By Lloyd Fritzmeier

With the economy sluggish, it’s time to step back, re-think your business, and do everything you can to build your store traffic.  And, this process should begin with a whole new focus on building stronger customer loyalty.

How many times have you entered a store, and the staff continued talking among themselves without acknowledging you were there?  They treated you like they were doing you a favor by even speaking to you. And, when that happened, how long did it take to decide you’d never come back… and you’d certainly never recommend that store to a friend.  Or, worse yet, you went out of your way to tell a friend about the poor experience.

You can’t afford to let this happen in your store.  Since the mid 90’s, the retail landscape has changed, with Starbucks and other retailers raising the expectations of consumers for how they expect to be treated by the staff.  Today, people expect to have an emotionally satisfying experience whenever they go into a store, and, in fact, within a tough economy, they often shop or visit a restaurant to feel a little better about their day, to enjoy a “small reward” in the midst of the daily pressures they feel.

Therefore, you need to give your customers a wow experience they’ll remember and talk about, because the most powerful “tool” you have for building more loyal customers is positive “word-of-mouth.”  To do this, you need to follow the Platinum Rule:  “Do unto others as they would have you do to them.” I worked with one client on identifying the value and behaviors that reflected this rule and would shape a higher commitment to service, and this is what they came up with:

Be Customer Maniacs

  • Treat everyone like they’re the most important person in the store.
  • Do everything to make them happy
  • Get to know your customers – show them you care
  • Listen to them
  • Appreciate them – smile, welcome them, use their name, thank them and ask them back.
  • Exceed their expectations.

Not surprisingly, as their people in the stores better understood what was expected and started “walking the talk” on these behaviors, their customers become more engaged, and their traffic increased.  Before long, there was a genuine feeling of goodwill with their customers that didn’t exist before.  So, develop your own set of behaviors and then hold yourself and your people accountable for being customer maniacs themselves. You’ll be glad you did… and, so will your customers.

Lloyd Fritzmeier is a leadership coach and strategic advisor with The Starfish Partnership. Contact him at (404) 551-2964 or lfritz@sfritz.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.