How important are your customers to you?
At first, this might seem like a kind of offensive question. I mean, I know that as a small business owner if someone implied that maybe I don't care that much about my customers, I might get a little upset. But the truth is, so often small business owners drop the ball when it comes to customer care -- and don't even realize it.
Most business owners will say that they take great care of their customers. But when they say that, they're talking about someone with money, right there in front of them. They forget about the person who's "just looking around" or the person who's already made their purchase. You need to stop thinking about "customer" as a person at the counter ready to buy. "Customer" is anyone, anywhere, any time, having an interaction with your business or not -- and they need to be treated just as well as if they were standing there with cash to buy something.
Once you've identified that a customer is more than someone with their wallet open, the next step to differentiating your business as one that goes above and beyond to care for their customers is to find ways to show your appreciation before, during, and after a sale.
Before the Sale
If someone tells you that they're "just browsing" or "just shopping," that can be a sign that they don't want to be bothered. However, let them know that you're open to being bothered. Let them know that you're happy to have them in the store, and where you'll be if they have any questions. Make sure to train all of your employees in pre-sale customer care as well -- it doesn't matter how caring you are, if your employees don't pass it along.
During the Sale
Some of my best small business interactions that have won my unwavering loyalty were where instead of pushing me towards a sale, I was helped for free, or instead of up-selling me, the business owner pointed me to a better (but more affordable) product. Even if you don't think they're going to buy anything, if a customer interrupts you, make time for them.
For those in eCommerce, this can be a little more difficult. You're not having physical face-to-face interactions with the customer. However, how your copy is written on your website can go a long way. Make the customer feel valued for being on your site, not simply shuffled towards the shopping cart. Even something as simple as a "we're glad you're here" heading can do a world of good.
See Also: 3 Examples of Brands Crafting Memorable Experiences
After the Sale
After the sale can be a touch more difficult. After all, they're no longer there. Don't end the interaction when the wallet closes; you don't have to be afraid to stay in touch! Send notes of appreciation to your customers -- even if they haven't bought anything recently. Just thank them for their loyalty and patronage. By taking care of the customer every step of the way, you can show that when you look at them you don't just see dollar signs (or lack there of). You actually see a whole person -- that you actually care about. This will create an experience that they'll want to brag about!
Looking to find new ways to make your customers feel special? Send us a note, we'd be happy to brainstorm with you and discuss steps you can implement to close the loop and make your customers feel special beyond the sale.