Understanding which of your customers are profitable and keeping them satisfied will help you to improve business and maintain bottom lines. It takes effort and money to earn a new customer and also retain them for a long time. Experts in business development state that it is better of you lose some customers and instead concentrate on the ones which give better business and word of mouth publicity. If convenience store chains go by the age old philosophy which states that eighty percent of business comes from twenty percent of customers they have to identify the 20 percent which give them good business. Present advances made in database technology has made it easy now for both grocery store chains and C store chains to identify which customer is shopping regularly and how much business they are contributing to on an annual basis.
Customer analysis based on various parameters – To identify the best customers in your business and to increase their lifetime and also attract similar customers in future you need to have a foolproof analysis program in place.
Identify your customers and their requirements – By regular analysis of customer buying behavior you can identify different customer groups and also understand the objects they buy on regular basis. If you are one among several convenience stores in the area then try to talk to customers and understand what they seek to retain them. This will help you to separate floating customers from regular ones and you can concentrate on their needs.
Profiling customers by demographics – This may be a tough task but it is important to profile your customers by age, sex and income groups on a regular basis. This will help you to arrange your products accordingly and maintain the right ambiance which can encourage them to bring in friends and family.
Understanding market forces which bring customer to you – When you have less regular customers and more of casual drive-ins, try to gauge forces which drive them to your place. Is it the convenience of location, quality of products and service or the promptness and dependability. Find out prices and discount policies of competing stores in your neighborhood and then check with your customers about their views on pricing and what they would regard as fair price.
Track slow and steady business days – Maintain a tracking system to check number of steady and slow business days and manage your staff accordingly to manage customer flow. Keep a watch on behavior of your staff towards customers to check for disinterest and rudeness as this can lead to loss of customers and references too. This will help you to identify customers who are lowest spenders so you stop concentrating your marketing efforts on them and focus your energies on more profitable ones who bring in good business.
Maintaining customer relationship
Now that you have been able to identify your most valuable customers, your next task will be maintain a genial and long term relationship with them. Check if needs of your regular customers are being met and correspond with them on a regular basis to check for satisfaction level and if they will recommend your services to anyone else etc. Here are some easy tips to maintain client relationships based on understanding of their buying habits.
- Overall screen to identify your customers’ needs and providing them necessary objects to ensure they keep coming back to the convenience store chains wherever they are located.
- Identifying qualities which should be available in ideal customers for your type of business to save wastage of time and money on frivolous marketing campaigns.
- Determine which are your fast moving products and ensure that they are never out of stock.
- Listen to genuine complaints and take action to train employees to deal with customers in a professional way to prevent recurrence of problems.
- Have a suggestion box and give customer feedback forms on a regular basis.
- Give cash refund or replace damaged goods as requested by customer
- Do not have uncompromising return policies as it becomes frustrating for customers and first time casual shoppers will avoid your c-store chain wherever they go.
Marketing management techniques – Evaluate your existing marketing policies to see if it is attracting the kind of clientele you seek. With information technology and data mining it is easy for companies to gauge how each marketing strategy is able to influence customer behavior and bring in both casual and regular shoppers to the c-store chains.
Advertising to create urgency and motivation – These are regular sales campaigns carried out during festival times to encourage customers to visit them and make their bulk purchases and receive discounts. To create urgency among customers the sales campaigns are made by both online and offline resources in which discounts and promotional offers are made on products which are desired but are not purchased due to expensive price range.
Implement business formulas – Replace old techniques of customer service and employee motivation and use latest technologies to have fast moving checkout outlets so customers do not get frustrated by long lines. Keep interesting daily use items on the way to checkout so customers can pick them up while waiting in line.
Effective inventory techniques – To reduce inventory pileup and improve turnover have an inventory which can track performance of products in all c-store chains under the brand. Check with your customers if they like your store layout and how you can help them find desired products easily.
Identifying your profitable customers is only half the battle and retaining them through their entire lifetime is the toughest part of the war as you treat and cajole them to stay away from competition. Segregating customers does not imply that you treat one well and disregard the others, but it should aid you to develop customized plans to attract and retain high spenders and also use them to attract new ones. Determining customer lifetime will also help you to manage profits by devoting resources to sell to generations of customers.