Your business can become a magnet for attracting great customers. Your ideal customers: the ones who are happy, who spend a lot of money with your company, who return over and over again... Who's your ideal customer and how do you attract them to your store?
To "roll out the red carpet" means "to give a grand welcome to an important guest", according to TheFreeDictionary's idioms reference. So how do you give your guest (customer) a very warm, special welcome? Whether you have a brick-and-mortar operation or a virtual presence, you can use these techniques to raise your level of customer service.
- Treat customers like royalty. Make them feel special. As far as each customer is concerned, he or she is your #1 focus. Each customer should feel special, important. Visualize a king or queen crown on your customers, and treat them like royalty. Have a grateful attitude towards each person. If you were a customer at your business, how would you feel about the way you're being treated? Measure your success by hiring a mystery shopper (or perhaps you can be the mystery shopper!).
- Begin at the top. Model superior customer service by your actions and your attitude. Pitch in and help out with customers periodically, answering the phone or assisting customers in person. Demonstrate how to speak to customers, and how to honor them. Your staff will learn more from observing you than from any procedure manual or training course.
- All staff must be vested in the success of customers. Don't you hate when you walk into a grocery store and the staff members are chatting with each other, socializing or discussing when to take their lunch breaks? It's easy to figure out which companies live by their service philosophies, and which don't. Require that your staff give each customer their 100% undivided attention. Show your staff how they benefit by discussing how customers pay their paychecks! And how satisfied, repeat customers can keep them employed.
- Think "customer benefit". Customers ask WIIFM (what's in it for me?), either verbally or subconsciously. Put yourself in their shoes; ask yourself what you would want if you were a customer at your business. Why would a customer shop with you? What do you have that they need? They want? Others don't have? If you can provide a visible, tangible benefit that customers can leave with, they will be happy.
- When things go wrong, apologize and fix it. Remember that emotions are stronger than facts. Roll-out-the-red-carpet means that your customer is always right, even when you think they're wrong. They are paying your bills! So instead of getting defensive, train your staff to be apologetic and say "I'm so sorry". Then the next question should be, "What can we do to make it right?" Allow your customer to tell you what they expect. And LISTEN. By responding to their needs and satisfying your customers, you'll win friends for life!
- Ask for feedback. How do you to gauge your success rate? Surveys and suggestion boxes are the best way to determine if customers are happy (or not). Take these opportunities to discover what customers need that you can offer. They may have ideas that you've never thought of, which you can easily use to improve your level of service.
- Give them reasons to come back. Provide incentives and bonuses to reward customer loyalty. Have a fun and exciting atmosphere that beckons them back over and over again. Encourage customers with rewards cards, special coupons, offers in the mail (or email), gifts with purchases and other exciting incentives. Surprise them, keep them wondering and coming back for more.
What do customers (including past and prospective) think about your store? What type of reputation are you known for in your community (either neighborhood or online)? Ask and find out.
Attracting and retaining the best customers is your main job. Your company exists for no other reason than to serve your customers. Realizing that your company stays profitable only by selling your product to customers, treat them like kings and queens.
What do you want to be known for? Earn your reputation for roll-out-the-red-carpet customer service. Go ahead...you deserve success!