How an SME Retailer Can Create Loyal Customer Evangelists

How does your small to medium size retail business treat and utilize the good will of your customers?

Consider these two scenarios:

Retailer A is a boutique wine shop with several locations in upscale, suburban communities. When prospective customer A walks thru the door, she is greeted in a friendly, genuine manner. A staff member approaches after a couple of minutes, offering her assistance. She engages customer A in conversation and finds out that she enjoys big, bold red wines. She then recommends several new wines that would suit her appetite. Customer A mentions that she read about the monthly wine social club on their store’s Facebook page and was interested in getting more information. They then have an informal discussion about several of the wines carried by the boutique. The customer decides on her purchase and provides her name and relevant information to the clerk when asked. Finally, the sales clerk obtains her permission to enroll her in the customer loyalty program. This customer continues to make regular purchases at this wine shop, earning savings and discounts on her future purchases. What’s more, she engages in frequent postings about events and wine education on their Facebook page, allowing her friends to see the activity and resulting in several new community members and potential sales.

Retailer B is an upscale boutique women’s apparel shop with two other locations in nearby suburban communities. Customer B walks into the shop and is not greeted at all because the two sales clerks are busy gossiping behind the counter about last night’s dates. She browses around the small boutique, seemingly unnoticed, as she searches for her favorite designer that is often carried at the shop. She finally approaches the counter to check if the store has a specific dress in her size. The clerk tells her they are currently out of stock and turns back to her conversation. She then goes online and purchases the dress from a different vendor.

The kicker? One of Retailer B’s other locations had this exact dress in the size needed. If the clerk had bothered to check, they had could have shipped the desired merchandise directly to the customer. Instead, Customer B bought her purchase somewhere else, and more importantly, communicated her displeasure with Retailer B’s lack of service with several local friends. Additionally, Customer B had shopped in their boutique several times over the past years and spent an average of $500 each time.

 If Retailer B would have had the systems and processes in place as Retailer A, they would have been able to quickly save the sale and enhance the customer relationship by identifying the out of stock item and locating it at another location. The culture of their store would have been one of fanatical customer service.

To the small and medium size retailer, a loyal customer is their best advertising. There’s no room for big budget marketing and splashy campaigns – word of mouth can make them or break them. Every customer, whether they are a happy or dissatisfied one, is an exponential tool for public relations. Did you know that acquiring a new customer costs over six times what it takes to keep an existing customer? That’s why every retailer should have a detailed strategy in place for tracking customer feedback and rewarding loyalty. The customers you currently have are worth their weight in gold.

A good strategy is

simple – concentrate on the CCR’s of customer service: Connect with your customers; communicate with your customers; and reward them regularly.


  • Whether you run a one man retail shop or multi-location store with several POS, you should be greeting customers as they come into your establishment. Encourage your team to pleasantly address customers and make a connection with them within five minutes of walking into your shop.
  •  Reach out and get to know your customers. Find out what their likes and        dislikes are. Ask for their name and zip code when they purchase an item, allowing you to track their buying habits.
  • Build a social networking community and engage with your clients consistently. Why is social media important? People may love your product, but will likely forget about it unless you are in front of them regularly. Remind them of all the services and products you offer. Inform them of special events. Give them information so they can become a loyal evangelist of your business.



  • An SME’s size allows for flexibility and quickness in its ability to gather customer feedback and react on a timely basis. Reach out to your customers to find out what they like and don’t like about your operations. Are you able to special order an item that a frequent customer would like? You may want to consider the cost versus its benefit, as that satisfied customer will likely tell five friends about your individualized service, which will ultimately snowball into great PR for your business.
  • Encourage customers to provide negative feedback along with praise, then deal with it quickly. Tools such as the company Facebook page, customer conversations, and requested feedback from after-sale follow ups can allow you to gain great insight into what they want, as well as what is working in your business. Respond to each negative comment constructively and quickly, as your customers will value your response.
  • Track customer buying habits and proactively inform them about upcoming sales, new merchandise they might like, and special events.


Are you rewarding your frequent customers for their purchasing loyalty? If not, consider that a large portion of your business is derived from repeat customers. They obviously like your operations – and if they know they will receive regular rewards and savings by continuing to be loyal, why would they go anywhere else?

Be careful, though – if your business doesn’t have a methodical system for tracking customer purchases, you may unknowingly omit loyal customers who aren’t as visible to your staff. Is the quiet shopper that comes by twice a year and spends $600 on each occasion any less valuable then the frequent visitor that spends $50 a month? Your staff may be more familiar with Customer B, who stops by the store weekly and makes small purchases. Forget about that infrequent regular shopper who isn’t familiar to your staff, and you risk engendering hard feelings. Word travels fast in a community.

Having a retail solution that tracks this data seamlessly for your business eliminates this problem. It’s also integral to make sure there is a policy in place for obtaining a named customer with each purchase.

The iVend Retail Management Solution, along with the iVend Loyalty solution, has the functionality that allows you to track important data about your customers so that your team can utilize it to make better use of their sales and service efforts. The iVend Loyalty solution gives you the capabilities to reward your valuable customers at every level and allow them to interact as well.

Fanatical customer service can only happen when supported by proper systems and processes.

Are your systems enabling your staff to create that bond with your customer base?

If the answer is NO and you are looking for a solution write to us on [email protected], we have a solution for you.

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