How to Attract and Keep Customers With Point-of-Sale Loyalty Programs

Ninety-one percent of small businesses do absolutely nothing to retain their existing clients, according to the book Harvard Business Review on Increasing Customer Loyalty. It’s shocking, but true. One easy way to keep people coming back for more is to start a customer loyalty or rewards program at the point of sale.

Customer loyalty programs not only encourage new and repeat business, but also can help you compete with the marketing strategies of major retailers and distinguish your enterprise from other small businesses. Here are four ways that offering rewards at the point of sale can help you attract and retain clientele, particularly if you are a QuickBooks Point of Sale user.

1. Tailor rewards to customer needs. A common mistake in building rewards programs is selecting the type of currency (points, rebates, discounts, cash back, etc.) you plan to use before you understand what your customers want, say the experts at CRM Trends. Before you launch a loyalty program, do your research. Send out an email survey, pose questions via social media, or ask visitors to your store for their opinions. Why do they buy from you — and from others? Do they think your prices are high or in line with the market? Would they respond to discounts or free merchandise? Use their feedback to determine how your loyalty program can give people what they can’t get elsewhere. Your research should also inform how you’ll market the tangible benefits of the program to customers.

2. Experiment with response. The perceived value of your rewards program will vary by customer: Some will appreciate any and all freebies; others will need a significant reward to be motivated. For example, in the model program available to retailers in QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013 Pro, you can experiment with rewards structure, awarding points or prizes to customers based on total dollars spent or on a percentage of the purchase amount. Using the Redemption History tab, you can see the rewards that customers have redeemed to gain insight into which thresholds “move” them. (Customers who frequently redeem $5 off coupons are obviously satisfied with that amount; those who don’t redeem coupons may require a more aggressive offer before they’ll be “sold” on the program.)

3. Start a conversation. You’re passionately motivated to build relationships with customers. But how do you make sure your enthusiasm trickles down through the company? The Prompt option in the QuickBooks POS 2013 Pro Rewards Center can help to remind your salespeople to tell customers the benefits of the rewards program, such as points or rewards earned, rewards that are nearing expiration, and how to accumulate more rewards in the future, all at the point of sale. There’s also the option to print customers’ rewards (point) balances on receipts. These reminders not only stimulate dialogue between your employees and customers, but also help to reinforce customers’ purchase decisions — and increase the likelihood that they’ll come back to redeem rewards.

4. Ensure that you aren’t losing money. A successful loyalty program doesn’t just benefit your customers; it benefits your business. Though you may occasionally lose money by offering cash back or discounts, your program should not come at a significant cost. The Rewards Program in QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013 Pro allows you to set parameters that ensure profitability, including expiration dates around earning and redemption (to avoid conflicts with other marketing programs), and automatically adjusts rewards earned if a customer returns merchandise or initiates a refund.

About Stephanie Taylor Christensen

Stephanie Taylor Christensen holds a master’s degree in marketing and has 13 years of marketing management experience for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She is a regular contributor to sites like ForbesWoman, Real Simple, Mint, Minyanville, and SheKnows, and writes for several private business clients. Her work is frequently syndicated and sourced by Yahoo! Finance, SFGate, TodayShow.com, and The New York Times. She is also a small business owner, having founded WellnessOnLess.com, and Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter @WellnessOnLess.
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