I’ve worked in various retail companies in my time – from massive chains like Tesco to large independent department stores. By the time I’d graduated college, I had amassed quite a collection of name tags.
A few years ago, I was a part-time stock room assistant for Habitat in Dublin. Habitat had a ‘mailing list’ of it’s most loyal customers. The communication method of today’s mailing list is mostly emails, but this was 9 years ago and the communication was sent through the post.
It wasn’t necessarily a Customer Relationship Management tool, it was a way of informing their loyal customers about different promotions.
Their Winter Sale was just before Christmas. The night before the sale was due to open to everyone, Habitat had sent out invitations to a special ‘Winter Sale Preview Evening’ to allow their most loyal customers to avail of reductions a day before everyone else could. The staff handed out complimentary glasses of mulled wine, shortbread and mince pies. The atmosphere was closer to an art gallery opening than a furniture store.
Was It Successful?
A queue of customers had snaked it’s way around the shop. It was an enormous success.
So What Can We Learn?
I want to take the word “Experience” out of Customer Experience for a second. I’ve signed up to a few different loyalty schemes in my time, ranging from grocery companies to airlines, and the majority of the time the rewards are predictable and lacking in any kind of imagination. Usually I get coupons and promotional information sent to me in the post.
Customers are giving the retailer a lot of valuable information about themselves when they sign up for a Customer Relationship Management system.
What sort of experience are you giving your customers when you send them coupons? What sort of experience are you giving them when you open your store to only them, serve them refreshments and treat them like they are part of an exclusive club?
Obviously the grocery stores are not in a position to offer customers an exclusive late-night shopping experience, but grocery shops aren’t in the same league as something like an airline or a fancy furniture store.
Customers have a choice. They could choose to save money and go to Ikea, or go to Habitat and spend a little more for a better experience. They could choose Ryanair, or go with a more expensive airline and enjoy a better experience.
Why do your customers choose your company? Are they spending more for a better experience, and if so, how can you provide more value by enhancing that experience.
Rewarding customers is a great way to incentivise loyalty, but having imagination and being creative about how you reward them is what will set you apart.