4 Ways to Build Trust With Your Customers

What efforts do you take to build trust with your customers? Building solid, trusting relationships with your customer base is one of the best ways to retain them. In fact, News Cred’s recent study revealed that among millennials, the top three brand loyalty drivers include a great product (77%), followed by brand recognition (69%) and trust (69%).

Research also shows that retaining customers is much cheaper than acquiring new ones. The longer a customer is loyal to a brand, the more money they spend. What does that mean for your bottom line? According to a study cited by Retention Science, increasing customer retention by just 5 percent increases profits by 25-95 percent.

Needless to say, building trust with your customers is a worthwhile and profitable endeavor.

Here are four ways to build trust with your audience:

1. Communicate with customers on a regular basis
Communications with your customer base should not revolve solely around purchasing. If customers feel like every communication is a sales push, before long, your attempts to connect will get ignored and you’ll dash any hope of building trust.
Instead, communicate with your customers on a regular basis. Consider emailing a regular newsletter, sharing links to helpful articles on your social media channels or providing how-to articles on your blog. Customers appreciate useful information that makes their day a little better.

For example, if you run a fast casual restaurant, create a monthly newsletter to highlights upcoming menu items and introduce new staff. If you run a cleaning company, share an article containing tips to clean up nail polish or general organizing or stain removing hacks. Be intentional with your communication. If customers hear from you with useful tips, product updates, relevant market research, etc… on a regular basis, your occasional promotional email won’t feel out of place. It’s just another message from a friend.

2. Provide quality customer service in your store

One of the best ways to gain trust is to offer your customers service they can’t find anywhere else. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your service inside your store is top-notch:

  • Make sure your staff is friendly.
  • Create a welcoming environment that keeps customers coming back.
  • Train employees to nurture your customer relationships. Don’t assume employees know how to interact with your audience, show them.
  • Collect and use feedback. Ask your customers to provide feedback and use it to implement changes that can improve their experience. Collect feedback in store and online.
  • Show gratitude. Make sure your customers know that you appreciate them. Send exclusive deals to your most valued customers, host a customer appreciation event and set up a loyalty program that rewards your customers for their continued support.

3. Consider providing customer support on social
With so many of your customers being on social media, using these platforms to offer service and support is quickly catching on. Xbox, a popular gaming system company, offers customer support through Twitter. Customers can tweet questions and get live help. It’s so popular that Xbox has created multiple accounts to manage the traffic.
If you plan to offer support on social channels there are a few tools that can help. ZenDesk, for example, offers software that manages customers’ requests and creates a self-help arena for customers to troubleshoot issues on their own. Desk.com is another option. It creates a universal inbox where you can help your customers through social sites like Facebook and Twitter all from one dashboard. Your online service should compliment your service efforts in store.

4. Own up to mistakes

Customers reward companies that are honest and transparent. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Whether you missed a service appointment or have products on back order, it’s important to communicate any issues or delays with those customers.
As soon as you’re aware of a problem, reach out. For example, when Adorama fell short on cameras, an email was sent to explain that the item was on backorder. The company apologized for the wait and offered additional relevant information like how to cancel an order.
Mistakes happen. Research shows 95% of complaining customers will forgive a company if a problem is resolved in the next interaction. So, in addition to being honest, you also need to act quickly. Customers expect swift solutions.

How do you build trust with your customers? Feel free to share any additional strategies or tips.

Boost Loyalty Program Participation

Loyalty program participation and enrollment are two completely different things. Participation is when your loyalty program members are actively engaged in the program. Its success is based on a high level of member engagement, not on enrollment. In this post, I will explain how to boost your loyalty program participation rates.

Enrollment vs. Participation

As I mentioned before, enrollment does not mean members are participating. Joining a program is easy, but getting people to engage, is the real goal. Typically, loyalty program enrollment is high but active participation is low. This is because many retailers both online and offline give a great incentive to join (which I recommend) but fail to offer any subsequent motivators or opportunities to engage.  The success is in the follow-up. The goal is to entice people to join your program and then give them reasons to engage.

Boost Loyalty Program Participation
The question now becomes, what do I do to get all the members I attract to my program to stay and participate? Here are 5 ways to encourage loyalty members to actively participate in your loyalty program:

1. Be Transparent
A survey conducted by Colloquy Loyalty found that the number one factor behind active participation in loyalty programs is simplicity. An astonishing 81% of respondents state that ease of use is important to them. So how do you adjust your program to these findings?

Keep it simple. You want your program to be as transparent and user-friendly as possible. Make sure your members know everything they need to know to actively participate. You must be very clear on how they will earn and spend points. Have an area of your site dedicated to educating members on how many points can be earned and how. The most important ones to be clear on are the number of points earned per purchase and the number of points required to redeem a reward.

2. Lots of Ways to Earn Points
Your members have grown tired of those standard retail loyalty programs that only give points when you make a purchase. They want a program that gives them a number of different ways to earn points. The same study by Colloquy found that 50% of respondents said that they participate more in programs that have multiple ways to earn.

Adding variety to your loyalty program is not hard to do especially with e-commerce programs. Online stores can easily offer rewards for things like social sharing, referring friends, birthdays and more. A solution like a Mass Mobile App makes it easy to add variety to your online loyalty program. You can easily integrate existing e-commerce platforms with Mass Mobile Apps.

3. On-Site Reminders and Cues
In the online world, you do not have a cashier asking every person who checks out if they would like to collect reward points on their purchase. That is why you must strategically place loyalty program reminders across your website especially on your homepage, above the fold. Not only does this remind existing members to participate it also acts as a point of differentiation from your competitors. If you have a program and they don’t, a potential customer will likely choose you. You can also use other on-site promotion methods like floating tabs, slider or hero images, and even pop-ups (just be sure not to annoy your customer).

4. External Reminders and Cues
Reminders on your site are great but they’re only effective if your customers are visiting you frequently. According to many studies, email marketing is the most effective and easy to use marketing tool available to today’s digital marketers.

A great way to boost participation in your loyalty program is to combine loyalty and email marketing into a “super campaign”. Use email to send your program members notifications relating to earning and redeeming points, special bonus offers and upcoming sales or promotional events. You can also email all of your non-program members to let them know about the benefits of the program. Combining your loyalty marketing and email marketing is one of the most effective ways to increase program awareness and boost loyalty program participation.

5. Obtainable Rewards
One of the biggest mistakes I see with any loyalty program is making the rewards too difficult to accrue. How is anyone supposed to get the 20,000 points needed for your reward if you are giving 1 point per $1 spent on your tea site? They would have to spend $20,000 to get a reward. Would you participate in that program?

Your loyalty program members become hooked on your program when they first spend points on a reward, not as they are accumulating points. That is why you need to make it easy to obtain rewards. I like to recommend a substantial points reward for referrals.  Help grow your membership organically. When a member refers a friend who makes a purchase, reward them handsomely and they will tell two more friends!
I also like offering a few of what I call “aspirational rewards.” These are rewards that are designed to be ridiculously hard to achieve. They give your program a talking point and can help differentiate your program. Just be sure there are plenty of obtainable rewards as well.

How Do I Know if Participation is Improving?
You now have a few things you can do to boost your loyalty program’s participation rate. But, before you race out and try all these new tactics at once, you will want to know how to measure success. Customer lifetime value, repeat purchase rate, and net promoter score can be key performance indicators. However, if you want to measure changes in your participation rate I recommend using your redemption rate. Your redemption rate shows you the percentage of your issued points that are being converted into a reward. If your members are participating, they will be spending their loyalty points. Start by performing the above equation today to get your baseline. Then make some of the above changes and measure your redemption rate again. An increase in redemption means that your participation is on the rise.

Just remember that if your redemption rate is currently below 20% you may have a serious loyalty program problem. If that is the case, feel free to contact us. You can also check out our free resources like our loyalty ebook library and video learning center.

Here is one business we’ve worked with to go mobile. Watch this video about Denim Industries:

Interested in getting your own retail mobile app? Click here for a free demo.

Increase Customer Spending : Six Ways to Encourage Loyal Spenders

Finding Value
For better or worse, I am somewhat of a regular at the local casino. I don’t have TOO many vices, and I’m always extremely responsible.  I have a pre-set limit of how much I’ll allow myself to spend per visit and have only exceeded it on a handful of special occasions. Many people I know spend much more on bar tabs or shopping sprees in a day than I spend in two weeks at the casino, and none of them will have a chance at striking it rich…but that’s enough of me trying to justify a bad habit of mine.

Each time go, I’m struck by the “favouritism” shown to the high rollers who saunter in only three or four times a year.  I may know the dealers by name, given how often I’m there, but I’m not spending enough for the casino to see any value in enticing me to return. It’s a business, after all.  And like any business, they need to pay close attention to the serious customers and encourage them to come back. Free meals and the odd free night will do just that.

What small business owners can do to encourage customers to spend more each visit
While regular customers are a good sign for your business and are absolutely worth your time to cultivate, at the end of the day you’re running a business. You need money to keep your doors open, and the more money somebody spends at your place of business, the more valuable they are to your success.

 

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to consider in order to increase customer spending per visit:

1. Build Loyalty  (You can read other entries on how to gain loyal followers, but our focus with this entry is how to increase customer spending per visit.)

You’ve no doubt heard us bang the drum on the importance of loyalty. That’s no coincidence.

In today’s world of retail e-commerce competition is higher than ever. Interested shoppers can search online for what they’re after to find the best price and free shipping. You want them to keep coming back to YOU.  You’ve already earned their trust.  Now you have to build loyalty. Consider having them try out a new premium, high-priced item. Let them know they are part of an elite “membership” with exclusive access. Not only will this make them feel special and a valued part of your business (which they are), you will also establish the perfect control group to test this new product or service you’re about to debut.  It’s also worth keeping in mind that loyal customers are far less sensitive to higher prices than infrequent or completely new customers.

2. Package Your Goods

“Would you like fries with that?” represents the quintessential package deal. Burger purveyors realized long ago the value of bundling their goods, which is why you would be hard pressed to find a fast food chain that didn’t offer some semblance of a value meal. Burger, fries and a drink may not be what you’re selling, but don’t overlook this tried-and-true mechanism of increasing your customer’s spending.

Some packages just make sense, plain and simple. If your business is in the hiking/backpacking trade, you probably sell your fair share of sleeping bags and tents. You also probably sell a considerable number of backpacks, water purifiers and hiking poles. Many of your customers are probably purchasing an item or two for a backpacking trip. Why not combine them and offer a slight discount on a bundle? If your customer buys a winter-rated sleeping bag, why not offer to throw in a set of hiking poles for 25% off? They may be in the market for the poles as well, and a small discount certainly won’t break your bank.

Another tactic to consider when it comes to bundling is to offer deep discounts on items that you’re struggling to move off the shelf. If you have an overflow of mosquito netting that you just can’t seem to offload, try offering it for 75% off with any purchase over a certain dollar amount. You may not be making as much (or any) money off the netting, but at least you’re reducing your inventory and making shelf space for something that will (hopefully) be a stronger seller.

3. Raise Prices
This is often seen as tremendously scary territory for small business owners – after all, consumers can be notoriously sensitive to increased prices and rightly so. But instead of viewing it as simply raising prices without cause, try and think about what kind of value and results you are providing, in addition to your goods and services. It may be wise to try and match your prices to be in line or under what your competition is offering. After all, don’t you feel your offerings are superior to theirs?

Test the waters with small increases – something as little as one to five percent on a basic or entry level item that you know to be popular. Give it a few months, then compare this data to your previous, lower price. Were customers disgruntled by the increase in price? Odds are, they were not, and with measurable data you’ll be able to see if the increase was worth it. Experiment with different prices for a reasonable amount of time and you’ll find that the market will dictate the pricing sweet spot for you.

Happy and comfortable customers spend more. Use that to your advantage.
In addition to some of the more straightforward tactics mentioned above,
there are a few seemingly non-traditional ones that are worth mentioning:

4. Follow Your Nose
If you run a bakery, cologne shop, or potpourri emporium, you can skip right over this – but for other small business owners, do not overlook the importance of a fragrant storefront. Studies by marketing services company DMX and the Smell and Taste Research Foundation have both shown that customers are not only more likely to make purchases in a pleasant-smelling environment, but are also willing to spend more money for the same item. The most popular fragrances to open up the ol’ wallet? Coconuts, flowers, and tropical gardens.

5. Let The Sunshine In
People tend to be happier in sunshine, and when people are in a better mood, they tend to spend more. A study conducted by the University of Alberta found strong empirical evidence that customers who shopped in an area with more natural light were more likely to make a purchase and spent more per visit – in some cases, as much as 56% more. Take advantage of sunny days and consider splurging on one-time upgrades such as skylights or additional windows.

6. Chill Out
According to a study conducted by Virginia and Houston universities, people spend less when they are hot. Whether we realize it or not, when we’re warmer (due to stress or weather), we are perceptibly less likely to make complex decisions (such as decide if something is a good deal or not) than we are when we’re cooler and generally more comfortable. So, when the hotter months roll around, don’t be a miser and try to skimp on the AC. Your higher utility bill may very well be offset by increased spending by your cool customers.

You can’t expect to convert all of your patrons into “high rollers”. Consider these tips as ways to turn somebody who typically purchases three items for $20 into someone who will regularly purchase four or five items for $25 or $30. It may not seem like much at the time, but it all adds up and more importantly, adds to your bottom line.

Here is one business we’ve worked with to go mobile. Watch this video about Denim Industries:

Interested in getting your own retail mobile app? Click here for a free demo.

5 Reasons Why Your Retail Store Needs a Mobile App

1   EVERYONE’S DOING IT

As cliché as this may sound, your competitors and their competitors are all producing apps for their retail location.  It’s no longer just larger companies like Best Buy and Starbucks but small to medium-sized businesses as well. Consumers are more likely to shop at retail stores that have mobile access than those that do not, simply because going in store and looking for products is one-dimensional.  Your customers want more. Mobile is becoming increasingly important for small business growth. If you want to keep up in the race, it’s worth looking into.

2   IT’S FUN

A mobile app allows consumers to be more interactive with your brand.  Cosmetic giant Sephora allows app users to test their products without putting any real makeup on using the “Beauty Board Feature”. Denim Industries created their app, “Denim Industries”, which lets you earn rewards while you shop.  It notifies customers of sales and events while allowing them to accumulate “Denim Dollars” to use on their next purchase. Just for signing up with the app, consumers receive 10% off all regular priced items, and can be added into random prize draws just for shopping at one of their locations.  This provides a fun and enjoyable experience at your store, giving your brand a personality.

3   INCREASING LOYALTY OPPORTUNITY

Coupons are great tools that provide an incentive for customers to shop, and an app makes the hassle of clipping out a small piece of paper from flyers and newspapers a thing of the past.  By simply offering 20% off exclusively through the app to customers who have taken the initiative to download it, will give them the benefit of exclusivity. First access to sales is another way both your business and your customers feel the bond of loyalty.  Customers will think “I must be a valuable shopper if they are sharing sales with me first.” Denim Industries has seen a great increase in customer satisfaction since implementing their mobile app as it gives customers exclusive discounts and coupons while allowing them to accumulate “Denim Dollars”.  Not only will customers be more confident that they have received the best deal, you still keep them coming back with the incentive of more “Denim Dollar” earnings.

4   IT’S EXTREMELY CONVENIENT

Customizable search engines allow users to find exactly what they’re looking for anywhere, anytime.  For those who need to go in and out of the store more quickly, Denim Industries provides the incredibly convenient “New Arrivals” function.  The app tells you exactly which products have recently arrived in store to make shopping a breeze. Target gives customers the option to ship items directly or pick up at a nearby store.  Offering a merchandise feature through your app that suits your customer’s lifestyle can enhance their shopping experience and boost your sales as a result.

5   CUSTOMER SATISFACTION INCREASES

People like to hear from other people – it’s human nature. So naturally, we want to know how others would rate the product or service we’re interested in purchasing.  ULTA, a chain of beauty stores in the United States, offers a mobile app which promotes customer feedback and has thousands of reviews of their products right there for you on the app.  Features such as a forum can help create a community around your company too, driving a positive association and dialogue that takes your brand from good to great. Features such as these help to create a connection between your business and its customers resulting in a much higher degree of customer satisfaction.

Here is one business we’ve worked with to go mobile. Watch this video about Denim Industries:

Interested in getting your own retail mobile app? Click here for a free demo.

When Will Your Company Go Mobile?

If you are a business owner today — no matter what size your business is — you need to start thinking about a mobile-first strategy if you have not already done so. In today’s world, businesses everywhere are looking for an edge, especially small businesses. Mobile can be that edge. It is no longer a question of if your business should adopt a mobile strategy, the question is when.

AT FIRST GLANCE – COST PROHIBITIVE

When small business owners start their research into app development, they might be discouraged when they find out what it is going to cost. The average mobile app can cost $270,000 to develop, according to a survey from Kinvey.

Those figures are sure to scare away most small business owners, and even some of the bigger ones. I have some unique insights into this process, having seen it from both sides.

SHARING MY SOLUTION

I have a retail background and in 2014, I was looking for a way to better connect with my customers. I tried many of the marketing tools available to me, including radio, magazines, flyers, email, social media and paid web. Some avenues had results and others did not, but with all the competition for the attention of my customers, it became increasingly difficult to stand out.

The goal of my marketing efforts was to get my message in front of my customers in the most effective way possible and to increase sales as a direct result of those efforts. A Google search for how to increase sales resulted in my “aha moment.”

BUILD LOYALTY TO INCREASE SALES

Businesses with loyalty programs generally have profits that are higher than businesses without one, and companies like Starbucks saw a 26% increase in profits after introducing a loyalty program. I began looking for ways to implement a loyalty program for my business and after a few days of research settled on a mobile loyalty app. In 2014, the mobile app landscape was not where it is today and what I was looking for did not exist, so I went out and built it.

ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE

As a retail owner who also founded an app development company, I know that a business owner today can design, build and publish their own custom mobile app for less than it would cost them to publish 10,000 flyers just once. The mobile app today is as essential to businesses as a website has been in the past. Over time, I believe it will become the most effective way to connect with and engage your customers.

So, I ask you….if not now, when?

Here is one business we’ve worked with to go mobile. Watch this video about Denim Industries:

Interested in getting your own retail mobile app? Click here for a free demo.

This article was originally posted on Forbes.com. Ali Ispahany is a regular contributor for Forbes.