Friday, September 4, 2009

Build Store Advocacy Beyond Customer Loyalty

You can't afford to focus on the wrong objectives. Your time and money as a retailer are too limited for you to do that. Keep your focus on building store advocacy, not just customer loyalty. Store advocacy means how often and how strongly your customers praise you to other potential shoppers with specifics. Beyond "I love to shop there," to "I get an excellent price on top-quality herring," "Almost everyone there listens to my questions and gives me useful answers," and maybe most important of all, "I don't go out of my way to recommend stores to people, but I feel real good about recommending this one to you."
     The trouble with you stopping at customer loyalty is that retail analysts have been pointing out for some time now how customers aren't all that loyal, even if they ever really were over the past few decades. Current customers may enjoy shopping with you, but with the exception of your family and close friends, unless you work consistently and vigorously to maintain that habit, current customers are not highly resistant to giving their business to somebody else.
     The term "customer relationship marketing" is excellent shorthand for reminding us retailing professionals of the importance of every interaction between the shopper, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the staff members, the signage, the reward programs, the cleanliness of the parking lot, and on and on.
     But as researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland point out, customers don't often describe their interactions with retailers as "relationships."
     Give your customers lots of specifics to praise you about as they talk to others. Go ahead to ask them to tell others about their experiences in shopping with you. To encourage them to practice doing this, regularly ask your customers how you are doing.

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