We live in a world of convenience, where almost anything is available at the click of a button. We’ve gotten so used to this behavior, in fact, that we often forget that when it comes to things that require human interaction, like selling on a retail floor, there’s no button. This sounds discouraging until you realize that this presents a huge opportunity for retailers to understand, anticipate and delight customers just by paying attention to their needs.
While for some, price will always be King, for most shoppers, finding retailers they can trust, and revisit is incredibly important. According to a 2015 survey, trust in retailers was more important to respondents than price. Customers know what their time is worth, and time not wasted on bad experiences is worth the extra price. The experience, to them, is worth the investment.
Providing excellent customer experiences is easier than you think to implement. You don’t need gimmicks- you don’t need to put out cupcakes or do expensive giveaways. You just need to look at the retail experience from the position of the customer. Think about the last time you had a great retail experience. You probably remember something about the salesperson you dealt with- Now think about the last time you had a TERRIBLE experience. The deficits in the bad experience were probably down to a few things: Feeling like your needs weren’t being heard, salesperson indifference, or inexperience on the part of the salesperson. Most problems stem from these areas. Here’s how to make sure your company rises above the rest.
1. Anticipate your customer’s needs
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In all good relationships, observing the preferences of another person and proactively catering to those preferences is a powerful thing. Imagine while talking with your customer, you find out that he has a daughter who is turning 14. Make a note to call him when prom is coming up…make him a hero! Does a customer come in with their dog all the time? Write down the dog’s name and have a few treats or a toy for them the next time they visit.
There are already tools that help associates keep track of a customer’s purchase history and help them to follow up directly from their own mobile devices.
2. Keep track of your customer’s favorite things
Observation is key. Is your customer drawn to certain designers, shapes, cuts? Make note of them in the aforementioned tools. Have they ever come back in the store wearing an item they bought? Make note of it. Understanding the cues customers give you and acting on them- by suggesting items that fit their preferences shows you’re thoughtful and can solve their problems. The last time your customer was in the store, she mentioned her weakness for yellow accessories and you just got a pair of yellow boots. Drop her a note with a picture.
3. Notify your customer when something they’ve been eyeing goes on sale
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We have all been there- you’re shopping for something you like, but you’re on your way to dinner so you think you’ll pick it up later, and you eventually forget. Consider the power of proactively making note of customers’ “cart abandons-“ items they seemed to like but had to leave. He came in and tried on that leather jacket that just went on sale this month…and you still have his size. He’ll be surprised when you send him a note offering to put it aside. A sale at a lower price is still a sale and that thoughtfulness is another way to reinforce your relationship with that client
4. Give your customers a jump on the new releases
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You only need to look at the news when a new mobile phone is launched to understand the power of being the first to get something exclusive. Building your relationship with high value customers means delivering on perks. You know this is going to be the hot toy or a must-have coat for this holiday season, so let your best customers know and get a jump on it. Treat the experience like you would treat giving a “just-because” gift for your close friends. They will love you for it.
5. Remember their past purchases
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Hair stylists and bartenders who are great at their jobs excel at this. Understanding what your customers like and dislike is key to strengthening the relationship. Last season, your customer bought those white palazzo pants you recommended and the same brand has just released patterned crop tops that would go perfectly. Send her a message to let her know.
BONUS: Help them be a hero
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Not all purchases are made for one’s self. Listening to customers talk about people they purchase for, and asking follow up questions can help put you in a position for being a “gift fairy” of sorts for them. If you can help select the perfect gift for their loved ones, you can cement your position with them as being a go-to for gift advice because you solve an important problem for them. If they mention their husband is hard to buy for and needs a new coat, you can be the one who finds the perfect coat and proactively sends the info to them, saving the day for the husband’s birthday.
The keys to great customer care are the same as they keys to any good relationship: Listen, observe, and offer consideration and help when it’s most needed.