“A happy customer tells their friend, an unhappy customer tells the world”
One of the major challenges Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are faced with is their inability to keep customers coming after the first purchase. Repeat sales from the same set of customers over time have been observed to be an underlying factor entrenched around loyalty. However customer loyalty is not developed if SMEs cannot get the customers to keep coming.
The reason why it is important to have strategies for both customer acquisition and retention is that it takes as much as 3x efforts, time and resources to acquire a new customer than to retain them. Therefore ability to manage an already existing customer helps a business to build loyalty and profitability eventually.
There are several examples to draw from how different businesses have used customer experience to boost customer retention.
A major shift in consumer’s purchasing behaviour can be seen in the emergence of superstores across Africa. There have always been supermarkets within neighbourhoods where residents make regular purchases, however their inability to create a unique experience for buyers has caused customers to visit these superstores that can create the experiences they desire.
As customers emerge, their needs begin to shift from just satisfaction of these needs to getting an experience that helps them create memories whenever they go shopping and with this evolution brings businesses to begin to think about how to capture these experiences in their offerings
Some variables that has seen the surge of customers to superstores from already existing supermarkets include
Ambience could be in the form of a serene environment with greenery or a properly lighted space where customers with their families can sit, have informal discussions and relish the memories and experiences that comes with being able to enjoy their shopping experience. An environment that creates a background for good pictures puts the shoppers in a position of wanting to experiment with different scenery. These range of experiences is a major factor that would keep customers loyal to a brand.
Superstores have also learnt the ability to engage their supply chain to get competitive pricing for the bulk purchases made in order for retailers to benefit from obtaining goods at what they consider reasonable and affordable.
Music playing in the background from loud speakers across the building of these superstores helps to also create some refreshing moments in the minds of the shoppers, which makes them loosen up as they enjoy the home made artistry of popular performing artiste and musicians.
Shopping in an environment that considers hygiene a priority is one that customers consider unique in terms of experience especially as the covid-19 pandemic is yet to be completely wiped out. Seeing the janitors continuously working around the environment to ensure there is cleanliness makes shoppers become confident not just in the offerings but in the conveniences.
A superstore expects to get a lot of customers and there becomes a new challenge to create ease while they shop. Ease could come in the form of creating parking lots to not just accommodate their vehicles but to also guarantee the security of their assets.
Africa is a unique market and for a superstore to thrive, an understanding of the driving factors needs to be considered in order to create unique offerings.
No matter how big or small a store is, it will never grow beyond its ability to create a unique experience for its customers.
Emmanuel Otori, the writer has worked on the GEM Project of the World Bank Bank, Conducted training for entrepreneurs and professionals at the Abuja Enterprise Agency and has over 8 years of experience of working with over 50 SMEs across Nigeria.