A trip down memory lane
Today’s post is written in first person by Blake Pack, who runs our blog.
One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to jump in the truck with my dad and drive around town as he ran his errands. As kids, we welcomed every opportunity to put off our weekend chores. A trip with dad to run errands was a guaranteed 3+ hour intermission.
Dad loved to talk shop with store owners. He only ever shopped locally. He would occasionally visit a chain or big-box store when the local options didn’t carry the parts he needed, but when he could, he shopped small and local businesses. Dad wanted to catch-up with neighbors and support them by shopping in their stores.
It wouldn’t matter which store we visited, the manager would greet my dad by name, shake his hand, and ask about family or work. I don’t know that my dad had a relationship with these people outside of their stores, but you wouldn’t know that based on their interactions.
I found it interesting that some of the shops we’d visit my dad would talk and talk with the store manager, but we’d leave without buying anything. At other stores, we’d walk in, not say a word to anyone beyond common pleasantries, and spend several hundred dollars.
You probably have your own experiences. They may differ in the details, but generally speaking, it’s safe to say the business/customer relationship has drastically changed in the past decade alone.
Not all customers are created equal
Even when local and small businesses were the go-to location for the majority of shoppers, a store manager, shop owners operated under a lot of assumptions and gut instinct. They had no better idea if my dad was coming in to spend a lot on parts or to shoot the breeze about some engine he was fixing.
And this was in a time when small business owners and their customers had a much more open dialogue. There was a relationship between the owner and their customer that owners are struggling to develop today.
Those barstool chats have all but gone the way of the dodo. There may be a handful of those customers who you know by name, who come in regularly, and spend a decent amount in your store, but the growing majority of shoppers are in-and-out customers. They walk in, don’t say much before they buy, and walk out.
While it may seem that a high level of connection only exists in the past, there may be a way for small business owners to ignite more of these relationships. It starts with getting to know your customers—and we mean really know them.
Know all your customers as if they’re your best customers
The relationship between your shop and customers continues to grow more virtual and distant. It’s never been more important to know who your customers are and how they help your business succeed. This isn’t to say you fixate on your biggest spenders. You should treat every person who walks through your store as if they’re your next loyal customer. New customers are still the life-blood of a business, without whom there would be far fewer repeat purchases. You should know the types of customers that come in and out of your store, so you can make the right investments to make your store more appealing to those patrons.
Knowing your best customers isn’t about preferential treatment. It’s about knowing who they actually are and ensuring they feel as welcome and cared for as your more engaging customers. Knowing your customer base is about growing your repeat business.
For example, do you know what percentage the following three customer types make up your business?
- The advocates: They promote your business like it’s their own. They purchase from your store regularly. They know you by name as if they were your next door neighbor and visa-versa.
- The MVPs: They may not be your most talkative shopper, but they spend more money at your store than any of your customers and do so frequently. A surprising number of customers are this type.
- The loyalists: They don’t spend a fortune with you in each purchase, but if their buying anything, you can bet it’s in your store, and they’re happy to tell their friends about you.
Back then it may have been easier. It was seemingly more natural for shoppers and store owners to forge a bond. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to build lasting relationships today.
Just because you know their name, doesn’t mean you know them
Knowing your customers is about more than just knowing their name or common friends. It’s bigger than knowing birthdays or most recent purchases. That information is helpful in growing digital connections. It allows owners to give their marketing outreach a more personal touch with birthday discount offers, but there is a bigger picture.
Knowing your customers will help you uncover ways you can promote your store to better fit their needs and the products or services they want. Every business owner has a wealth of information about their customers. It’s just hiding in their credit and debit card transactions. Those analytics will help you understand the health and status of your customer base. If your business is made mostly of repeat business or new customers, you’ll be able to make informed decisions that best suit your customer’s needs, and continue to grow your business.
You don’t need to get lost in the data and information on your shoppers. But you do need to know them, who they are, and how they shop, if for no other reason than you deserve to know them.
Shine the light on your customer base. You deserve to know
For the better part of the past decade, online retailers and big-box stores had the advantage over local businesses. Those giants have been using and relying on their customer data to get ahead of trends, anticipate seasonality, and form relationships with their customers.
Small, local businesses have neither had the access, nor the time. Until now, small business owners and managers have had to rely on industry averages or best practices, but that’s not enough. You deserve to have access to your data and see the trends and demographic information of your customer base.
We’ve discussed the importance of small and local businesses utilizing their own sales transactions and data. It’s your business. You deserve to know your customers the same way big businesses and online retailers do. Leveraging your data enables you to amplify your customer outreach, your customer engagement, and forge new customer relationships. Data give you an intelligent way of getting to know who your customers really are.
Learn how Womply’s customer management solutions shed light on your customer base by turning your card transactions into insightful, easy to understand analytics. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!