Think back on a time where you had really fantastic customer service. Now, think back on a time where you had a negative customer service experience; what do you notice? Most likely, when you thought about the positive experience, you felt happy; when you thought about the negative experience, you likely felt sad, embarrassed or angry. Every customer is an opportunity to sell not only your amazing products, but an experience. Today, I’d like to discuss some tips and tricks to help you do just that!
No one likes a pushy salesperson! Greet your customer genuinely, and wait a few moments. If you have a special on multiple purchases or a discount that you’re offering, let them know ahead of time. When you see that they are showing interest in a specific product, take a moment to share why you love it, or why your other customers love it. If they are not already holding the product, place one in their hand and let them see the quality for themselves. Then, suggest a product that would pair well with it. Listen intently to what they are saying and find out what their specific needs are. Most importantly, do not make claims that are not true; saying that your product will do something miraculous might win a customer up front, but they will likely not come back when the product ultimately does not perform.
Put your phone down.
Social media, texting, phone calls, games; we have the unique opportunity to have all of this technology right in the palm of our hands at all times, unlike the retailers of yesterday. But, also unlike our ancestral retailers, we have the unique opportunity to thoroughly ignore customers in order to get to the next level of Candy Crush. Use your phone as little as possible if you are at an event where you are selling your products; this will show customers that you are interested and present.
Don’t get offended.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my 15 years of providing customer service both in retail and hospitality environments is that you must not take anything personally. Everyone has had a bad day and snapped at someone; if this happens to you and it seems to come out of left field, try to empathize and provide the best service you can. You may also run into a situation where a customer simply does not like your product or understand your pricing. It is important not to become confrontational in these situations. If it is a pricing issue, take the time to explain why your products are priced the way that they are. Giving a patient, well thought out and kind response will make a bigger impact than a knee-jerk reaction to be aggressive and defensive. If they are unhappy with your product, be sure to stick to whatever return or refund policy you have in place; and if possible, offer an alternative for them to try.
If you are managing an online store, or if you have a storefront with a dedicated phone line, set aside a specific time each day that you will commit to answering messages. Between formulating, packaging, and selling, your time is precious; but ignoring an inquiry or complaint will lead to frustration on your customer’s behalf, and they may go elsewhere.
Take the high road.
We know that your products are fantastic, and you know that your products are fantastic. But, it is entirely possible for more than one fantastic product to co-exist!
Sometimes, customers may ask you what the difference is between your product and a competitor, or which one is “better”. Even if your competitor hasn’t behaved similarly, resist the urge to talk negatively about someone else’s products. Always steer the conversation back to your own by saying something to the effect of, “I can’t speak to the quality or ingredients used in Suzie Soap’s products, but this is what I offer.” Keep your comments neutral and clean; taking the high road will leave a lasting, positive impression on your customers.
Your current and potential consumers are some of the most important people that you will ever interact with. Each one presents an opportunity to educate about the importance of handcrafted products and the incredible entrepreneurs that produce them. When you provide an experience and not just a “stop-and-shop”, you are encouraging buyers to be loyal and in turn, they are supporting your dream.
Remember: “It is so much easier to be nice, to be respectful, to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to understand how you might help, than it is to try to mend a broken customer relationship.” –Mark Cuban