Best Customers Aren't Just Anybody

Lois Geller

When my dad owned a jewelry manufacturing company in New York City, he hosted buyers in his majestic showroom. With its comfortable sofas and ottomans, plush rugs, indirect lighting with a few strategic spotlights, and sparkling showcases lined with velvet, it was a lot prettier than our own living room.

I once asked him why he had such a fancy workplace when we needed a new couch at home when I entertained friends.

He told me that, "You have to make your best customers feel special. When you stop doing that, they start buying elsewhere." I've since learned that the relationship actually regresses and when you see your former best customer again there is awkwardness.

Occasionally, this happens to companies that forget who their target audience really is and start looking around for a new kind of best customer.

I think that happened with Chico's last year some time.They used to sell clothes for women my age. I bought their lycra outfits in black and other colors that were easy to coordinate. I like them because they don't crease in my suitcase, and I can just throw them in the washing machine.

I'm pretty sure Chico's made a conscious decision to start going after a younger demographic by dangling linens and a Southwestern look. Unless you're starring on Broadway in "Annie Get Your Gun," who wants a Southwester look in New York City?

What happened? Beats me. I know they lost me, for sure, and I have a sneaking suspicion they also lost a lot of women like me who travel all the time.

So here's what I think Chico's and the rest of us should do: Find out and remember who our best customers are, treat them very well, and don't go off in some weird direction, hoping, maye, perhaps, cross-your-fingers, to find a few new customers while alienating already-great customers, especially power shoppers like me.

Lois Geller is founder and president of Lois Geller Marketing and author of Sold! Direct Marketing for the Real Estate.
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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