One simple thing that can
boost your sales by 10%
Train yourself and your staff to stand out in the mind of the consumer
Most people have a routine every day. We get up, we go to work, we eat, we sleep… The same holds true with our consumer experiences. We get into a routine. How we utilize services, how we shop and even our dining experiences become ordinary. We enter a business, we make our selections of products or services, we pay and then we leave. Because of the mundane sequence I just described, our businesses aren't memorable. If our businesses aren't memorable, people don't engage in that extremely important "word of mouth" advertising, and our businesses are simply "the same" as every other business in the community.
What if it didn't have to be that way? What if I told you that you could do some simple things that were unique to your business type that would generate more loyalty from your customers AND spread positive word-of-mouth advertising for your business? It all starts with breaking the routine.
The following won't work for every customer, but if you and your employees make the commitment to give just one customer per day per employee an "exceptional" experience (as an exception to their normal routine), your business will be more memorable to the consuming public. Let's cite some scenarios:
Scenario 1 (the insider)- Consumers can see what is on your shelf. They see what is in your store window, but most retailers know that they are working (and ordering) seasons ahead. What if you spotted a customer and said "if you have a second, do you want to see what's coming out next week (or month, or season…)?" Do you think that little extra would make a customer feel special? Do you think they may talk about the cool things that are coming out in your store to others? Do you think they will be back to purchase the items they previewed?
Scenario 2 (top of mind)- Advertisers often talk about creating "top of mind awareness" in consumers by permeating media with a compelling message. Youalso need to let customers know that they are on your mind (and that you care). If your accountant dropped you a message and said "I think we found a way to save you some money; can we set up an appointment?", you might think "wow, they are thinking of ways they can help me… this is someone I would recommend!" We have local retailers that know when my anniversary, my wife's birthday and other significant holidays in my life are. They reach out and say "we've got some things we think Erin will like". Where do you think I shop? Whether its by phone, social media, note or e-mail, letting your customers know that you are thinking about them encourages customers to think more about you.
Scenario 3 (the information broker)- One of the great attributes of small businesses is that you are generally more connected to the community. Training your staff about "what's going on" can turn your business into something more than your products or services. A simple "so, what are you up to today?" can lead to suggestions about other events or sales within the area. Giving a "heads up" is free, but your customers will thank you for the extra attention.
Scenario 4 (the focus group)- Most retail businesses get samples. Many service businesses want to "test drive" new service concepts. Restaurants want to gain customer feedback on new products. What if you could turn those resources into exceptional customer experiences? Send a sample home with a customer with the understanding that they review the product on-line (and tag your business). Ask a customer if they would be willing to test drive a new service and review it for you. Take new recipe samples to a table and ask customers if they would be willing to try the items and give you some feedback. This extraordinary experience lets consumers know you care about what they think, and the new products/services are generally shared with friends.
Scenario 5 (the artisan)- Most businesses do highly complex work that the public has little to know understanding of. By inviting consumers to experience what you do, you can build loyalty. Baristas can invite customers behind the counter as they create "foam art" in front of the client. Engravers can pull people into the back room to watch the creation of new products. Supply based stores can give people a facility tour. Once people have a "behind the scenes" look at what you do, they gain an appreciation for the quality of your products.
Scenario 6 (the dignitary)- Kids are generally an after thought for parents as they go shopping. All business types understand that the mood of a child can determine where parents shop (and for how long). Simple things, like letting kids help "ring out" items, letting them "help" with gift wrapping, giving them a gift or simply treating them like they are a "big deal" can be such an out of the ordinary experience that kids will request your business by name (and parents will generally oblige). For adults, small business owners should mingle and introduce themselves as the owner. When customers "know the owner", it makes them feel like they have obtained service beyond what they received at many chains. Emphasize your competitive advantages by doing what others can't.
For more ideas on ways to engage your customer base, try the New American Express Open Channel on YouTube, including the ATTACHED VIDEO.
Notice that the above suggestions were all either free or at very low cost. I know that providing "great customer service" gets so overused in business that it tends to lose meaning, but the above scenarios can give you the opportunity to create real customer service opportunities. Think about each of the six scenarios listed above. How will you create exceptional experiences? How will you train your staff to provide opportunities to your customers?