February 27, 2011

Make It Easy for Your Customers – Appreciation Marketing at Its Best

We all appreciate our customers, right?  We show our appreciation by thanking them for their business, thanking them for referrals, supporting their special events, and engaging them as networking partners.  Good for you, but should you do more?

How easy do we make it for customers to do business with us, to buy our products or services?  Do we keep consistent hours of operations; do we provide the purchased product or service in a timely manner?  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Perhaps not; perhaps we need to take a new look at our businesses and how we relate to our customers.

Is your parking lot crowded; do your employees take all the close parking spaces; is there an adequate supply of handicapped spaces?  Can customers easily load their purchases into their vehicles in your parking spaces; is there any assistance for customers to load their purchases?  Can they easily navigate your parking lot?

When your customers enter your facility, do your employees greet the customers in a friendly, helpful manner or do they ignore them completely?  Do your employees only work in certain areas of your facility, or do they help customers in any area with any selection?  There is no savings in a customer searching out an employee only to be told that the customer needs to find someone else who works in a different specific product area.

Furthermore, is there music playing in your facility and how loud is it?  If a normal level of conversation is impossible, you should bring down the volume to less than ear-shattering.  Is there adequate heat in the colder months in your facility or air conditioning in the warmer times?  Just having some air circulation might be enough for your customers.  Jodie Blackwood, the business etiquette and customer service specialist, points out that business environments should be comfortable for the customer, not the employees.

Every business owner should take a look at their business from the outside.  What do customers see when they approach your facility; is the entrance attractive or even clean, is the parking adequate for all customers?  Does your entrance “welcome” customers into your business?  If you do not care about your business image, maybe you do not care about your customers.

Once your customer makes their selection, do you make it easy for them to pay for their purchase and leave?  Do you accept only cash, or do you accept credit cards or checks?  Do you help customers take their purchase to their vehicle if they so need or do your deliver and/or install their purchase?  If you deliver and/or install, do you make the process timely and convenient for the customer?

Every person who enters your facility should be happy to return, even if they do not make a selection during their visit.  If they believe that their visit was welcome, comfortable, and had value for you, the owner, they will believe that you appreciate their business.  As a result, they should return if they have a need for what you provide.  If they do not have a need, will they recommend you to someone else?  Do they know that you care?

Customers must be appreciated when they visit your facility; otherwise they will not return.  In addition, they may not recommend you to others, and they may even tell others to stay away from your business.  Don’t make it difficult for someone to do business with you; don’t make customers have to “work” to buy from you.

You are all my blog “customers”, and I appreciate all of you.  Please leave a comment if you wish, or I also welcome your calls at 360-314-8691 and your emails at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  Please let me hear from you so we can build a networking relationship and help each other.

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