Photo By Ultimate Cabinet Components
Your customers are more than a paycheck. They’re an investment of your time and one of your business’s most valuable resources. Are you treating them accordingly and creating the best customer experience possible?
Prioritize your customer journey over products or profits, and you’ll turn loyal customers into raving fans for your business. Here are eight tips and tricks to help you create a better customer experience and build a customer-first mindset into your company’s process.
1. Make it all about them. As a business owner, it can often be tempting to talk up your company’s greatness to help close the sale. Instead, try focusing less on selling your product and more on answering your clients’ questions. When you work on building trust, you’ll silently reveal your talents and expertise while keeping your attention on their needs.
If you sell a product, think about the last time you made a major purchase in your life, and review your own buying journey. For each stage of buying, customers have different sets of questions, and you need to know what questions to expect and have all the answers ready.
To start, pretend to move along the buyer’s journey for your products. List out the questions you would have at each stage, and prepare answers for each.
A customer who purchases a new product usually starts in the awareness stage. They realize they have a need but are still defining that need through research.
Once they have defined their need, they move to the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. In the consideration stage, they have made up their minds that they are officially shopping for a product, and now they want to know the specifics.
Once the customer has researched the available solutions, they enter the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Questions in this stage will be geared toward the details of their purchase to pinpoint the best solution for them.
Once you have listed all possible questions a customer might have throughout their buyer’s journey, set up a system to send these answers to customers before they ever have to ask. You’ll naturally help them along their buyer’s journey and point them one step closer to a purchase.
2. Effectively communicate. Effective communication can make or break your sale—and your customer’s experience. Just like the first tip, always stay focused on your customer and their needs when you communicate.
Try to avoid communicating over text messages with your customers.
If you are asked about money or schedule via text, defer and send an email. Sure, it may be easier, but text is written in shorthand language that is just waiting to be misinterpreted.
LOL. Just don’t do it. Along with communicating well, you must communicate often. Every Monday, email every customer with an update or follow up on their project. Let them know where their job is in the pipeline, offer any additional details, and attach a picture if possible.
Don’t make it complicated. Create an email template that fires off when a product hits a particular milestone. Keep stock photos and videos of your standard processes.
Send them to customers as their project progresses to give them more insight into the process. As their project reaches its last steps, send photos to give them a sneak peek of their final product.
3. Go the extra mile. Taking the time to do something extra for your customers will always be appreciated—and remembered when a friend or family member asks for recommendations.
Show your customer that you really care by providing something extra specifically for them. For example, if they mention their love of movies, email them a $15 gift card to their nearest movie theater with a message, like “Since you can’t watch your project being built, why don’t you watch a movie on us!”
There are a thousand things you can do to go the extra mile without spending a dime. After a conversation, send a link to a relevant article to your customer, with a note with the reason that article reminded you of them. If your customer mentions their spouse, child, or another family member, make sure to ask about how they’re doing next time you speak. Sometimes, the smallest things make the biggest impact.
4. Be honest when stuff happens. When the inevitable happens and you run behind schedule or miss the mark on a job, don’t hide it.
Simply tell your customer the details without excuses. If you are late, then the customer wants to know why. The later you are, the more you should communicate. Remember, all you are doing is answering their questions. Stay ahead of them, and you can still have a raving fan in the end.
If you are late on a job, start by simply telling your customer that their job is important to you, and be exact in what caused the delay.
For example: “We are experiencing a few bottlenecks in our production currently.”
Next, assure them you will still fulfill your promises. “I assure you we are all hands on deck to clean up our mess, but under no circumstances will your product suffer in quality because of our challenge to manage time.”
A couple of days later, follow up with a real-time assessment of the project to keep them in the loop. Send an email that says, “Just got word that your job has moved to the next stage of production. Bottlenecks are still there, but we are making headway. More updates to come.”
These updates answer the one question on your customer’s mind when stuff happens – “When is my project going to be done?” Keep answering the question until you know the exact day you will deliver.
Before you implement these steps, commit to accomplishing them on an ongoing basis. Don’t give one customer the full experience and give a weak experience to the next. Consistency paired with sustainable, customer-first practices won’t just help create fans – it’ll improve your business from the foundation up.
Source: Jeff Finney is the owner, founder and CEO of Ultimate Cabinet Components and The Push Thru LLC. He shares his experience in articles on WoodworkingNetwork.com, podcasts and in a new book, "That’s it, I’m fired." Written for small to medium business owners, the book helps entrepreneurs transition from overworked employees to hands-off owners, and includes stories and lessons learned from Finney’s more than 15 years in the industry. For information call 918-371-7171, visit thepushthru.com or UltCab.com. Finney is a 2018 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 honoree.
Also listen to Finney’s podcasts with FDMC’s Will Sampson – “Business life balance” and “What do you value” – available on demand at WoodworkingNetwork.com/podcasts.
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