Building a Loyal Customer Base

I will be writing several articles on how to build a loyal customer base. It has little to do with loyalty cards. It has little to do with QR codes. It has nothing to do with carrying the hottest and latest products in your store.

You know as well as I do that our world is continually becoming faster paced. Some simple examples are:

Can you imagine how we would be in awe of having a computer with the speed, storage capability and ease of use that we take for granted in the 1970s? If someone in 2012 would return to the 1970s with a tablet or laptop, virtually everyone would be in awe of the sheer amount of work that they could get done in such a small period of time…

But we complain when we lose an Internet connection or the connection becomes slow because of the number of people who are on the web at the coffee shop you are visiting.

We can communicate with virtually anyone in the world without telephone wires and long distance charges. In fact, we even get to see the other person we are talking with in real time (or within a few seconds of real time).

Yet we get angry and frustrated when there’s a line of people and we have to wait a few minutes to get our morning coffee or to get our table at a restaurant.

So, what do we do with this delay? Pull out our tablets and smart phones so we can keep up with the stock market, e-mail or social media posts or watch the game on our mobile device.

Do you want to know the secret to building a loyal customer base overnight? Honor your customer (because it’s a fact that no one else is doing that with their customers).

Honor. Webster defines this as “to hold in high respect” or to “show a courteous regard for.”

How do many C-Stores dishonor their customers? One way I observe this is rushing around trying to get all the other jobs done before their shift is completed. Another is not being available to help the customer when they walk into your store.

Could you imagine a C-Store owner or manager who stands by the door and shakes the hands of people coming into the store during rush hour, welcoming them to the store? Could you imagine a C-Store owner who can say something to each customer other than “Welcome to K-Wal.”

You don’t have the number of customers at most C-Stores at any one time to not be able to get to know your customers. I had an average of 1200 customers in my store every day and knew most of them, including those seeking employment, those who have lost everything (materially) and simply want a friendly face to give them a cup of coffee from time to time, those who are doing well financially as well as those going to school or those whose children are off to college next year.

Showing honor is being disciplined enough to not retaliate with harsh words and actions to those customers who are irate and angry (hopefully a temporary condition). I recall several times when an angry customer’s disposition changed (they were not angry at their experience with the store, but most of the time simply “having a bad day” by BUYING them a fountain drink (or a coffee).

Showing honor is putting down the Smart phone while a customer is inside your store. Showing honor is looking at the customer while they are talking with you rather than having your eye on the McLane order that still needs to be put away.

Now, having had my verbal rant of the day, I have one question… Do you think your customers will insist on the absolutely lowest price on your inside products if you show them honor and help them with what is in their best interest?

My thought is your most financially strapped customers won’t mind a several cent price difference over your competition if you simply take the time to revere them as dear, valued, blessed friends.

WHY would they go anywhere else?

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