Service with a smile

The latest Food For Thought workshop was run in conjunction with Food Drink Devon in March and looked at ideas for attracting and retaining customers in both retail and hospitality businesses.

The challenge for both retailers and cafes and restaurants is very similar; you still can’t eat lunch online, but increasingly customers’ expectations have altered dramatically due to the advance of Amazon, Ocado and numerous order online delivery services.

Barbara King faces that change everyday at The Shops at Dartington and generously shared her experiences with a thought provoking presentation focusing on how to stand out from the online crowd and retain a loyal customer base.

Customers no longer go to “bricks and mortar” shops purely for supplies; they want to enjoy spending their money and feel content about parting with it. Shoppers will always appreciate good value, but also our increasingly aware customers want to know the provenance and local/ ethical credentials of the goods they buy.

By explaining to customers why you have chosen particular products in the range you show that you are carefully curating the massive selection of options currently on offer so that they don’t have to look any further. This is easy to do with some simple signposting and labelling, and often producers supply their own material.

Creating a welcoming environment for customers is absolutely crucial to making them feel at home. We are all aware of the “have a nice day” style of customer focus, but independent retailers and eateries have an opportunity to use the initial greeting, maybe even just a smile and a hello, to show that they offer a unique service and genuinely care about their customers.

Finally, why not make it easy for customers to find a reason to visit again; give them a loyalty offer (free coffee on your 6th visit?) or tell them about future events (a postcard with an invitation to a launch event?) and stay in touch via a newsletter, relating new developments and other news.

Ultimately happy customers are returning customers, and happy customers will spread the word about you do to their contacts, all of which does the marketing hard work for you!

There will be more blogs summarising the topics discussed in March over the coming weeks and if you would like to find out about the next workshop, planned for autumn 2019, please leave a comment to let me know.

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