Business focus has shifted to be more consumer-centric. Trying to increase customers and improve on customer service in the current economic environment might seem daunting and overwhelm at the best of times, but with appropriate strategies, you will succeed in finding new customers 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 consumer needs, behaviour, characteristics and a unique value proposition.
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 to adapt to consumer needs – this might include technological advancements that enable convenient purchasing, i.e. McDonald’s is implementing self-ordering facilities around the world, in addition to adding healthier items to the menu. This unlocks new market potential.
Make sure customer expectations match your offer in the market segment. If you exceed their expectations retention levels will be higher. This is especially important when you work with customers directly in any environment, whether it be retail, commercial or service. It is important to realise people make the place – people being your staff and customers.
- Cold calling
- Networking opportunities
- References or referrals to your product or service offering
A formula to increase sales
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 because they are the individuals who will end up buying bigger- ticket items and increasing transaction average spend due to the convenience and trust built over time. Improving and maintaining a high level of customer service will ensure this.
Creating long aisles stacked with tempting products en route to pay points to entice consumers to buy more items on impulse. Examples of these are Dis-Chem, Builders Warehouse, Pick n Pay, Woolworths and a number of other established brands. This is an e effective way to instantly increase the bottom line of your business. Up-selling and cross-selling are also great techniques if staff are trained to anticipate consumer behaviour. This will add value to the overall buying experience. An example of cross-selling is where an Ackerman’s cashier always asks: “Would you like some airtime with that?”
Partnering with other brands to increase sales is another useful tactic. Discovery partnered with various brands like Kauai, Ster-Kinekor, Virgin Active and Pick n Pay. It creates convenient solutions for customers and exceeds their expectations by offering increased value.
Look and feel
It is all about appearances. A store needs to look inviting and up to date. No one wants to walk into a store or business that is falling apart. In franchising, revamps are critical and mandatory every few years to ensure the look and feel are up to standard.
The online experience
Being available to customers at all times has become increasingly important with online media. Businesses need a quick reaction and turn-around timelines. Interactive communication and feedback with customers enhance the online experience through social media, customer satisfaction surveys, newsletters, online support forums and tailored messages if you have access to a database with client information. This can also be done through loyalty programmes. Consumers need positive reinforcement and connotations to your brand.