On Monday, I wrote about the importance of customer or client relations.
I explained my belief that each customer you can acquire has tremendous long term value and that most small businesses fail to understand and work to preserve this value.
Now, here are some customer relations tips I urge you to consider for your small business:
- Make good customer relations a priority in your business – think about it, brainstorm it, talk about it with your employees, work at it.
- Manage first impressions – first impressions are lasting impressions. America does judge a book by its cover. It’s very difficult to overcome a poorly managed first impression.
If telephone contact is the source of first impressions for many of your potential customers you should give very careful consideration to how the incoming calls are being handled in your stores or offices. Many businesses lose a tremendous amount of business by bungling this first telephone contact.
If the first impression happens by the prospective customer walking in the door you need to give thought to specific procedures for meeting and greeting that person.
If your business is a public retail business I believe you need to give a great deal of attention to the store environment. It’s interesting to observe businesses that have historically had lousy environments and had that accepted by everybody as just the way it is, now losing their markets to new competitors who concentrate on environment.
The service station, for example, has always been a dirty, grimy, greasy, unpleasant place. The waiting area for customers is usually a couple of battered dirty chairs in the corner, wedged under a shelf with a dirty vending machine and a stack of old tattered Hot Rod magazines.
Today the service station industry has lost control of the oil change business to new instant lube companies like Minute Lube. These new stores have a nice image, pleasant waiting area, a new progressive approach to environment. I believe that you can improve just about any open to the public business success by improving it’s environment and I urge you to consider the store environment’s impact on all five of the customer’s senses not just sight.
Just as important as environmental appearance is to first impressions is the personal appearance that a customer or prospect will deal with. I’ll be covering that subject in a post next week.