Want Your Customers’ Loyalty? Don’t Annoy Them!

There are only so many ways a person can say no, and yet some retailers like to see how many times and how many ways they can get their customers to say it again and again and again like it’s some sort of annoying game.

Take the following example related by The Retail Doctor, whose friend recently had the following experience at Victoria’s Secret:

“When I went to check out, the sales associate had this giant script of things she asked me…”

  • Did I want to sign up for a Victoria’s Secret credit card?
  • Did I want to join their e-mail list?
  • Did I want to sign up to be a part of their rewards program?

Even though The Retail Doctor’s friend vehemently answered “NO” to each of the questions above, the sales associate proceeded to tell her even more about their rewards program.

“It was all very annoying,” the customer said. “All I wanted to do was pay for my purchase and leave.”

Unfortunately, the Victoria’s Secret employee continued to ratchet up the friction by further antagonizing the customer. And the checkout stand is the last place you want to cause friction. As The Retail Doctor warns:

“No one wants to do anything more at the register than pay for their merchandise.”

He goes on to say, “The checkout counter should be the place where both you and your customer can relax and the job of selling has stopped. It’s the best time to harvest all the goodwill you created during your encounter; where you express thanks and invite them to return.

But if you haven’t bothered to do anything to engage your customers before checkout, peppering them with a bunch of questions about your loyalty program will smack of desperation.

While providing a friction-free checkout is rule #1 online, many retailers fail to deliver a frictionless checkout in brick and mortar stores. Here’s why they need to change that quick:

Checkout is the Last impression Your Store Makes on Paying Customers

Remember The Retail Doctor’s friend? Well, after being pelted with 20 questions about the Victoria’s Secret loyalty program at checkout, she decided to ask the employee if she was required to go over the same script with every customer. The associate confirmed that she was and would get in big trouble if she left anything out. She went on to say that 99.9% of people said “no” to every question.

You’d think that would be enough to let them know that they’re doing something wrong.

But no.

Part of the problem is that Victoria’s Secret isn’t paying much attention to what’s going on beyond the checkout process. In other words, they don’t know who their customers are anymore.

In fact, their sales for the most recent quarter dropped 7% and the risque images of their “angels” don’t align with the aspirations of women today who seek empowerment. The dark boudoir-like interiors of Victoria’s Secret stores that were a hit 10-20 years ago are no longer appealing to younger women who are looking to inner beauty and self-love more than seducing a guy. Even their once famous fashion show has plunged in ratings.

Simply put, the brand is out of sync with their customers and the further away they move from understanding their customers the more those former patrons will start shopping somewhere else.

According to Seth Godin, “When the people we serve present themselves, when they offer us their attention and their trust, we need to work to see two things:

  1. Who they are. What do they fear, what do they believe, what do they need?
  2. Who they can become. Which doors can we open, how can we support them, what will they leave behind?”

Use these points to improve your customer engagement and checkout process to increase loyalty. Remember:

“Every single interaction, the most minute details of the interaction you have with your customer, are an opportunity for you to create something remarkable.”

– Joey Coleman, Experience This! Host and CX Expert

Focus on sending your customers out the door with a, “Wow, that was an awesome experience!” attitude that will make them want to come back to your store again and again.

The Takeaway

Build trust from your greeting on, suggests The Retail Doctor. “The best place to sell loyalty benefits is in the fitting room or some other engagement point away from checkout,” he says. You don’t want to surprise and annoy your customer at checkout with  20 questions about signing up for your loyalty program.

Ask your customer just once, “Are you on our loyalty program?” If the customer responds with a “No”, a simple benefit statement like, “You can earn up to $150 off during the year. Would you like to learn more?” will suffice. If they answer “No” again, you’re done.

Bombarding people with questions at the checkout counter causes friction and comes off as a desperate attempt to acquire their personal information and hold on to them, which actually serves to push them away and damage your credibility. “You want volunteers for your loyalty program, not hostages,” The Retail Doctor reminds us.

“Trust is the cornerstone to all customer experiences,” says Forbes. Focusing on delivering an exceptional experience to each customer will, in turn, help create loyal, long-term relationships.

Find out how retailers like you are saving time and making money with the Rain POS system. POS, E-commerce, and Marketing all in one.

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.