Having friendly staff, excellent service, and a unique in-store retail experience are all great ways to get return customers. However, these strategies can be difficult to measure and maintain as a business grows. Creating a sense of community within your brand is a powerful aspiration, but what exactly does that look like? More importantly, the question business owners should ask themselves is this: how do you reliably create that exceptional experience at every store location and every business touchpoint, from online to in-store?
The impact of poor, unreliable customer experiences is huge. A 2018 study from Marketing Dive says “48% of shoppers have left a brand’s website and made a purchase from a competitor because of a poorly personalized experience.”
While making customer service superior and dependable can take extensive staff training and may cause your business culture to change, the process will surely prove to be beneficial, and it all starts with understanding customer data. Customer relationship management or CRM is a phrase to describe tools that collect, store, and use data to improve service. For many top retailers, CRM tools take their customer service to the next level. Once businesses have useful data on who their customers are, they can use it to streamline the store experience and ensure everyone gets white-glove treatment based on their exact needs, wants, and past transactions.
CRM: Make a Worthwhile Profile
CRM software, within a store’s retail management system, empowers businesses to create complete profiles and histories for each customer, including every interaction and transaction. For example, high-level CRM tools can display the number of purchases a customer has made on an e-commerce site and at the register. This information is accessible across the entire system, meaning any time that customer visits any store location, sales associates can know who they are.
Just how powerful is it to know a customer? Well, one report by Infosys says, “59% of consumers who have experienced personalization say it has a noticeable impact on their purchasing.” The same report goes on to say that consumers are in favor of personalization across nearly all retail industries.
CRM tools allow businesses to know customers with customized profiles with detailed notes. Are they a frequent shopper? Do they have an anniversary coming up? Do they have unique or valuable product tastes based on their shopping history? Advanced CRM solutions can display all of this information, giving any sales associate the power to recognize and reward VIPs.
Metrics, Metrics, Metrics
Getting the full customer view is important when it comes to single transactions, person to person. That said, CRM functions become especially powerful when that data is used to paint a full picture of entire product trends. Built-in, automated sales tracking within a retail management system can help businesses understand and track sales activities, opportunities, and close rates with real-time reporting. These sales tracking tools take the guesswork out of inventory orders with generated charts and reports, showing managers exactly which products and brands are in-demand. Are pink cell phones more popular than white? That information can be known at a glance.
This fact-based approach to product trends is part of giving exceptional customer service. CRM tools combined with sales analytics mean business owners can predict customers’ needs and quickly close sales.
Give Them More: Perfecting Perks
Many leading businesses have some kind of membership card, preferred-customer discounts, and loyalty programs. These incentives are potent for turning one-time customers into repeat business. When considering one store over another, they are more likely to pick the one that gives loyalty points. Customers will travel far and wide to finally cash in for their free product. Who doesn’t love free stuff?
One 2017 report from Forrester Research found that “72% percent of US online adults belong to at least one loyalty program.” The report goes on to show these programs have a significant influence over where people “shop, how much they spend, and what they buy.”
The tricky part for businesses is running these programs. Businesses that have complicated or messy loyalty programs can run into headaches at the till. While smaller businesses might be able to get away with stamping receipts as a form of loyalty points or filling out spreadsheets, those practices don’t scale well and can even be fraud risks.
This is where CRM loyalty features come in handy. Loyalty programs run through a retail management system can automatically update customer loyalty points and attach them to their profile. That way, when a customer goes to any brand’s store locations or e-commerce platform, they can access their rewards.
Want to understand your customers better? Learn how with the free whitepaper, Achieving a 360 Degree Customer View.