Delight Customers With The Unexpected

Normally, I avoid rehashing news, but this story is too important to pass up. Recently, the Retail Wire posted an interesting synopsis of a study published in the Journal of Marketing.

The research found that building true loyalty involves not just continually pleasing customers but making them feel "grateful." In a relationship where much is already expected by the seller, creating grateful experiences is a challenge and often takes "random acts" of special rewards or exceptional service to get there.

Yellow Smilely Face
Savvy, independent retailers can benefit most from this information. That’s because small businesses are uniquely positioned to create genuinely memorable experiences. Your big box competitors will try implementing formal programs, but these will lack the spontaneity found at smaller shops. In the meantime, you can act nimbly, and leave the giants coughing on your dust.

The key to creating this loyalty is hiring the best employees, and empowering them to make decisions that delight customers. After hiring, your next step should be actively encouraging employees to reward, and excel at helping customers.

When I worked for Snow Country Sports, the owner made it clear that employees could spend an allotted amount each month on customers. There were no rules for when you could surprise a person with a reward. If a person walked into the shop looking to buy a helmet, but left with a new pair of ski’s and boots, I’d throw in an $18 pair of winter socks as a thank you.

After the shop switched owners, they went about formalizing the program. Instead of being rewarded by a random accessory, people received a gift bag filled with high-end chocolates, along with a gift certificate to a local spa. Plus, they had to qualify with a minimum of a $1000 purchase. In my opinion, that took a little of the fun and mystique out of it for both the customers, and employees. Nevertheless, the program is still successful.

Are Your Customers Delighted?

You can please customers, but your grateful, and true fans will spread the word about your business. What are you doing at your shop to delight people? What do you think works best in creating loyal retail customers, a process for rewarding people, or random acts of kindness?

Photo credit Lempsipmatt