16 Ways to Amaze and Impress Your Retail Customers
It’s tough enough out there without doing everything you can to maximize each and every customer, and to get him or her to return again and again. Here are 16 ways to help you do just that. Don’t compromise on them, as they are each very effective. If you're not doing a great job of most of these, then you haven't begun to maximize your sales potential!
1. Emotion Has a Major Effect on Your Customers
Virtually all purchases are emotionally based. Appeal to emotions in everything you do with your store. People don’t always buy what they need, but they sure to go out of their way to buy what they want! Wanting is emotional. Why do we buy any car more expensive than a “Chevy” or a watch more expensive than a “Timex”? Each one does what it is designed to do; yet many of us must have Rolex or a Seiko or a Mercedes. The same can be said for the store environment. We buy things from stores that make us feel a certain way or satisfy a certain feeling or mood. We buy things that make us feel the way we want to feel about ourselves. You need to become the store that feels and creates emotions based on the way your customers want to feel. In any buying decision, wants and feelings will always trump thoughts, reasoning and even needs. What makes someone buy a fancy dessert or special expensive cut of meat with a welfare check? Is this need . . . or want?
2. Take Care of Unhappy Customers
If something is wrong with the merchandise or the service you’re providing, take immediate steps to correct the issue. Do not make them wait and wonder what you’ll do. Assure them they’ll be taken care of. Same thing goes if they’re not happy with their purchase for any reason. Worry about your principals when taking care of customers, not your policy. Following policy instead of principals when taking care of your customers can get you into trouble. When customer’s are confident that you’ll take care of them, they are much more likely to be confident about any and all future purchases. Trust is important in business of any kind.
3. Provide Value to Your Customers!
I’m not talking about giving great prices. I’m talking about making your store worth doing business with. If you are charging top dollar for your products or you getting at least as much as every retailer, what are you doing to make your store the place customer want to buy. It may be education, great service, a fun experience, or an atmosphere and experience that people want to be a part of.
4. Listen and React to Your True Niche Customer
Consider a survey. You need to know what your customers are thinking and why they come to your store. What do they like and not like. What would they like to see in product or services? It’s also important to know where they would go if you didn’t exist, and what they want to see that they’re not seeing. Don’t just settle for an answer. Find out the “whys” of everything they do and say, wherever you can. Once they have given feedback for you or your business, react when you can. They will feel appreciated and important.
Where possible, send your customers a birthday note or a note of appreciation.
And consider: are you married to a product line or niche that’s past its prime? Remember your products are in your store for the customer, not the manufacturer you’ve always done business with. Too many owners purchase inventory they find personally interesting or exciting and forget about what their customers want.
5. Know Your Unique Selling Proposition For Your Customer
In your customer’s eyes, what makes you different from all of the competition? What are you offering that no one else does? Every retailer has good customers, as well as customers you could do without. Spend your effort and your focus on the best customers that truly value your unique selling proposition. These are your true niche customers who like what you do and wish you’d do more of it. These are the ones you who are more likely to say, “Wow, the mother ship has landed,” when they walk and see something special you’ve done. Is your business in the entertainment business at its most fundamental? Are you in the service business? Or, are you in the “warm fuzzies” (appealing to a customers warm emotional feelings) such as Build-A-Bear? Build-aBear understands they are in the smiles business, not the stuffed bear business. Do some soul searching, and don’t worry about the customers who cherry-pick you on promotions or whom you can’t please very easily. These are most likely not your peeps.
Doing a common thing uncommonly well brings success.
Doing an uncommon thing in a relatively common manner can bring success as well!
6. Thank Customers for Their Purchase
No, I’m not talking about the quick, often insincere “thank you" that’s often rattled off as you hand the customer their receipt. With, for example, a thank you card or a phone call the next day, you can make your customers feel valued by expressing your sincere appreciation verbally. While you’re at it, ask them if they are happy with their purchase and if they have any suggestions for your business. This lets them know that you value their business and opinion. We all want to feel valued and appreciated. A personal phone call once in a while from the owner does just that.
Yes, it’s a pain in the neck, and yes you’ve got to get birth dates, but it works and it’s an inexpensive way to let customers know that you care! The more you’re in touch with your customers the more often you’ll see them.
7. Show Good Customers Special Recognition
You can do this by giving mentions and shout-outs to various customers by making them feel special in a newsletter, your blog or even Twitter. Everyone likes to see their name in print or to be recognized.
Which Would You Rather Buy From?
8. Work Hard to Better Accommodate Your Customers
For example, if a number of your customers can’t get to your store before it closes, stay open late a couple of nights, or open early one day a week. The bottom line is be open when your customers need you to be open. Be willing to adjust to their lifestyle by trying different ways you might accommodate them. If you’re a women’s accessories store and your customers are generally on the cutting edge of fashion, then your store had better be on the cutting edge of fashion. If your women’s a fashion store and a fair amount of husbands are dragged in by their wives, have a place for them to relax with some current things to read. I’m not talking about a folding chair and some old Cosmopolitan issues. The more comfortable you make the husbands, the more likely the wives are to stick around without pressure from their spouses. Also try to worry more about their preferences and tastes rather than your own. To do that, you need to know your customers well enough to know their preferences and tastes.
9. Treat Each Customer Like a Celebrity
What if Oprah Winfrey walked into your store? Would you give her your undivided attention? Would you take her around and point out things you want her to notice? Would you allow her to use her bathroom if she asked? Would you give her your most sincere thanks for her business? Even if you did all of these things, she may not even notice it. After all she probably gets treated special everywhere. However, if you treated everyone the same way, your customers would be spreading the word to everyone they knew! The biggest myth in customer service is the difference between what we think we provide vs. what we actually do.
10. Learn and Use Your Customers' Names (This Goes for Employees as Well)
Greet your customers by name, and if you can’t remember their name, make sure you let them know they’re regulars and you’re glad to see them. Make it a top priority for you and your people, and you'll find remembering customer names can be easier than you think. Remember the TV show, “Cheers”. “Where everyone knows your name.” Haven’t you ever walked into a restaurant and been greeted by name. It makes you feel valued and important!
11. Reward Your Good Customers
Even if you don’t want to get into complicated customer loyalty programs, you still need to reward valued and regular customers. Give some serious thought to rewarding those who have stuck by you and supported your business for years. I’ve been a regular patron of a couple of restaurants in my town on a weekly or biweekly basis for many years yet they’ve never offered me a free drink, dessert, dinner, or even a “thank you” for my long loyal business. While I love their food, I can guarantee you, I’d probably have a lot more to say about them if they had done a little something in appreciation of my business. As a retailer you could provide them a perk of some kind, such as a discount or free shipping for future purchases. Even if it’s a surprise discount at the register when they’re ready to pay, it will make them feel valued and it’s certainly a nice thank-you.
12. See Things Through Your Customer' Eyes
One of the most important things I do for the retailers I work with is to see their stores through the eyes of someone on the outside, or through the eyes of their customer. This is critical if you really want to set yourself apart the competition and become special to your customers. Look at your store as it really is. Ask yourself if this feels like your customers would want to experience. Put yourself into the mindset of your customer. What is their day like? What aggravates them or makes their day more difficult? What have they had “enough” of, through their week? What do they worry about? What do they really want to see and experience? What do they want? What would make them feel comfortable? What would help them save time? What appeal to their egos or what would appeal to their self-image?
As a specialty retailer, I’m sure you have a number of things that you would want customers to know about your merchandise and your shop, as they peruse through your store. My question is, are the most important things you want and need your customers to know being communicated effectively by your store, your people and its atmosphere? There are a ton of customers out there who are looking to satisfy some emotional need or feeling and they want to take that feeling home with them. Can your store make your customers feel the way you’d want to feel in order to be enticed to buy something right now?
13. Support Your Customers
Whether you want to be or not, you are part of a community. If your customers also own a business or they’re in sales, reciprocate and give them your business when you can.
14. Make The Customer the Beneficiary of Every Decision You Make
Everything thing you do and every decision in your store should be prefaced by the question, “Does this or will this benefit my customers in the end.” It doesn’t matter whether your efforts are aimed at scheduling, merchandising, marketing, cleaning, hiring, training, or signage. If it doesn’t ultimately benefit the customer, then you must ask yourself how important your effort really is when it comes to priority-setting. Once you decide to make the customer experience in your store the ultimate deciding factor behind how you and your staff prioritize your efforts, you have taken a major step towards making your store more relevant, more important, and more friendly to your customers. Your employees will be more in tune with the purpose and ultimate goal of your store and your customers will be another step closer to becoming loyal advocates of your store and brand.
15. Be Charitable
Donate a percentage of your sales to charity, offer merchandise or services for non-profit auctions or align your store in some way with helping a “local” charity. This is one of the things that separates your business from the big out-of-town e-tailers. Give back and make a difference, and let people see your business name involved in the community.
Becoming a good community citizen and giving back to your community should be considered a part of your store’s marketing efforts. When you make the effort to do this, you are helping the charity as well as getting the attention and familiarity of lots of other people who otherwise might not know about your business. Think about all of the other major businesses that have aligned themselves with charities throughout the years. They aren’t all doing it solely to be generous. The number of major newspapers and television stations that help promote charities through the year. Just be sure whomever you align your store with, they are well-respected causes.
16. Be Unique and Surpass Expectations
Make a commitment to surprise customers and exceed expectations in every way that your business touches your customer. Answer the phone immediately. Treat customers with undivided attention when possible. Figure out a way for your business to put a smile on your customer’s face. Learn customer preferences. Constantly be looking for ways to make your customers feel valued. Make up your mind that their visit to your store will be the highlight of their day! No matter what your budget is, you need to find something that will impress the heck out of them!
How many of these ideas do you currently make effective use of in your store and which do you need to implement now?
Aside from the articles I write here, this is what I do: I work to help small businesses get better at what they do.