This article was contributed by Ball State University.
When the aisles are packed and checkout lines are long, customers will shop at trusted retailers that place a premium on knowing their needs, says Ramon Avila, a marketing professor and the founding director of the H.H. Gregg Center for Professional Selling at Ball State University.
He says good relationships with customers will help smaller retailers thrive during the holiday season that runs through New Year’s Day.
“Building these relationships is important because they will insulate a business from price competition. Customers are willing to pay more or slightly more because they like how they have been treated as well as the service provided,” says Avila. “And if this retailer makes an error, we are more apt to let the retailer fix it and continue to do business there. If the relationship is tenuous, we may go somewhere else.”
He says that during the next few months, retailers should ask valued customers:
- How are we doing?
- Are we meeting your needs?
- What services would you like added?
- How do you rate us in terms of your expectations?
- What are we best known for?
- What can we do better?
“Strong relationships with customers will give any retailer a competitive advantage in a challenging economy,” says Avila. “Smaller operations are going to have to know their customers’ names and offer those little services that make a difference.”