Get Them Coming Back
It's true, it is much cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one. This is an old retail adage that has stood the test of time. CRM (customer relationship management) has never been easier with today's POS systems. You customer data is a gold mine waiting for you to strike.
Send Your Best Customers a Note of Thanks
First, get a list of your best customers. Rank them by number of tickets, not by dollar amount. Too many retailers think their "best" customers are the ones who spend the most money. The truth is the best ones are the ones who come in more often. Research shows, the more loyal (translated frequent) the customer is to your store the more likely they are to tell others and send business your way.
Second, prepare a note of thanks for each of them. While you could send them an email, a personal note (handwritten) will be powerful. We get very little handwritten mail these days. And when we do, it has a huge impact.
Third, resist the urge to incentivize the customer to come back - meaning put a coupon in the card. Just thank them. Tell them how much you appreciate them. If you do put an offer card in, make it big deal offer and not the kind you put in the newspaper or direct mail for all the other customers.
Keeping your best customers loyal is key. You may sometimes feel that loyalty is dead in retail: It seems with so much competition with online and other alternative retail outlets that consumers jump from place to place. The truth is they do. However, in a recent study by Forrester they found that two thirds of millennials still preferred to shop in a brick and mortar store. But, since the experience in those store was just like online, there was not real incentive to do so. Just imagine what a personal note would do.
Let Others Know How Much You Miss Them
Next, get a list of the customers who have stopped coming. Filter this to keep the one or two time people out. You are looking for customers who used to shop with you regularly, but seem to have stopped. Then follow the same process as above. Send them a personal note telling them you miss them. But in this version, you should include an incentive. Most likely, this customer left because of an issue with your store, so they need an incentive to give you another try.
Don't try to figure out why they left, just let them know you miss them. Appreciation goes a long way with people. And even if they do not return, they will talk about it. If you have a long list of customers to reach out to, divide the workload of writing the notes between all of your employees and have everyone sign at the bottom.