Whether you run a restaurant, a book store, a gym, or similar kind of business, success boils down to one thing: getting customers to come back. That might seem simple in theory. However, gaining customer loyalty can be tricky in reality.
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In any industry, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of competitors ready and willing to take your business. This is doubly true if you live in a big city. Your business needs to be creative to keep people coming back. One way to do that is by rewarding customer loyalty.
What Is a Customer Loyalty Program?
So what is a customer loyalty program? It is an infrastructure businesses can implement in order to reward their regular customers for bringing in their repeat business. You have no doubt seen punch cards offered by coffee shops and diners. Often, they offer something like one free coffee after the purchase of ten. Other sorts of businesses have adapted this model in unique ways. For example, used book and record stores—even tattoo parlors—have customer loyalty programs.
There Are Different Types of Customer Loyalty Programs
While punch cards are the most common, they are certainly not the only form of customer loyalty program. Certain businesses, like electronics shops and movie theaters, offer customers the opportunity to sign up for special memberships. Customers who sign up can accumulate points toward future purchases.
Discount cards are a similar way of encouraging customers to return. As a matter of fact, there are multiple ways to intrigue customers with these programs. Some businesses charge a small sign-up fee. Others charge month-to-month. Still others offer them free of charge.
The best way to implement a program like this is to offer customers plastic cards. This might seem expensive and logistically complicated. However, in truth it is quite simple.
Companies like Avon Security Products sell plastic card printers. These printers are quite easy to set up and use. Many of them include a camera and high-resolution photo printing. This means you can customize your cards however you’d like.
Why Not Use Email?
Another popular form of customer loyalty program is an email list. Offer customers the opportunity to sign up for weekly or monthly emails. These messages would inform of customers of your business’s various discounts, events, and workplace developments. Offer specials and coupons specifically for those people who have signed up for your email list.
Additionally, allow people on your email list early access to products, before you start advertising them publicly. Since they’ve signed up, they likely have more interest in your product than the average customer anyhow. Another benefit is that it will keep your business in the minds of those people who regularly receive your emails. In other words, they will think first of your business when they need something you offer. What’s more, they will be less likely to visit a competitor.
Show Your Customers Some Love
Why not just practice some random acts of kindness? For instance, give out free cookies or candies at the front counter. Offer 50% off coffee for people who come in during certain hours.
Perhaps you could dedicate a day to “pampering” your regular customers. For example, give out free donuts, special discounts, or coupons for other shops in the neighborhood. Build a reputation as a fun and friendly place that appreciates its customers. The more your customers know that they are going to be rewarded for their business, the more likely they are to return.