We all like to think that if we provide good customer service will lead to consumer loyalty. Reading a recent article in the Sunday Business Post by Leanne Papaioannou presented some interesting ideas.
We had been toying with the idea of introducing a ‘loyalty-type’ card for customers particularly for when we expand into a franchise but on asking customers, we received a mixed response. Some felt they had enough loyalty cards from various supermarkets and coffee shops in their purse as it was which meant too that these individuals, by having so many, weren’t necessarily loyal to one particular shop. A few even responded that they come to us because they enjoy the shopping experience (which was exactly what we wanted to hear) and a loyalty card wouldn’t necessarily encourage them to spend more. As Papaioannou states ‘Loyalty is not just about handing out points, rewards or coupons’.
Papaioannou sings from the same sheet as we do (and what our mentor, The Beacon Coach reminds us too) – we also believe that it takes time to build trust and loyalty, that businesses need to put the customer first and that businesses need to consistently interact and engage with existing and potential customers.
As we advocated recently too, managers need to step to the other side of the till sometimes, to see how their customers are being treated. They also need to step aside from the office too and stand behind the counter. Papaioannou also suggests that they spend time regularly in the customer service department and listen to the variety of customer calls. Listen to what your customers want, then do everything you can to deliver it.
As you know, I’ve been somewhat concerned about Matthew’s girlfriend, Cissy, working in the shop as her customer service can be a tad lacking. She spent last week in the office answering a variety of calls and I’d asked her to sum up any feedback she received – from complaints to praise and everything in between. She discovered that people loved being able to purchase cheese and relish hampers at those times of the year when they are visiting as it is such a user-friendly and practical gift to bring to the hostess – many asked that we hold a variety in stock all year around if we can. We knew they had sold well at Christmas and Easter but it is good to know that people will now be actively looking for them as an all-year gift idea.
As our planning for setting up a franchise grows, we need to consider how we will ensure that all the branches of The Cheese Mall uphold the same high customer service levels that we do and that’s what our next meeting with our mentor, The Beacon Coach, will concentrate on.
If it is one thing we can’t get complacent about, it is continued customer loyalty. Therefore, businesses need to be continually concentrating on how they can improve their customer service – and finding out by asking their customers.
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