Making Customers Your Ally
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA, Contributing Editor
Retailers love customers who actively recommend the products and/or services found at their store(s) and these “engaged customers” can play a critical role in the long-term profitability of companies. This pattern of customer activity is based on commitment, loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. It goes beyond the act of purchasing, and greatly improves a retailer’s image and influence with gaining new customers. But how do you, as a retail dietitian, get shoppers to become your ally and provide positive testimonials? And more importantly, how can you leverage meaningful customer interactions to help show management your value? Here are a few tips:
- Don’t be shy. If you’ve provided stellar customer service, or helped a shopper solve a difficult problem, don’t shy away from asking if they would like to share their experience. A highly satisfied customer is typically very happy to talk about their story.
- Ask immediately. Right after a positive customer interaction, ask how your services helped and why your solution was important to them. Then summarize what they’ve said back to them and ask if you can use it as a testimonial.
- Follow the customer’s journey. There may be another point in your customer’s journey when you can obtain valuable feedback. For example, six months after they have successfully completed your weight management program, or a month after you’ve provided special dietary guidance utilizing your better-for-you private brand products.
- Use your customer loyalty card. Work internally to see if there is a method for tracking any purchasing changes for those customers that have received personal nutrition counseling or attended a store tour or class you conducted. Increased basket size trends and new product purchases can highlight the value your services are providing by creating customer loyalty and driving sales.
- Get helpful information. Get a testimonial that helps you promote your value. That typically means asking questions that focus on the results and benefits people get from your services, and on anticipating any typical objections they might have.
- Incentivize. When asking customers to take the time to provide feedback or fill out a survey it helps to offer an incentive if possible. Perhaps a small store gift card or free better-for-you product coupons. This way you both win!