Earlier this month I decided to take the bus to the office due to the weather conditions since I was unable to drive. As I walked down the road at 7.30AM to catch the bus it felt good, as it had been a while since I last used public transport, and getting some good fresh air in the morning it really wakes you up. Best of all I had some time to think about the day and plan what I was going to do during the day.
After waiting for a while, the bus came and I jumped on, the driver looked at me took my money and carried on, without any impression. Instead he had a look on his face that would make anyone feel awkward (I know it was 7.30 in the morning) but when you are at work, which is customer related especially face to face, your image and impression go along way. I’m not having a go at the bus driver, he might have had a rough mooring, poor guy.
What I am coming to is customer experience and the first impression of your business. When you are running retail or a face-to-face customer related business, customers notice your overall appearance, and presentation, which stays in their mind for a good. So having a good first impact on your customer is vital. This is what will make them feel comfortable and most probably want to buy something from you. If your customer feels the warmth and find themselves that they can approach you, you have already won the battle, now you just need to convince the customer to buy your products or services.
So how to give a good first impression?
These days’ customers have very high expectations, and being in business you need to keep up with customer’s demands, and aim to please as many customers as possible. Now the first step to achieve a happy customer is by giving them the right impression and image of your business, you don't want your customer to think that you’re a cowboy, and a one trick pony, but instead you need to present a professional image of yourself and you’re business.
Appearance: Appearance is the first thing your customer see in you when they come to see you in your office, shop, or even when you go to see them. This first rule of impressing your customer is to dress and present your self professionally. Many of the times customers would come to us because of the way we’re dressed, they will take you more seriously when you talk, they will listen to you more as your appearance tells them that you are the person that they need to be dealing with.
Besides working on your overall appearance, your customers will also judge the appearance of your office, and your work place. Make sure it’s clean, tidy, and fresh, don’t let the appearance of your work place put your customer off or make you lose a sale. Make them feel welcome and comfortable so that you can do business with them.
Smile: A smile can do wonders for a customer and goes a long way, by having a smile on your face, not only will your customer feel comfortable, but you and your business, and character will also be approachable.
Listen to the customer: This can be difficult at times, and depending on the situation, as you might need to listen to a complaint or a customers experience in maybe using your product, what ever the case, having a good ear for your customers is always a plus point. The main reason to listen to customers especially complaints is that they are informing you of a problem that needs your attention in the business, and needs to get resolved ASAP. Many of the time you might have been unknown of such a problem, only when the customer has pointed this out, it has come to your attention. Customer feedback is always good, you have to listen and take action, as it brings the best out of your business, and gives you the opportunity to rectify things that are wrong.
Make them feel special: Majority of the times customers will return to you, because they feel you are offering a good valued product, and they are getting the best out of the value, this makes them feel special, to if they were to go elsewhere they may not get the same treatment or service. When dealing with customers make them feel as your going out of your way to meet their requirements, make them feel special, when a customer comes into your store, give them the 100% attention, so that they don’t feel you have ignored them or not given them the service they require, if they don’t feel special or catered for they will go to your competitors.
Free Gifts: Free gifts is always good way of impressing customers and attracting new customers. The gift doesn’t need to be something big or even costly. You could give away a free surprise gift with every order. Based on the order placed, you would give a gift accordingly. If the order was an impressively a big one, then it would be reasonable to offer a decent gift in comparison.
Working with your customers: Many of the times customers may come to you looking for something that they are unsure about, or they think that you have the answer to their solution. Rather then just directing your customers to the relevant place in your business, shop, website…etc, it would have a better impact if you work with your customer looking for the solution or service, talk to the customer asking more questions about what exactly are they after, and staying with them until they are satisfied. This way the customer will feel that you are being extremely helpful, and working with them to get a satisfactory result.
Admit to you mistakes: One of the more difficult things to do in business is sometimes surrendering and putting your hand up and saying “yes I made a mess up”. Most of the time in this situation, you customer may not be understanding as before, but by admitting to your mistake, and advising the customer that you will get this problem rectified, will surely put your customer at ease and make them feel better.
Respond to emails and Calls: One of my close friends who is also a friend with one of one of my customers asked for some feedback about my web solutions business. The response my client gave to my friend was that they were pleased that we respond to all emails and calls swiftly, even if its at odd hours of the night (I'm not saying we work 24/7), but the client here is stating that its important to have good communication with your customers, keeping them in the picture, and informing them of updates. It’s always best for you to email your client first before they email you asking for updates and questions. Staying on top of your emails and responding to them in a manner that your customers are satisfied can be an art of its own.
I recently came across this tool deferredsender.com which schedules your emails for you, so no more sending customers emails in the middle of the night, all I do is schedule my emails using this program, and it send the email at the time I have specified, which is normally working business hours.
Don’t fool your customers:I believe business is about honesty, and being honest with your customers and suppliers. If you try to fool them, it will always come back to haunt you. One way or another the customer somewhere down the line will finds out, and 9/10 times they will not come back to you. You might win a sale for that particular day, but in the long run, you’re actually pushing the customer away. It’s always best to inform the customer fully in what they are buying, and getting themselves into. This helps in building good relationship with your customers and also suppliers, and brings in good repeat business.
The little details counts:Many of the times you might think small minute details don’t actually matter, and you can miss them or take short cuts, but trust me they do. Customers look at every small thing, from packaging, postage, call handling, emails, you name it, and their eyes are on you. By taking that little bit of extra care and improving your services and giving every aspect of your business that little bit more extra time and care, your customers will defiantly appreciate it. You can ask them for a feedback and they will mention it in their feedback, as the extra care you took, would always show in your work, and the finished product.
This is how I attempt to make all my customers happy, and to bring a smile onto their faces. What do you do, share your thoughts and ideas below.