationship management (CRM) systems - The use of CRM systems has totally changed the game in the retail industry; these systems help you to not only run your entire business, but they will help to manage the relationship you have with your customers.

These systems can automate marketing strategies, store and organise customer information and provide incredible analytics and data that allow you to strengthen the relationships you have been building with your customers.

Personalise customer interactions - Fully utilising your CRM can allow you to personalise interactions with customers with the use of personalised emails, product recommendations, and special offers tailored to individual needs; things that would have previously been nearly impossible.

Show your customers that they are valued as individuals, make your systems as efficient as possible and keep in touch with your client base; these technological tools really put the power in your hands.

There is a reason some of the world’s best-known retailers are putting their faith in powerful CRMs, and with all the freshly implemented strategies above, adding an effective CRM is the cherry on top of your new found long lasting customer relations.

Building a long-term customer base

So there you have it, some of the very best strategies that can be implemented pretty much straight away that will help you learn how to build relationships with customers, cultivate long-term customer experience satisfaction, and keep them wanting to come back time and time again.

These tips don’t come with too much expense, will allow you to improve your staff relationships, and keep your customers happier than ever before; so what are you waiting for?

Get started today, and revolutionise your in-store customer experience.

Daniel Groves is a Startup Growth Specialist.