I visit a lot of small towns. Some of our businesses have gotten lackadaisical and think locals should shop with them, just because they are a store in their town. That is not true. Small town businesses must make their customers feel important and welcome.
“What causes someone to not be loyal to a business is when we feel unimportant in some way due to that business,” said Chris Brogan
How do you make your customers feel important?
1. Keep a clean store.
No one wants to shop in a junky environment where you can’t get around to look at the items. It also must be CLEAN. Sweep and mop the floors, dust the fixtures, be proud of your location. Don’t forget the sidewalk in front and your front windows. Sweep and clean on a regular basis. And don’t smoke in the store. People will notice and not come back.
2. Change your windows every couple of weeks.
Spark people’s interest and give them a reason to walk in the door. It’s the one piece of free advertising you can use! This shows you care about what your customers want by providing them information (visual) without them having to ask for it. You can be creative here and ask a student to give it a try. Or put in work by local artists. Then share the news that your front windows were done by xxx.
3. Greet each person who walks through the door.
Don’t just holler out “I’ll be right with you.” Be kind, say hello. Come around from behind the desk and offer assistance. That desk/counter is a block and you don’t need to hide behind it. The old and tired ‘how can I help you’ will almost always guarantee the answer ‘I’m just looking.” Why not compliment them on something? A nice hat, cool shoes, fun handbag – just a simple ‘oh I like those shoes” can be a conversation starter. It gives your customer an opportunity to feel welcome and able to ask you questions about what you want.
4. Get off the phone.
Pay attention to the customer in the room, not your sister on the phone. If it’s another customer on the phone you can simply say “Just a minute please” and then at least acknowledge the customer in the room. Remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. And please, no personal cell phone calls while you are working. Use that cell phone to look up information for your customer, or to share an idea with them about how they can use your product in their home.
5. Solve a problem.
Perhaps your customer is looking for a particular item you don’t carry. Either offer to get it for them, or find another store in town that carries it. Pick up the phone and call that store and ask them if they have it in stock and tell them you are sending a customer to them.
It’s still all about me – the customer.
I’ll be loyal if you show me why I should be. Make me feel important, that you really care about me. Provide the world’s best customer service, consistently. And I’ll shop with you and even better, I’ll send others to shop with you too.