Friday, October 3, 2014

Engaging customers

     Free daily tips, info, advice, ideas, with business examples
     drawn from personal experiences starting, operating, and growing. 

     Customers who come to your retail place of business can be a gold mine. But only if you show them that yours is the best place to spend their time and money.

     Today, customers can buy by pressing the "Place Order" key. They can do it on the run. Coming to visit your bricks-and-mortar shop can be an inconvenience--so it's up to you to make it worth their while. And bring them back again. 

     Being offered tea and biscotti is the least customers expect these days. They want information. They want to be entertained. They want answers. It's all about them.

     Being totally focused on making the sale in front of you is risky. You lose the opportunity to learn what else the customer is interested in. And you might be risking losing the customer entirely, along with all their "likes" on Facebook.

     Taking an interest in your customer helps establish and enhance the relationship. Dig deeper in conversations, expanding beyond the subject at hand. It will pay off in the future. 

     Example: A hand painted silk scarf catches the eye of a browsing customer in your shop. She asks about it, and you describe the artist who does the painting. You show how the colors can be arranged in puffs and folds so that the scarf is very versatile--it can enhance any number of different outfits. The customers buys not only the scarf, but she orders two suits as well.

     This example, simple and certainly not original, can be used in other businesses.

     Example: A customer likes a recliner at a furniture store. It's common to engage the customer in a conversation about a matching sofa. But a conversation that leads into room layouts and design can open new possibilities. Put computer layouts to work. It elevates the relationship to a new level, and that can bring an otherwise one-time shopper back and back again. 

     Expanding the conversation  can work in service types of businesses as well as retail.

     Example: An accountant sees clients only at tax time. Take it to the next level. Invite several of them to attend a special session where you'll educate them on the latest tax rules and regs. You'll answer all their questions, serve coffee, and demonstrate new software for handling accounts. You become the go-to place for expert information, and your clients refer others to you. 

     Turn customer contacts into fun experiences, educational sessions, and a go-to place for information. The idea is to position your operation at the forefront of your customer's mind. Engage your customers and they will come back again and again, bringing others with them. 

     Other ways to enhance and grow your customer base are scattered throughout these write-ups. Put your creativity to work and come up with additional ways to engage the customer.    

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