By David Brown
You have your view of your business and what you offer your customers. You may have established this over a long period of time and worked carefully to cultivate this image as a key part of your offering.
The question is does your customers see you the same way? Two decades ago you may have been left wondering but today it’s no mystery. What your customers think of you will already be easy to see – via the online world.
Have you Googled your business? What do you see? Unfortunately for many business owners the reading isn’t pretty. Review sites and forums provide customers with an easy opportunity to assess you and research shows that over 80% of potential customers will do online research before choosing to shop. Most will also believe the reviews they read.
Even if your impression is positive does it tie in with the message you want to get across? If you are trying to be an affordable shopping option and customers perceive you as up-market and expensive you have a problem.
Here are a few areas to focus your attention on if you are looking to make a good first impression with customers:
1. How do you answer the phone? A standard and consistent response shows your organization is professional. How many rings before your phone must be answered? Worse still many calls can often go unanswered. Customers don’t like having to wait. What about putting customers on hold…do you have a set of rules for this? Phone monitoring software products exist that can provide you with feedback on this important area of your business.
2. Customer Greeting. How are customers greeted when they enter your store? Does your staff smile? How long does a customer have to wait before they are greeted? It can be difficult to judge the fine line between leaving a customer unattended and jumping down their throats but a policy guideline and expectation will definitely help.
3. Business Cards. Does your staff have business cards? How do they look? Have they been updated for social media addresses and other online changes that may have happened in recent years?
4. Marketing. What does your marketing say about your business? Is your message consistent with how you want to represent yourself to the public? Do your product offerings, fonts and colors tie in with the image you see yourself as having?
5. Social Media. Your personal social media accounts and those of your staff will also speak for your business. Are these personal accounts professional? Is there anything posted on personal social media pages that you would be uncomfortable with customers seeing? Many business owners view the social media accounts of potential staff they may hire – your customers may be doing the same with you.
6. Dress Code. Does your staff have uniforms? Are they freshly presented? If not, what is the dress code for your store?
7. Storefront. How does your storefront look? Is the paintwork tired? What are the rules around cleaning and presentation of inventory?
8. Windows. How do your windows present? Do you rotate your inventory regularly? Are tickets tired and tatty?
How would you describe your business? Are you offering something that customers won’t get elsewhere and can you articulate it in less than 30 seconds? A genuine point of difference encompasses more than just “we give good service”. Good service should be a given. You must genuinely provide customers with something your competition won’t do.
Business guru Tom Peters tells a great story of four competing gas stations within a block. Three were quiet while the fourth was run off their feet. Despite all of them being ‘self-service’ the one that had all the business was offering a gas pumped for you service which customers loved.
It’s not what you say you do that matters, it’s the actions you take that speak volumes.
About David Brown
David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact firstname.lastname@example.org