Crowd pleasers: 8 smart, affordable ideas to deepen customer loyalty

November 9, 2017

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. It’s been a long year, and a little kindness goes a long way—especially when it comes to customer loyalty. As you might know, existing customers spend 67% more than new customers. Hence, ‘tis the season for reminding your customers that you appreciate them!

There are loads of ways merchants can show they care without having to lavish big bucks on their customers. Loyalty programs, customer satisfaction surveys, and rewards are all easy ways to give back to your biggest fans. But, if you’re trying to run a tight ship, consider these creative, low-cost ideas to boost customer loyalty!

1. Pets are customers too!

They may not be paying customers, but showing pets some love can earn you loyalty for life. Set out treats and water for furry friends and customers will take notice. This is also a great way to drive foot traffic through your door when potential new fans are out for a walk!

2. Offer babysitting

No, not actually babysitting—that might be creepy. But you can entertain the little ones while the rest of the family shops around! Have some fun activities to distract kids while their parents get through their list. Scavenger hunts, games, puzzles, even just an area where kids can color might give parents a little peace of mind.

3. Send holiday cards

A handwritten note goes a long way, even if it does seem a little old school! Reach out to your customers with a cheery card or thank you just in time for the holidays. If celebrating the season isn’t your style, send handwritten notes throughout the year to recognize special events: a birthday, job promotion, or new addition to the family. That you took the time to sit down and write something is exponentially more meaningful than an automated email.

4. Clover Rewards

Loyalty programs don’t have to be big budget items. Clover Rewards is free to merchants and gives you the tools to offer simple, low-cost rewards to your customers. It’s also a great way to build a relationship with customers on-the-go, as it connects with a customer’s mobile. With this link, you gain the opportunity for other surprise-and-delight treats, like the free Clover app Promos. Create instant, in-the-moment mobile specials: think a free candy bar on Halloween or a free hot chocolate on the coldest day of the year.

5. Spotlight on social

Not into the handwritten cards idea? Give your best customers a shout-out on social! Let them know how much they mean to you. Keep it personal, sincere, and shareable. Twitter and Facebook can be both customer service and customer retention tools, so don’t limit yourself to marketing campaigns on those platforms. Plus: posts are free!

6. Put on a VIP event

VIP events don’t have to be pricey. Put on an invite-only after-hours event in your store, and invite your frequent customers! Especially during the holiday season, some extra time to shop after normal store hours will be greatly appreciated. You can make it feel like a real VIP event by adding snacks, drinks, and a rockin’ playlist.

7. When in doubt: snacks.

Remember in college when professors would offer free pizza at study sessions? The same principle applies here. Feed them and they will come! Offer cookies or other treats in your store for hangry shoppers. If your business is based online, surprise your customers with treats in the mail.

Running a restaurant? You can still get on the free stuff train. One fascinating study found big power in the humble after-dinner mint: waiters received a 21% better tip when they left two free mints at the end of the meal. Alternately, a jewelry store in Danbury, Connecticut gave out free carnations to any women who stopped in—regardless of whether or not they purchased anything.

8. Random acts of kindness

Falling under the surprise and delight category, randomly covering someone’s purchase or comping them a free lunch is one of the most powerful things you can do. Instead of paying it forward—where customers pay for other customers—give your customers something for free. That kind of karma will last a lifetime.

[image: View from Main Street by Loren Javier on flickr]

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