Fast Company

Reigning Them In: Keeping Customer Relations Alive in the New Year

With the New Year upon us, it’s time to make our annual resolutions for the year to come. Hopefully the holidays were good for retailers, and they saw an increase in face-to-face customer interactions, particularly at the point of sale. But did you as a business make the most of the experience, or did you let valuable resources walk out the door when your customers left with their receipt and merchandise? Customers are by far a business’ most important asset, so it’s paramount that we as business people make the most of every interaction with them, starting at the point of sale. Whether you use a sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) system built into your point-of-sale software system, or simply put out a signup book, it’s vitally important to capture as much information about your customers as they are willing to share. At the very least, this information will give you insight into where your customers are coming from when they visit your store, as well as their demographics - all data that can prove useful in future sales and marketing efforts. A few sure-fire ways to make the most of the point-of-sale customer interaction: Get the email address. At a minimum, get the customer’s email address for use in your email marketing efforts. Even if you don’t yet have a full-scale marketing program, collecting the email addresses for future use is important. Getting permission to be in a customer’s inbox helps nurture and grow the relationship. Solicit feedback on business, products, or services with a short survey. You can print the URL for an online survey right on the receipt or, if you have permission to email customers, send them a follow-up email thanking them for their purchase and asking them for feedback. These surveys should be short and to the point, so they capture a customer’s feedback on the sale that’s just happened, not on every aspect of your business operations. If you do not currently have a survey tool, there are plenty of online survey tools available. Promote your online presence. Use the space around your point-of-sale terminal to promote your various social media profiles. Direct your customers to your Twitter stream, Facebook Fan Page, or even your blog. All of these offer additional touch points for acquiring, connecting, nurturing, and growing relationships with your customers and provide increased opportunity to drive sales. The sale itself is your number one priority, without it, there wouldn’t be a business - but there are plenty of other opportunities to strengthen the customer bond at the point of sale. Make sure to take advantage of these, particularly during the frenetic holiday season. If you’re not already making the most of the customer interaction in your store, resolve to do so in 2010 by making use of the tips above. Happy New Year!

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