How To Get Customers Onto Your Loyalty Program? Don’t Do It Like Victoria’s Secret Does
By Bob Phibbs
A friend of mine went to Victoria's Secret recently and shared this story.
“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? No.
But she told me more about the card anyway. Still no.
Did I want to join their e-mail list? Hell no.
Did I want to sign up to be a part of their rewards program? Definitely No.
And yet she told me even more about the rewards program. Still no.
It was all very annoying.
All I wanted to do was pay for my purchase and leave.
I asked the associate if she was required to say all of what she had said to me to every customer, and she answered yes. She said she’d get in big trouble if she left anything out.
She also said that 99.9% of people said no to every question.
My friend continued, “I assume bombarding the customer with questions trying to get them to sign up for stuff like a rewards program is not the best idea. But what do you think?”
So this is the Retail Doctor’s take on the checkout process at any retail store….
If you haven’t built trust with your shopper first, asking them a bunch of forced questions at the end of a sale won’t add anything to the sale… or make them loyal. It may even lose them.
Are you listening to me marketers?
No one wants to do anything more at the register than pay for their merchandise.
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.
Of course, if you haven’t done anything to engage this customer - really a stranger - since you haven’t built rapport, then bombarding them with a bunch of questions comes off as desperation.
We’ve all had this experience at electronics and appliance stores too when the salesperson is trying to sell us an extended warranty.
Not interfering with checkout is rule one online but seems to be falling away in more and more brick and mortar stores.
There is an old saying, He won’t take no for an answer. And while that makes for legions of bad selling techniques, to a customer it is just rude.
What happens at the counter is the last impression your store makes with someone who paid you money.
It’s critical to get that right.
But let’s face it, a lot of retailers are desperate to try to do something and Victoria’s Secret, in particular, is in a world of hurt...and that goes beyond their checkout counter process.
Their sales for the most recent quarter dropped 7% - even worse than JC Penney. Their soft porn angels just aren’t in line with women of today who seek empowerment.
The VS models are so over-the-top that women of all sizes are bound to draw comparisons because no woman can hope to look that way.
The Victoria’s Secret dark boudoir stores and overt sexuality that were a hit in the 80’s just don’t seem to be resonating with younger women who look to inner beauty and self-love more than to titillating a guy.
Even guys, it appears, aren’t tuning into the fashion show as the show’s ratings plunged to historic lows last December.
Not to put too fine a point on it but W Magazine said that more people tuned into the 648th episode of the Simpson’s than watched Victoria’s Secret’s fashion show.
What’s needed is nothing short of a brand makeover.
The problem is, the more a brand is out-of-step with their customer, the more that former customer will be shopping somewhere else.
Which brings me back to the checkout process.
The last thing you want to do with any customer is annoy them – especially at the end.
And if I’ve gotten one person telling me about the experience, just imagine how many women are telling their friends about the desperate and obnoxious behavior at the checkout.
How to get customers on to your loyalty program? If you’ve built trust from your greeting on, you can use that trust and ask once, “Are you on our loyalty program?” If the customer answers No, a simple benefit statement, “You can earn up to $100 off during the year. Would you like to learn more?” Yes or No and you’re done.
The best place to sell loyalty benefits is in the fitting room or some other engagement point away from check out. You want to pepper your presentation with some of the loyalty program benefits so it doesn't come as a complete surprise at the end so the customer asks you about it.
When you bombard people with questions at the checkout counter, it is all about you getting their private information, not about the customer.
That’s usually a sign you’re desperately trying to hold on to them.
But instead it leads to you losing more employees, more customers, and your credibility.
You want volunteers for your loyalty program, not hostages.
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