Make Sure You’re Focusing on Your Best Customers


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The path to retail success sounds simple in theory: Build loyalty and create sustainable growth by delivering a great customer experience. By doing this, first-time customers become repeat buyers and stick with your brand, allowing you to maximize their lifetime value as customers. But this strategy is not as simple as it seems once you unpack the “customer” part of the formula.

It’s especially complicated now that the pandemic has shaken up old buying habits and new rules are changing how brands can communicate with customers. The truth is that everything is in flux. Are the people who fit your ideal customer profile in 2019 still your best customers in 2021? Many retailers are trying to figure that out by using surveys, which is a great way to take the pulse of the customer base.

Simple surveys like the Net Promoter Score (NPS) can give retailers insight into what customers are thinking. But like a hammer, NPS is a valuable tool only if the person using it has the skills to swing it effectively. Some retailers make the mistake of focusing on the wrong customers when they evaluate results, which can lead them down unproductive rabbit holes as they try to close the feedback loop.

Be careful about chasing the cherry-pickers

A closed-loop feedback strategy lets retailers continuously improve the customer experience by responding to feedback, often provided via survey. This is a crucial strategy, but the thing to keep in mind is that you need multiple quality interactions to fully understand who your best customers are. Plus, feedback from your best customers must take priority over demands from “cherry-pickers.”

In this context, cherry-pickers are potential buyers who are leveraging feedback opportunities to angle for one-sided advantages in their dealings with your company. In retail, the value exchange always has to be a two-way street. If you know who your best customers are, making changes to improve their experience makes sense because they deliver high lifetime value but making changes for cherry-pickers won’t have the same result.

The best way to figure out who your best customers are is to get opt-ins for further communication during every encounter. Ask permission to gather cookies and to respond to questions via Alexis or Google. Also ask customers for permission to reach out via text, email or phone. Being proactive about getting consent for further contact will become even more important as regulations to protect consumer privacy limit outbound contact.

Being there when and where your customers need you

Getting permission to carry on the conversation increases the number of quality interactions you can have with customers, and that’s the first step in identifying your best customers. The next step is to centralize customer data so you can analyze it and see who lines up with your ideal customer profile. Then you can focus on improving their experience.

At the end of the day, success depends on creating the best experience for your best customers. That will require achieving broad alignment: the best products, the best communication channels, the best customer journey and the best scores. When you know who your best customer is, it simplifies the processes involved in building loyalty, creating sustainable growth and maximizing lifetime value.

In other words, you have to make sure you are there for your best customers when they need you the most, which requires a deeper understanding of their challenges and what they expect from you. By focusing on your best customers, you can avoid chasing cherry-pickers and improve the customer experience for the people who make your retail operation successful.

Tara Kelly
As SPLICE Software's founder, Tara Kelly is passionate about technology’s potential to change lives for the better. She has consistently channeled that belief into developing technologies that enhance operations, enable better service delivery, and improve the customer experience. An open source activist and recognized user experience designer, Kelly has served as a board member for the International Board for Voice User Interface Design, the Canadian Cloud Council, Technology Alberta and the Entrepreneurs Organization.


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