My wife and I have become loyal to a small business owner who has never offered us a discount, sold us a product that we couldn't get elsewhere, or opened a location closer to our house.
The fact that his name, too, is Jeff has nothing to do with our interest in continuing to buy high-end dog food from him. What makes the loyalty more noteworthy is that we actually bought product from Jeff that made our pets sick.
What’s this business owner’s lure? Maybe you think he called one or more of our dogs cute. Nope, he has never met them.
Jeff treats his customers like they are his customers. He has worked in his Kirkland, WA, store every day for three straight years without complaint, with a smile, and a willingness to carry purchased product from his store to the car parked outside.
It has been that interest in earning our business and trust that got us past the fact that product he sold us was contaminated at the factory. That was neither his fault nor within his control.
Were he disinterested or on his boat while our dogs were pooping at an alarming rate, we would have had reason to shop elsewhere – perhaps to one of the likely more than two dozen stores that are closer to where we live.
But beyond taking back the recalled food – who wouldn’t? – he made it a point of learning even more about our pets so he could recommend a replacement food that would provide the health benefits that we were seeking. He checked up on the health of our dogs in the subsequent days, and has been there at every hour we come by to provide counsel and his interest in being a solution for us.
As a marketer, I think often about loyalty. As I’ve written before, in my view, more businesses, including small and medium-sized ones, should build opt-in databases to reach out to consumers via mobile devices in personalized ways that build loyalty.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has published seven tips for starting a successful customer loyalty program.
They include the following:
A loyalty punch card that offers a free gift
after a certain number of purchases have been made
- An opt-in club using email addresses obtained at the point of sale
- A premium loyalty program to reward the highest spenders
- Branded loyalty membership cards available through a number of commercially available loyalty card services that let you design branded cards, track and manage customer behavior such as number of customer visits to your store, average spend and more
- A digital component, either with the aforementioned mobile or via social media integration – or both
- Value adds like a workshop
- Regular communication with members, offering them upcoming loyalty incentives, news on events, and birthday greetings
I have no argument with any of these tips. Employing some or all give small and medium-sized businesses ways to compete and win.
I certainly don’t advocate following Jeff’s route of working every day for three years. That’s not healthy and the good news is that Jeff is on the lookout for a fill-in for a couple of Sundays a month.
But business owners need to give customers reasons to come back. What’s your reason?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program http://Goo.gl/t3fgW, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.