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Do you look after the penny customers?

By September 4, 2014 Love your customer No Comments

LoopTurner2This is a Loop Turner. For the uninitiated, it isn’t a torture instrument, nor is it a prod to get children to tidy their bedrooms or do their homework.

Instead, it’s a natty little tool for turning fabric straps the right side out. When sewing, you generally sew right sides together so when you turn the item right sides out, all the seams are on the inside. This is generally very easy but when you’re making thin straps, it can be a struggle to turn these the right way out because you don’t have enough space to move the fabric through – unless you have one of these. So, very useful if you spend your weekends driving a sewing machine as I do.

It’s also pretty cheap. For something that saves a lot of time, struggle and swearing (ahem), it only costs about £3.50. And so, with some impending projects making their way fast up my list, I popped into town to the local sewing shop to buy one.

I stood in an empty shop for a couple of minutes looking at their haberdashery tools wall to see if I could see one. I couldn’t. Eventually the girl behind the counter asked if I needed some help. (Let me also explain that the haberdashery tools are displayed right next to the counter!). She didn’t know what a Loop Turner was, and called out for Catherine (not her real name) – the shop owner.

Now, I know Catherine (still not her real name), having shopped there for the best part of 12 years, including the purchase of lots of fabric and my first grown up sewing machine there a few years ago. (This original machine and I have spent most of this year bickering, and when it began to refuse to play its part in our relationship, and started to sulk big time, I’m afraid, dear reader, that it was instant divorce. I have now re-married – this time to a much bigger and more beautiful electronic, non-sulky and perfectly working sewing machine, and I’m totally in love….but I digress!!).

The thing is, I’ve spent a lot in the shop over the years, and as a sewing enthusiast, I’m likely to do so forever more.

So, for this customer loyalty, what do I get? Catherine shouts out from behind the curtain – “Loop Turners? Yes, they’re on the wall!”. Both the assistant and I reply that they’re not.

She calls out again, somewhat impatiently – “They are there; they’re long and thin – over on the left”. I replied with a “Umm, I know what they look like, and they’re definitely NOT there”.

At that, she came out. One look confirmed that they were indeed no loop turners on the wall. “Looks like we’ve run out then.” “Hmm,” says I. “Has there been a sudden rush on Loop Turners round here then?” (Small attempt at a mood lightening joke fell like a lead balloon). “No – we had a couple, and someone has obviously been in to buy them…” (I think I probably worked that one out on my own) “…I must get Beryl to put them on the list.”.

And with that, off she disappeared behind her curtain. No warm “Hello, how are you’s?” or similar acknowledgement.

And with her disappearance, also disappeared – rather rapidly – my customer loyalty. When I got home I ordered my loop turner from Amazon. (Is there anything they don’t sell?!)

Compare that experience with Jane (real name, this time) who owns The Patchwork Basket in Newent. I was after something in her shop. Same thing, small purchase item but she’d run out. She put my name down in her book, made sure that two bottles were allocated for me when they came in, said she would ring me – which indeed she did.

I don’t think Jane’s effort to make sure that I got my items took any more time than Catherine’s lack of effort to find out the loop tuner wasn’t on the shelf and that Beryl should put it on the list.

However, Jane recognises that building a relationship with your customers, and that looking after the small purchases, ends up paying the bigger dividends. Catherine may not have been bothered by the loss of £3.50 worth of revenue, but she should really. What she should be looking at is the LifeTime Value of her customers.

LifeTime Value (or LTV) is a marketing term simply meaning how much your customer or client is worth over the long term. Calculate the average purchase a customer makes, multiply it by the amount of times they buy from you, and then multiply that figure by the number of years they remain as a customer. The end figure can be quite an eye opener.

Of course, loyal, happy, well-looked after customers will also recommend you to their friends and extra business comes from them too. I have also found that potential customers or clients like to “test” you out by buying something small, before they commit to a larger, long term purchase.

So, just like your grandmother’s saying “Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves”, the same applies with your business.

Give the low spenders as much looking after as the big spenders, and they will reward you with a greater customer loyalty over the longer term.

If you’re unsure as to which customers you should be looking after, or need some more of the right kind of loyal customers, do call me on 01452 223306 to have a no obligation chat about one of my coaching or online programmes.

In the meantime, have a great week.
See you next week,
Dedicated to your success,

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