The rage lately is the online coupon craze that seems to be increasing every day. I have to admit I love coupons and purchase the old reliable Entertainment Book for my kids every year and sneak one in for myself. We've been doing that for years and I always get a rush when I page through the new book and find the hidden treasures of discounts.
I'll admit that I typically only use coupons to restaurants or other establishments that I've either been to or know a little about. I'm a pretty loyal consumer so branching out and trying new things is typically not my style. If I use a brand that has worked for me I keep using it until it doesn't meet my need any longer. My husband on the other hand will try new brands just to change things up a bit. My response is if it's working, why would you take the risk of trying something and not liking it? His response is how do you know until you try?
Grouponand other online coupons hit my email box daily and I am selective about which ones I purchase. I think I'm carrying around six different coupons to restaurants and golf courses in my purse. Some of them I've had for months and I am just waiting for the right time to use them. I have to admit I experience a bit of a rush when I get a half off deal for a meal or better yet golf!
Businesses who use these coupons to market their products or services have a customer strategy to attract new customers and keep them for life. I've read some of the resistance from some businesses who claim that these discount coupons are taking business from them and forcing them to drastically cut prices to compete with the businesses who use them. Another complaint I've heard is that the consumer visits for the one time with the coupon and then they never see them again. To that I say, "What are you doing to keep them once they get to your business?" I find it interesting that the some business owners fail to see the opportunity here and don't take advantage of this great way to grow a customer base.
8 Ways to Retain Those Coupon Clipping Customers
1. Create a Great Experience
Most of us have become accustomed to mediocre service. We visit an establishment, whether it is a restaurant, dry cleaner, auto repair shop or hair salon, and as long as we receive the product or service we were expecting, we are okay with it. What separates the "boys from the men" if you will is that extraordinary customer experience. If you know you will have new customers coming to your business, prepare for them and create an experience they won't forget.
2. Provide a Clean Facility
Whenever I'm new to a business, I tend to assess them on the cleanliness of the facility. If the front door has finger prints and the restroom has debris laying on the floor, it sends a message to me that cleanliness is not a priority. However, when I see employees cleaning and picking up trash, I know it is a priority - and that sends me a message that they care about their customers.
3. Be Stocked and Prepared
If you know you sold 563 coupons, be prepared for the influx in customers. Make sure supplies are ample to handle an increased number of customers. Most customers don't like when they drive to an establishment and order something or try to purchase something that is not available or sold out. I've been to restaurants that were out of multiple entrees at the same time. Not conducive to retaining customers. Be smart with your orders to make sure you can handle the crowd.
4. Refresh Customer Service Training Skills
A coupon campaign is a great time to review your customer service standards with employees to make sure they are delivering service to your customers in a standardized way. Get them excited about the influx (instead of dreading it) by providing some incentives for the increased traffic to the business.
5. Mingle with the Newbies
I love when I see a manager walking around a restaurant, store or other business who stops and asks how things are going. It communicates to me that they care about my experience and want to make sure all goes well.
6. Offer an Incentive to Return
There are all kinds of promotional programs out there and the good ones are successful at retaining customers. I belong to a few frequent flyer programs but I recently dumped one of the carriers because of back-to-back bad service experiences. The point being, point programs or incentive programs without great service won't buy any customer loyalty.
7. Show your Gratitude
A simple thank you to customers as they walk out the door sends a message that their patronage was noticed and valued. I love walking out of places and the employees hold the door open and thank me for coming in.
8. Solicit Feedback
Soliciting customer feedback is a tricky thing. I value feedback and like to give it unless I feel it is done distastefully. By that I mean being bombarded with requests from employees or repeated email requests. Create a structured customer satisfaction process that is sensitive to the customers while still providing valuable feedback for your product or service.
Launching a coupon campaign is a great way to get new customers in the door but don't be foolish enough to think you will keep them without ensuring your business is pulling out all the stops to give them an experience they won't forget - and makes them want to come back!
Have you launched a coupon campaign for your business?
photo by: Aaron Landry
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