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Large corporations spend millions of dollars analyzing customers in a bid to understand what motivates them to buy their products. Typically, that analysis involves a third-party marketing company, one that that attempts to gauge, analyze and develop one or more reports extrapolated from that data.
However, when it comes down to it, your customers really are not interested in providing detailed information as part of a marketing analysis. Instead, if you are really interested in what your customers were thinking, you’d find out directly what they are thinking about your business.
1. Be honest. Your customers do not expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be truthful. If you cannot deliver or make good on something, then say so.
2. Say thank you. The difference between so-so customer service and stellar service may be two words: thank you. You can be doing all the right things, but if your staff is not thanking your customers, then your rating plummets despite serving up otherwise superior service.
3. Look me in the eye. You want to frustrate your customers? Then never look them in the eye. Eye contact demonstrates two things: that you are listening and that you care.
4. Make phone calls secondary. When customers are on line and getting ready to make payment, there may be nothing worse than a cashier that stops what he is doing to respond to a phone call from a customer outside of the store. Customers ready to buy should take priority over those calling in from outside.
5. Give me value. WalMart may have the low prices, but that’s what you get when you do not offer service. Certainly, some customers will look around and move on when a product can be found cheaper elsewhere. Your core customers are not as price sensitive and will pay more if you provide the service.
6. Mistakes do happen. Your customers not only do not expect perfection, they but will overlook mistakes provided that you do not take them for granted. Loyal customers can be tremendously forgiving, but it is a two-way street: expect to overrule some ridiculous store policy from time to time if asked to do so.
7. Give me attention. Besides maintaining eye contact, saying thank you and displaying general courtesy, customers appreciate it when you wait on them and go out of your way to find a product for them. It isn’t always a matter of having what a customer needs, but making an effort to find that product says much about what you’re thinking about them.
8. Don’t get too close. Your customers may appreciate your helpfulness, but there is an invisible line you should never cross. That includes asking customers for their home phone number or email address, or getting too close in a relationship that is business only. Some people may not mind getting a generic birthday greeting in the mail while for others the date is simply a reminder that they are now one year older.
9. Help me, help me. You may think customers know what they want, but there are times they know little about their wants and needs. Listen to what is being said, but pay closer attention to the unspoken. You may be able to articulate clearly, but your customers may need guidance on knowing what to buy, for whom and why.
10. Give me hope. Some customers seem impossible to figure out. Guess what? You really are not a mind reader. Sometimes all a customer wants is for you to demonstrate compassion, by giving them hope or some other intangible feeling. You’re not a therapist or a confidant, but you are the person serving that customer at the moment. Make sure that you never forget that.
There are many other ways you can attempt to figure out your customers, but the key to gaining their trust and winning their business is attentiveness. Make every customer feel special and you’ll provide the place that they will want to return again and again.
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