It’s no longer enough to have a storefront where you stand inside and wait for people to come to you. When you engage with your customers in meaningful ways, you have what it takes to create long-lasting relationships, glowing reviews, and new customers through word of mouth.
Let’s look at restaurants as an example.
Before the spring of 2020, restaurant owners began with an idea. They found the funding. They may have searched for the ultimate location and hired their team members.
Working themselves or with their hired kitchen staff, they created a menu and an eat-in, take-out experience. Then they did some promotional advertising and waited for customers to show up or call.
Now in a post-pandemic world, we can see how some restaurants have adapted successfully.
Many scrambled to create websites that included a way for people to order online or have their carryout delivered to their homes or cars in the parking lots.
The way you engage with your customers speaks volumes.
Let’s compare two conflicting experiences in local restaurants that I’ve experienced.
At a local sushi restaurant that had been one of my favorites before the pandemic, struggled to adjust to lockdowns and covid concerns. Instead of recognizing customers by name and doing the little extra they were known for, ordering from them became a transactional experience.
Of course, with all the challenges and supply chain issues, the prices of menu items went up, but the food quality became inconsistent.
On the other hand, is a local Thai restaurant.
Yes, they also had to increase their food cost, but it’s consistently good, so patrons don’t mind paying more for a good experience.
Along with consistently good food, I’ve always felt recognized and appreciated (even if I haven’t ordered from them in a while) How? Because they have a database and recognize people who have ordered from them before!
They’ve made it easy to order either online with delivery apps, or by phone for pick up. The dining experience has always been excellent at this restaurant and over the last two years they expanded their outside patio.
My only recommendation is they add reaching out to their customers on a regular basis either by email or on social media. I’d like to know if they are offering a special or if they are adding new items to their menu.
Restaurants have been at the forefront of awareness because of the impact of lockdowns and customers choosing not to dine indoors.
However, the same approach that had some restaurants survive (and even thrive) over the last two years applies to every brick-and-mortar business. It’s no longer enough to open your doors and wait for customers to come to you.
Every brick-and-mortar business must cultivate its customer base.
The days of keeping business strictly transactional are behind us. So how can you engage your customers to ensure you’re at the top of their minds?
How do you stay top of mind? The rule of thumb is your business must cross your customers’ awareness at least once a month so that when they want something you offer, they think of you first:
- Have an active social media presence where your customers are
- Create a subscription program for customers to make life easier for your customers (https://www.pattimara.com/decoding-subscription-models-for-any-business/)
- Ask if people would like to be on an email/SMS list to get what’s new ahead of everyone else (and then communicate what’s of value to your customer)
- Offer a loyalty program that includes capturing customer data to be able communicate with them
Ensure that your website is user-friendly! I recently went to a local store’s website, which was challenging to navigate. I had a specific item in mind and couldn’t tell if it was in stock.
When I tried to call to check with someone before heading over, it felt like I was interrupting the person who answered the phone.
A decorator I know turned poor service at one store she frequented into an opportunity for a new relationship with their competitor. After receiving better service at the new place, they gained her loyalty.
Give your customers a reason to do business with you.
They need to see why they should choose you over other local businesses or online. The profound skill of being able to pay attention to the customer experience is critical nowadays.
Think about the way your team members engage your customers. Are their actions and conversations reinforcing or removing the value your business provides?
I’d love to hear how you’re positively engaging with your clients. Share in the comments!
Click here to download my free ebook, Reinventing During Disruptive Times