By Chris Poelma of NCR
Rewards cards. Customer appreciation emails. Product giveaways. Consumers are inundated with attempts by businesses to drive loyalty. But do these efforts actually pay off?
(Photo courtesy of Chris Poelma)
Undoubtedly, developing a loyalty program is vital to keeping customers – in fact, in a Nielsen study, 84 percent of respondents indicated they were more likely to purchase from businesses with such a program. However, small businesses need to elevate their loyalty strategies to stay top of mind with today’s consumer.
Patrons expect a personalized experience from the businesses they frequent, and, for small businesses, that can seem daunting. Although in reality, delivering on that assumption can be a lot easier than small businesses think. Merchants can drive customer loyalty with the help of data.
Small Business, Small Data
Every interaction you have with a customer, from emails, to phone calls, to in-person conversations, provides you with rich information about who they are and what they want from your business. The challenge is capturing and structuring that information.
When it comes to data, think small and focus on a few key metrics so you don’t get overwhelmed. I recommend honing in on service and product satisfaction. If customers aren’t satisfied with the service they’re receiving and the product they’re buying, you won’t be making very many sales.
Conducting surveys is the simplest and most effective way to gain insight into how your customers feel about your business. A variety of inexpensive survey tools exists to help determine who your customers are, what they like, and what they dislike.
Choose The Right Channels
Spending the time reviewing survey responses and taking note of how your customers prefer to be reached, then communicating with them in those ways, will please customers and likely drive increased profitability for you.
A study from Accenture and Forrester revealed that most retailers aren’t able to provide the omnichannel experiences their customers expect from them. Taking your omnichannel strategy seriously will significantly impact your customers’ view of your business and the likelihood they’ll return, purchase after purchase.
In addition to receiving personalized communications, consumers expect to connect with your business via their preferred channel, and the channel of choice likely varies across your customer base. Determine where your customers interact with your brand to stand out and spur loyalty.
The Formula for Success
Data is useless if it isn’t used to change how you’re running your business, so leverage the technology systems you have in place to access data and make it actionable. As technology evolves, many platforms like point-of-sale (POS) solutions include easy-to-use data and analytics tools, which give you the functionality you need with no additional costs.
Use these systems to access predictive and prescriptive analytics. By using past behavioral data like customer order histories, predictive analytics provide a projection of what actions a customer will take next. This knowledge will allow you to make smarter decisions when choosing new products.
Prescriptive analytics provide recommendations on what activities you should take to personalize the customer experience. They use past behavioral and predictive data to recommend certain actions to you, and sometimes, customers. These analytics take the guess work out of using data to drive loyalty.
Ultimately, aggregating the right data, using the appropriate resources to make it actionable, and analyzing it to develop a solid omnichannel strategy will improve your handle on your business while gaining customer loyalty and setting you up for financial success. Focus on the facts of what makes customers support your business.
In April 2015, Chris Poelma joined NCR Corporation as President and General Manager of NCR Small Business. Chris oversees a very talented and ambitious team to drive business model innovation targeted at small business owners. NCR Silver, a cloud-based POS platform, is NCR Small Business’ newest solution designed to help small merchants manage and grow their businesses. Chris is accelerating the pace and execution of strategic partnerships, marketing, sales, and engineering to establish NCR Silver as the premier technology partner for small businesses.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.