Great customer experiences are easy. This is my mantra. But there isn’t one big answer for how to deliver these great experiences. It’s a mix of many little steps over time. Building loyal customers takes time. But if you consistently try these three steps, you will see your visitors turn into regular customers and your regulars turn into raving fans. But first, we need to get one things out of the way, one thing you need to never do.
Don’t insult your customers
You’re probably saying, I would never insult my customers! But I was talking with my girlfriends today and we all had an experience where we felt insulted by the sales person or service provider we were working with. I imagine you’ve had a similar experience, too. You spent weeks researching a product, reading all the reviews and pouring through Pinterest inspirations. You go to the store to finally make your purchase and the sales representative tells you what you’ve picked out is actually not a good choice. What?! But all my research tells me it’s exactly what I need!
First, if it’s not a good choice, why are you selling it? (But that’s a whole different blog post). And two, don’t insult the customer’s choice. I think, honestly, that the response is layered with good intentions. You want what is best for the customer. But the approach is key. Instead of telling your customer not to follow through on their selection, this is your opportunity to ask questions. What is the customer hoping to accomplish? What are the parameters of their purchase (size, price, material, etc.)? Maybe there are additional recommendations you can make that would also suite their needs. But present this in a way that positively acknowledges their opinion and personal choice. If you’re going to build relationships with your customers, you have to come from a place of support.
It’s all in the art of small talk
The places I feel the most welcome and comfortable are those where they know me and my needs. I love when I visit the local wine shop and they greet me with a “nice to see you again.” My dog, Quincy, knows the gift shop we both love because he always gets a treat. Love my dog and you’ve got me for life, too!
I’ve built relationships with these stores. And you need to do the same with your customers. Building relationships is rooted in the art of small talk. Through the short moments of interaction with a customer or client you can build a relationship with them and make them feel welcome. And when a customer feels welcome once, they will come back again.
Ask Their Opinion
Nearly every Thursday night I go for a run with a group of friends. After our run we visit a local pizza shop. They reserve tables for us and we hang out, ruining all the good work we did on the run. But it’s well worth it for the company, the food, and drinks. Every once in awhile the pizza shop is looking to bring in new beers. As a frequent group of customers, we always get to sample the options and share our opinions. Typically whatever we prefer is what goes on the tap next. We love being able to share our opinion and even more so, we love that our opinion matters to the owners.
Talk to your customers and get their opinions. Show them samples of products or ask what time they prefer a class to be held. These days you can do a lot of this online and reach a much wider audience. Your customers come to you because you meet a need they have. Tap into those needs as you look to offer new products or services. This is getting your customer involved in crafting the experience they are looking for. And how cool is it to walk by a store window and see something you selected?
Keep it fresh & clean
Remember that time you made a new friend and when they finally invited you over to their house to visit you were really excited. But then you went to use the bathroom... and oh man! You stopped in your tracks. How can this amazing, friendly, fun person have such a dirty bathroom? Their exterior personality and appearance just did not match with the neglected bathroom.
Your business is kinda the same. The spaces your customers are in every day need to be just as clean and polished as the spaces behind the scenes. Whether it’s dusting shelves, sweeping out dressing rooms, or cleaning the bathroom, have a regular routine for cleaning every where. Even if a customer is never going to see it, it represents your brand. You go into those spaces, your employees go into those spaces. And if their cleanliness and vibe don’t match what you want to portray to your customers, you aren’t really in alignment. Not sure where to start? Download this checklist for the six daily steps you can take to ensure a quality (fresh and clean!) experience for your customers.
We want to provide every customer with an amazing experience every time. With the right tools this can be really easy. If you scrolled to the bottom and just want the bullet points, here ya go (then go back and read the whole blog, it’ll be worth it, I promise)
Don’t insult your customers, identify their needs instead
Refine the art of small talk to build relationships
Ask for their opinion (they have one and they want to share it!)
Keep all your spaces, front and back of house, clean and welcoming
Do each of these and you will be well on your way to delivering exceptional customer experiences every time!