5 Messages to Build Customer Loyalty: Lessons from a Grocery Store

building customer loyaltyWhat kind of messages are you sending your customers?

Are they the kind that show that you understand them? I mean, really get their problems and needs?

Because, whether you know it or not, you are communicating to them, showing them how you feel about them, all the time.

I stopped by a Top Food & Drug last week. I don’t usually shop there. I was on my way back from a meeting with a client and it was right off the freeway.

I needed a box of cereal and a jar of marinara sauce, so I thought, “I’ll stop by and see what’s going on.”

Actually, the real reason for my visit was something my client told me about the store that got the marketer in me curious.

“They’ve got a killer customer loyalty thing going on there,” she said.

Okay, most every freakin’ grocery store on the planet has a customer loyalty program: Reward Card, Club Card, Advantage Card.

It’s normal. Expected even.

But when I stopped by, I was impressed. No, amazed.

With their free TOP Connection membership, this store takes the customer experience to a whole new level. By how they treat you, the customer, they are sending strong messages about how much they value you:

1. We know most days you don’t really have time to shop.

Create your shopping list online, adding items from your shopping history, the weekly flyer, or a recipe. If you forget your list, just ask the folks at the guest service counter at the store to pull up your account and print you another one.

What they’re saying to you:

We value your time.

2. We know you appreciate the little unexpected extra’s.

Print your coupons out at the store if you forget yours at home. No dollar amount limits on returns. Live people on the phones in the call center. Thank-you incentives.

What they’re saying to you:

We appreciate your loyalty because we know there are so many other stores you could use.

3. We know it sucks when you buy something today and it goes on sale tomorrow.

If the items you purchase go on sale up to 7 days later, you get credited the difference plus 1% on your card—automatically. You can spend it on anything in the store—or save it for a future purchase. If you lose your card, the store will roll you over to a new account without losing any of your benefits and credits.

What they’re saying to you:

We want to save you as much money as possible.

4. We know that returning things can be a pain in the a*s.

When you buy an item and are unhappy with the quality, call the 1-800 number and your purchase will be immediately credited. No need to even bring the item in. And the credit can be used the very next time you are in the store.

What they’re saying to you:

We stand behind our products and know your time is valuable.

5. We understand that sometimes you forget what you bought last time.

You get online access to your purchase history and can save recipes, so you know the name of that excellent cheese you bought and the ingredients in the soufflé you want to make again.

What they’re saying to you:

We don’t just want to meet your current needs; we want to anticipate your FUTURE needs.

Now, I’ll admit. I’ve shopped at Top Food & Drugs a couple of times in the past and their prices seemed higher than other stores (though I can’t be sure of that).

But at what point does price become less important than how you are treated as a customer, how
much you are valued, how exceptional the products and services are?

What about you?

Are you willing to pay a little more for such exceptional service and value?

Are you building customer loyalty by sending these kinds of messages to your customers, not by your
words, but by what you

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  1. Judy Dunn January 26, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Okay, my good friend Tammy, who actually alerted me to the thing going on at Top Food & Drugs, left a comment and for some strange reason, it showed up under my Nike writing success post (the post previous to this one).
    She made some excellent points. To read it, just go to the post right below this one. Sorry, Tammy!



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