Retaining Customer Loyalty in a Cutthroat Market: Securing Your Customers at a Time When It’s Every Man for Himself

The current retail market resembles a landscape from the Mad Max movies; everywhere you turn, there’s some new threat, whether it’s a market-leader tightening their grip, or some young upstart—aggressive but short-lived—trying to steal your niche.  The hasty advancement of technology combines with recession-conscious spending to cause every retailer to lose their footing.  But now more than ever, retailers must stand firm, adapt their practices, and defend what they’ve spent years building.

thunderdome

Tina Turner has always played a role in the retail industry

In recent years, the power is shifting to the hands of the consumers.  Social media has lent a megaphone to the voice of the customer.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter remind us of the old adage, “Do something right, the customer tells three friends, do something wrong, they tell ten.”  Reputations ebb and flow based on what your patrons are saying online about their shopping experience with your store.  And whether consciously or not, the general public is realizing their advantage by altering their purchasing habits.

 

Today’s shoppers are less likely to fall for gimmicks or accept bad deals.  If they have even an inkling that they’re getting cheated, they’ll flee; they know a better deal can be found by pushing a few buttons.  Any retailer that’s dead-set on sticking to their traditional strategies will find their customers slipping through their fingers.  The time has come to show humility and allow the customer to be king.

 

That means stepping up customer service.  Because shoppers have less money for discretionary spending, they are going to make the most out of what cash they have.  When they visit a store, they expect a pleasant experience—anything less will lose their business.  They are expecting the retailer to go the extra mile for the customer, and if it doesn’t, they’ll find one that will.

 

But there is another side to this coin.  If a store manages to give the customer what they want—a good deal with good service culminating in a good experience—then the customer will recognize and remember the effort.  A retailer’s hard work in providing the desired shopping atmosphere will be rewarded with their customer’s loyalty, a prize whose value grows higher as the competition intensifies.

 

And what does customer loyalty mean?  For one, it means that as a retailer, you’ve done your job.  You’re happy, your customer’s happy; they have the product they want and you’ve made some money.  But there’s more to it than that.  If you’ve set up the avenues for them, your customer may Like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or even just mention online how happy they are with you.  That’s free advertising, any way you cut it.

 

But the real trophy of customer loyalty is repeat patronage.  Not every shopper wants to be continually searching and comparing pricing.  If you’ve proven to them that you can satisfy their shopping needs, the next time they need to buy something, they’ll think of you.  Customer loyalty is the gift that keeps on giving, even (or especially) in a dark economic times.  Isn’t that worth fighting for?

 

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