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All You Need is Love

Customer experience is an important aspect of brand image. In fact, it should be one of the major focuses of your integrated marketing communications plan. How the customers experience your brand will impact your bottom line, because at the end of the day it costs more to obtain a new customer than it does to retain the ones you already have. With this being the case, the money you spend on external marketing campaigns, such as brand awareness and advertising, will only be effective if and when the customers walk through your door; you show them the love.

Many of you are competing in saturated markets. At any given time, your customers could take their business to your competitors. If they feel appreciated, acknowledged and genuinely concerned for, they may not come back to you. Your competition may also be offering rewards or incentives that could drive your customers into their arms. However, you know the saying, “money can't buy you love” is true. Beyond rewards and incentives, it's the actual relationships that matter most.

Show your customer you care about their business and care about getting to know them by being available. Strengthen the relationship with them by being seen during all hours of business operation. Know who shops or supports your business by name, talk to them and show a genuine concern for their well being. Ask about their families, pets, etc. Share details about yourself while keeping it casual and positive. Your customers are not your friends who you can complain to, nor do they want to hear intimate details of your life

.Like any relationship, the one with your customers needs to be a two way street. You must be willing to give, not just receive. Give your customers a reason to return, a reason to talk about you to others and reward them for being loyal. This can be done by showing gratitude with a simple “thank you,” or a thoughtful, handwritten note (not just during the holidays). Loyalty programs or referral bonuses can also be effective. In addition, consumers appreciate when you reward them with something that extends beyond the scope of your business. Give them a gift card or coupon for another local business, movie tickets, or buy them a coffee.

Finally, there is an actual trend in charitable giving. Your customers want to support a business that has strong local ties, so give back to your community. This will also integrate nicely with your public relations efforts – another key ingredient to your marketing mix. Keep it local, relevant to your industry and aimed at a cause your target market is concerned with. If you're still not convinced of the importance of the customer experience, remember that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Treat them well. Like any relationship, the one with your customers should be based on mutual respect and appreciation.

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