All businesses – from tiny internet start-ups to huge multi-nationals – want high value customers.
Whether ‘high value’ means loyal customers, customers who are loyal to your brand, or clients happy to spend big, there’s an art to attracting – and retaining them.
Olivia Ruello, the CEO of Business Chicks puts it like this, “When it comes to attracting high-value customers, it’s about building trust and credibility, whether it’s through social media, case studies or endorsements from key influencers. You’ll know you’ve carved out a rock-solid brand when you have brand evangelists!”
And indeed, the importance of maintaining – and growing – your current customers can’t be understated. Research undertaken by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention rates by 5 per cent can boost profits by 25-95 per cent.
As Sam Walton, the founder of American retail chain Walmart, once said “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
So with that in mind, here are five ways to attract, retain and grow your high value customers.
Make it easy
Frictionless shopping is the objective of online retailers. The likes of Amazon are working to make the process as simple as possible with technologies such as the Amazon Dash button, which allows customers to re-order products with the push of a button. This concept should be pursued offline too. Frictionless shopping can be put in place by ensuring that you offer a variety of payment options – including app-based payment such as Apple Pay -, allowing the seamless application of reward redemption, ensuring stock levels are accurate to avoid disappointment and that prices are consistent on and offline, or responding to client queries in a timely and useful way.
We’ve reached reward scheme saturation point. Research out of the US suggests that households have an average of 29 loyalty memberships, and yet 58 per cent don’t utilise them. Mostly, because they’re not seen by customers to be offering value. It’s now critical to offer something personalised or customised – be it a special offer for a customer’s birthday, or looking to companies like Waitrose in the UK who last year introduced its “Pick Your Own Offers” models, which allows loyalty scheme members to choose 10 products they would like a 20 per cent discount on. Meanwhile Etsy prides itself on understanding their customer by going deep into its website analytics and offering customers a unique and personal experience. Put thought into what you offer your customers so that they feel rewarded – and appreciated – in turn. As Olivia Ruello puts its, “people don’t buy your products and services for the features alone; they buy them because of how it makes them feel, so don’t forget to understand your brand’s ‘why’.”
Focus on excellent customer service
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, attending to your customer’s needs becomes ever more important to attract – and retain – your high value customers. Especially when research from the Business Insider Intelligence’s new Customer Service Report suggests that people are 66 per cent more likely to spend money with a company that they feel offers excellent customer service. Customers expect prompt responses to queries (an email response within 24 hours is no longer acceptable according to Fast Company) and will always remember a bad experience. What’s more, often they will write about said bad experience – and your company – on review sites like Yelp. What’s said about your business matters – be it on or offline. Research from Nielsen says that 92 per cent of people will trust a word-of-mouth recommendation from friends or family over any other form of advertising. So it is essential that you understand your customer, respond to their questions and complaints, and cater to them accordingly. And also, that you make them feel good. As Olivia Ruello says, “Don’t underestimate the magic of the small stuff; at Business Chicks, we personalise place cards at our events for our loyal customers – it’s a guaranteed way to make them feel special and make us stand out from the crowd.
Executive chef & director of Cho Cho San & The Apollo
Cho Cho San
Cho Cho San is an evolving restaurant. Every day we seek inspiration, and work hard in order to get better at what we do. We love American Express and have encouraged it from the beginning. We really like the clientele American Express brings in. It brings corporate customers, tourists & locals. We get to know our customers and build a relationship with them. Our goal is for everyone to leave the restaurant happy and feel like they¹ve had a great meal.Find out more
One way you can offer excellent customer service is by scrapping surcharges on card payments. Research conducted by American Express, stresses how unpalatable customers find surcharging. Above all, they don’t want to be penalised just because they have chosen to use a certain payment method. The research shows almost all consumers would prefer not to be charged an additional surcharge on top of the retail price. Ninety-three per cent want the surcharge scrapped altogether.
More than 90 per cent say not being charged a surcharge improves the potential for repeat business. More and more businesses are choosing not to inflict surcharges on their customers and using the fact they don’t surcharge as their competitive advantage.
Offer quality, not bargains
High value customers want value and quality, but this doesn’t always mean discounting or bargains. Approach discounting with caution. Customers will ‘buy-in’ to something that seems worth the money – and something that they can trust. As Dan King, head of business development at entrpreneurial American underwear company Meundies told Entrepreneur.com, “We found that if users signed up at full price, they were more likely to remain loyal than users who would sign up with a discount. We then gave our ‘full price’ customers discount offers later to reward them for their loyalty, after we already had established a great relationship with them.”
Maintain your credibility
Upholding your customer’s trust and belief in your brand is crucial. This should be woven into everything from the way that staff interact with customers, the payment options – and security – that you offer, your marketing and advertising material and content marketing strategy. The ultimate goal is that your customer’s experience is seamless in every way, and they have faith in your company and its products, proposition and values.