The age of the consumer has revolutionised the way businesses operate – it has shifted the focus to be more consumer-centric. Trying to increase customers and improve on customer service in this current economic environment might seem daunting and overwhelming at the best of times, but with the right strategies being implemented you will succeed in the long term.
There are various ways to find new customers but it is important to first have a clear understanding of the market in terms of a consumer’s needs, behaviour and characteristics and what your unique value proposition is. This would involve conducting qualitative or quantitative market research and analysis to uncover market segments or elements that you might not have been aware of before. The results will assist you to adapt to consumer needs – this might include technological advancements that enables convenient purchasing i.e. McDonalds are implementing self-ordering facilities around the world in addition to adding healthier items to the menu, this unlocks new market potential.
Make sure your customer’s expectations match up with what you have to offer the market segment – if you exceed their expectations then retention levels will be higher. This is especially important when you work with customers, in any environment, whether it be retail, commercial, service, etc. It is important to realise that the people make the place – people being your staff and customers.
Some of the traditional techniques to increase sales include but are not limited to the following: (this may be relevant to selective industries):
- Cold Calling
- Networking opportunities
- References or referrals to your product or service offering
- Marketing initiatives or strategies (both online and offline)
Have you ever wondered why a well-known brand like KFC brings out a promotional item on the menu and a few weeks or even months later it just disappears? It is all about increasing the customer count and transaction average.
These promotions aim to attract new customers in order to increase their customer count a to get and existing customers to buy the promotional item to increase their transaction average spend. Once, i.e. KFC sees that they have reached their goal of their new customer count, the promotion then ends. KFC has now drawn in new customers and the count has stagnated, therefore the promotion is no longer drawing in new customers but rather just giving out a constant discount to current customers.
A very important formula to implement in your business is: Customer Count x Transaction Average = Sales. Businesses should strive to increase both.
This is a short-term technique to increase sales. Although it is important to attract new customers, it is even more critical to retain existing customers as they are the individuals who will end up buying bigger ticket items and increasing transaction average due to the convenience and trust built over time. Improving and maintaining a high level of customer service will ensure this.
2. Consumer Perception
Placing a long aisle to the pay-point influences consumer perception and they tend to buy more items impulsively than they initially might have bought, Dischem, Builders Warehouse, Pick ‘n Pay and a lot of other established brands do so – why? This is an effective way to instantly increase the bottom line of your business.
3. Up-selling and cross-selling
Up-selling and cross-selling are great techniques if your staff are well trained to anticipate consumer behaviour. This will add value to the overall buying experience. An example of cross-selling is where an Ackermans cashier always asks: “Would you like some airtime with that?”
Partnering with other brands to increase sales is another tactic to use e.g., Discovery partnered with various brands such as Kauai, Ster-Kinekor, Virgin Active and Pick n Pay, only to name but a few. This creates convenient solutions for customers and exceeds their expectations by offering an increased value add.
It is all about appearances – your store needs to look inviting and up to date, no one wants to walk into a store/business that is falling apart. In franchising, revamps are critical and mandatory every few years to ensure that the look and feel is up to standard.
Staff Selection and Training
Staff selection and training will be critical to add value to the customer experience and satisfaction. They are the touch point/connection to the customers and they need to ensure that each transaction forms part of an ongoing relationship. Even though initial training is important for franchisee/staff induction, refresher training should be
seen as equally important, this includes more in-depth training on certain elements of the business to keep on reiterating the importance and awareness of customer service and how to increase sales and retention. Training takes place on three levels; franchisee, staff and field service consultant (area manager) training.
An operations and procedure manual will assist in effectively communicating internal processes and knowledge (online manuals will allow you to update information consistently and ensure that there is continuous communication internally).
Communication and Support
Being available at all times to your customers has become increasingly important with online mediums – businesses need to react fast. Allow for interactive communication and feedback with your customers. e.g. social media, customer satisfaction surveys, newsletters, online support forums and tailored messages if you have access to a database with client information (this can be done through loyalty programmes). Consumers need positive reinforcement and connotations to your brand.
Customer Service Guarantee
Strive to be as confident in your customer service as The Sorbet Promise: If you are not totally satisfied with your treatment you do not have to pay, their mission is ensuring guests are 100% satisfied with the service.