Showing posts with label customer service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label customer service. Show all posts

Monday, July 29, 2013

Introducing New Customer Loyalty Program!

Earlier this month we announced our new Customer Loyalty Program! 

Now, for every dollar you spend, you will receive points which will be applied to a future gift certificate. When you point balance reaches 100, you will receive a $10 gift certificate to apply toward a future purchase.

But don't worry! Your Loyalty Points will be tracked automatically, and you will be notified of your balance with every purchase. Points are redeemable on any product, are not restricted, and are available for use on clearance and sale items.

Yesterday, newsletter subscribers were notified of their point balance available. 

If you're purchased our products and did not receive an email, please email us today so we can update you on the number of points you have available! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Customer Loyalty Programs

As a small business owner, I'm always looking for additional opportunities to market my business, aren't you? And the easier and less expensive the better. But finding those opportunities is a challenge.

We all know it costs more to gain a customer than it does to retain a customer.  But if you sell a product that people don't really need, how do you get that customer to keep coming back to you?

Not long ago, I decided to implement a customer loyalty program. It took a few weeks before I settled on the right product. According to Hubspot, the most common loyalty programs are:

1.) Points systems. We're all familiar with these - we walk into our favorite coffee shop and are offered a frequent purchase card which is stamped or punched with every purchase. Or the purchased dollars equate into points to be converted to a free item. This can be difficult for business like most of your who read my blog - selling with stores utilizing online marketplaces.

2.) Tiered reward systems. This program expands the point system by offering one level of reward for, say, 50 points, another level of reward for 100 points, etc.  Still difficult to coordinate for the small business with limited time and resources.

3.) Upfront fee for VIP benefits. I recently purchased some kind of card from Staples for some kind of reward. Does my ambivalence show through here? Again, not a program for me.

4.) Non-monetary rewards for customer values. You've heard the sale - for every $x in sales, y number of trees are planted. Honorable, but not for me.

5.) Partnerships. Specifically, this article referenced Twitter campaigns, but my favorite comparison is a local company which offers, this week, free tickets to the Disney Ice Capades for an estimate. Hmm.

6.) Games. McDonald's Monopoly anyone?

7.) None. Offer a quality product and customer service with the sale, and loyalty will follow.

I'm sure most of you, my loyal readers, feel you choose strategy #7. And I hope each of you does offer a quality product and exceptional customer service. But I wanted to do something more.

So last fall I began a Refer A Friend program. The steps for me are easy enough to implement:

1.) Identify customers who have made their second, or more, purchase. For you Etsy sellers out there, these customers are easy enough to identify - a little star is placed by his name in your sold orders log. For my non-Etsy customers, I can easily identify them with the auto-type feature in my database.

2.) Create referral cards. Use the products you have on hand. I happened to have on hand folded business cards, but I could easily use regular business cards as well.  For gifts, I have a card I enclosed into a coin envelope easily found at your local office supply store which I've stamped "Thank You." Using these business cards and thank you envelopes, no additional supplies were necessary.

3.) Create a unique coupon code. I have a simple formula of customer initials and year.  So "DN2013" is my personal coupon code. This allows me to track when the code has been used. I offer a 15% discount to a new customer who has been referred, as well as a 15% discount to my referring customer.

4.) Include the card with my customer's order!

This program has worked well for me. I have a way to thank every customer for his/her return purchase with a method which encourages him/her to spread the word about my product and to reward him when he does!

After working with the program for nearly nine months, I have the following recommendations for anyone interested in implementing such a program:

  • Use what supplies you have on hand. I know many of you order your business cards through online printers, so perhaps this option isn't for you. But most of you have a printer and scissors and can easily print something using a postcard template on colored paper. Even cheaper - write a personal note on the invoice/packing slip!
  • Offer a discount substantial enough to make it worthwhile to your customer and his friend. I could probably even go up to 20% and my logic is this - it costs more to gain a new customer. Why not pass those savings on to your customers? You'll possibly gain a sale you would not have received otherwise, and your customers will appreciate your gesture! 
  • Measure your results. Let me repeat - measure your results. Give yourself plenty of time - one quarter is not long enough. Maybe the coupon code, which is your most tangible means of measurement, isn't used as frequently as you'd like. But do your customers come back? Honestly, I've only had a handle of customers make referrals that I can track from the coupon. But I've seen these customers return, and I truly believe it's the "something that makes them feel special" which helps them remember me when they want to purchase a similar product.
I know there are sometimes fears about offering coupons or sales. My wisdom is - don't be afraid! I know the mental calculations of "loss" of revenue or cash flow, but those losses are nothing compared to the loss of a sale, or the loss of returned sale!

Do any of you offer loyalty programs? What works for you? What would you like to do but just haven't been convinced to take the plunge?

I love to hear from you!

Happy sales,


Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Your Purple Goldfish?

This week I had the opportunity to travel to a conference and listen to featured speaker Stan Phelps.  Mr. Phelps recently published a book, What's Your Purple Goldfish? I'm not going to give away the secret of what a purple goldfish is, but I will share with you the gist of his message.

The subtitle of the book is How to Win Customers & Influence Word of Mouth.  Mr. Phelps began on a journey to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe.  What's lagniappe? Pronounced lan-yap, it's a Creole term for "a little something extra." This book is the result of his findings of examples of companies who deliver excellent customer services by giving "a little something extra" to their customers.

I haven't completed the book yet, so I'm relying upon my memory of his presentation to give you my favorite examples of marketing lagniappe:

  1. Bigelow Tea - A recent customer ordered a box of Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea, and the first item that fell out was a packet of Constant Comment.  The customer feared he had received the wrong order.  Instead, it turned out to be a complimentary sample, and the customer was delighted to have a fun new item to try.
  2. Plaza Cleaners - This Portland, Oregon company posts a sign on their door, "If you are unemployed an need an outfit clean for an interview, we will clean it for free."  They're paying it forward; maybe, just maybe, the local economy will improve a bit if that person gets the job.
  3. Nurse Next Door - We all make mistakes, as much as we strive for business and personal perfection.  If this home health service provider makes a mistake, they deliver a fresh baked apple "humble pie" as an apology for the poor customer service. 
  4. Southwest Airlines - Ok, we've all seen this one, but who doesn't love the "bags fly free" marketing message? 
  5. Nordstrom - This company is famous for its excellent customer service, but I found this story exceptionally interesting.  One customer's feet were two different sizes: a 9 and a 9.5.  The salesman at the store split two pairs of shoes for one order. 
Now, the book is more than short stories about the little somethings extra companies do. It really is a study into marketing behavior and how develop the customer experience.  There are some fantastic, basic rules that will make sense more than your college textbook.

Do you offer a little something extra to your customers? It's not always easy, especially if you're a small business, like me.  I have two.  The first is the Bigelow Tea example. This lagniappe was born out of economy, not marketing strategy.  I send a "Krazee Kandel" with every order.  Some are tea lights, some are votives, all made from leftover amounts of wax I cannot use in the future. It's supply I have, can't do anything with, yet is a relevant gift as a means to say "thank you."  Always packaged neatly with my signature froggie thank you tags.

My second was recently introduced.  Knowing happy customers are the best word of mouth, I decided to start a referral program.  To my repeat customers, I include a referral card for them to give a friend or colleague to recommend my product.  If that friend makes a purchase, she/he receive 15% off their entire order, and my customer receives the same discount from her next order.  The discounts are truly minimal given the increased sales brought my way.

So today I ask you, what is your marketing lagniappe?  Post it here.  Maybe a reader will be inspired to follow your example, maybe a new to you customer will see if and bring you new business!

P.S. All those who post their examples, will be entered into a drawing.  If I draw your name, I'll feature your shop in an upcoming post!
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