7 Steps to Stop a Customer From Buying Nothing

Recently I was in Covent Garden and I decided to pop into French Connection while I was there.  I am very glad that I did so as I received star quality service from one particular staff member.  I had seen a navy blue silky top in the sale in another store and wanted to see if they had it in my size.

  1. Welcome the customer when they arrive

As soon as I arrived in the ladies’ department, the staff member took the opportunity to smile at me and say, “Hello.”  I immediately felt important.

  1. Offer assistance

Once I had browsed for a minute, the staff member approached me casually and advised me that she was available to assist if I needed any help with sizes.  She did this in a very polite way that was not intrusive.

  1. Stop the customer on their way out of the store

Once I had browsed the store I realised that they did not have the navy blue silk top that I was looking for.  I made my way out of the store.  Just as I was leaving, the staff member asked me if I had been looking for anything in particular.

  1. Know your stock

I told the staff member about the navy blue top.  She knew exactly what top I was talking about and she led me to where she thought it would be.  She said that she thought they had three of them left.  She clearly knew her stock!

  1. Think of alternative solutions to the customer’s need

When the staff member found that the top was not on display, she checked my size and then went to see if it was in the stock room.  When she couldn’t find it there, she listed three nearby stores that I could try.

  1. Work as a team

When I told the staff member that I had already checked those stores, she asked her colleague to double check whether they had the top.  Her colleague suggested one other place that she could check.  The staff member was still unable to find the top.

  1. Offer something similar to what the customer originally requested

The staff member then suggested a similar top that I might like instead.  I said that I was not keen on the alternative.

I left the store without making a purchase.  However I was very impressed by the staff member’s dedication to her work and she made a big effort to find a solution for me.  She did all of the above without any prompting from me and without any signs of being put out.

Today’s the big day!!!

screenshot of text from Virgin MediaIf you had arranged to go and visit a friend, would you text them three days prior to say, ”Hi, the big day’s coming!”? Neither would I. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Virgin Media did to me.  I had arranged for them to add a landline to the broadband package that I already had with them.  They sent me the following message to confirm my appointment: “Hi, it’s Virgin Media. The big day’s coming!”  First of all, do they really think my life is so dull that having Virgin Media to visit would make it my “big day”?  If it was an event such as my wedding, moving house, having a baby, then, yes, this could be called a “big day”.  Virgin Media’s pending arrival – no.

Most businesses know that it is important to make their customers feel valued.  Virgin Media seem to have decided to turn it around and do the exact opposite!  They are trying to TELL me that I should be excited about THEM.  I found their tone quite self indulgent.

Nevertheless I replied to their message to reconfirm the appointment.

snapshot of text from Virgin MediaThe whole thing became even more irritating as half an hour later, I received another text from another Virgin Media mobile number again asking me to confirm that the appointment was to go ahead.  So what was the point of the first message?  Did they not receive my reply?  I certainly was not feeling very positive about my so-called “big day” after all that.

Make sure you show your customers that you appreciate them.  Don’t try to force them into believing that you are the best thing that has ever happened to them!

More Than A Cafe

cafe a boardI had a heart warming experience when I went for lunch the other week.  The staff member at the counter greeted me in a cheerful manner and asked me how I was.  I asked for the chicken burger, which was what I normally ordered.  The staff member took the opportunity to let me know that they recently had a new menu.  She commented that she wasn’t sure whether I had visited their outlet since it had been updated.  She told me with enthusiasm how they now had some lovely salads and some new pasta dishes.  Her enthusiasm washed off on me and I felt privileged that she had taken the time to encourage me to try the new ideas.  She also offered me a loyalty card and took the time to explain the various free items that I could earn.  It was great to see someone take such pride in the service that they were offering.  I felt encouraged to return, both to try the new items on the menu and to earn free gifts from my loyalty card!

The Value of Great Service

This week I have visited two different venues in view of holding a conference there.  Both of these venues are owned by the same company.  However they couldn’t have been more different in the welcome that they provided.

fawlty towersOn arrival at the first venue, I told the receptionist my name and who I was there to see.  When the receptionist called the person who I had booked the appointment with, I could tell from his conversation that the staff member was not expecting me.  I had to wait for around five minutes before she arrived to meet me in the reception area.  The worst part of the visit came when the staff member opened the door to the room where the event was to be held and a rat ran all the way across the floor!  I am not a fan of these animals at the best of times and I certainly did not expect to see one inside an upmarket venue.  The staff member then showed me one of their most exclusive bedrooms.  It smelt damp and musty and there was a general feeling of a lack of cleanliness.  I doubt I will be returning.

At the second venue, in contrast, I felt inspired and uplifted by the welcome, hospitality and service that I received. Even prior to my arrival, the Events Co-ordinator called me and let me know they were looking forward to meeting me. She also sent me an email with clear directions to the venue.  Upon arrival, there was not just the Events Co-ordinator, but also the Sales Director, waiting in the reception area to meet me.  They thanked me in a genuine and enthusiastic manner for coming to see them today.  The Sales Director said that meeting people like me was one of her favourite parts of her job. This put me at ease and made me feel welcome.

afternoon tea The staff members told me that they had reserved an area in the bar.  I couldn’t believe the sight when I sat down.  They had prepared a magnificent afternoon tea for me, with ornate crockery and an appetising fresh fruit platter.  I felt as though I was being treated like a queen.  They checked whether my name was spelt as ‘Rachael’ or ‘Rachel’.  This showed the level of attention to detail that they were making to ensure that I would be pleased with the experience that they were offering.  While we were sitting down, a man came up to the table and shook my hand.  He said that he was the Operations Director.  He checked that I was happy with my visit so far.  He gave me his business card and invited me to get in touch at any time.  I felt like a VIP by this point.

quote about being extraordinaryAfter the tea, I was shown through to the room where the event would be held.  The staff had arranged for my logo to be displayed on a projector at the front of the room. There was also a message displayed to welcome me to their venue.  The Sales Director enthused about how excited they were at the prospect of working with my company.  She said that she had been on the estate where my business is located as they have another client there.   She said she had driven past my office and was therefore very excited when she heard that I had made an enquiry.  She asked about other events that we hold throughout the year and told me that it would be great to form a partnership.

The Sales Director named a few of their blue chip clients and this showed the level of service that they offered.  She also told me a bit about the history of the building and also mentioned some TV shows that had been filmed there. The Event Co-ordinator let me know that she would look after me throughout the whole process.  The Sales Director joked that the Event Co-ordinator was always there and didn’t have time off as they couldn’t afford to be without her as she was so valuable to them.  I loved this attitude and it goes to prove that when staff feel important and valued, they will inevitably provide great service.  It was clear that the staff felt very proud of their venue.

It was very apparent how well the staff at the venue worked well as a team.  This created a welcoming and homely atmosphere.  This was evident to me by the following:

  • The Events Co-ordinator who I had originally spoken to on the telephone had told her Sales Director about my enquiry and had arranged for both of them to meet me.
  • The Operations Director had also been told about my visit and had come to meet me.
  • The staff in the corridors smiled and said, “Hello”, as we passed them.
  • Technical staff had arranged for my logo to appear on the screen in the conference room, together with a welcome message.
  • As we passed some other staff in the foyer, the Sales Director said that I could grab any staff member for assistance at any time. This made them stand out from many businesses in which individuals will only be focused on their own tasks and would not think about working as a team to assist their colleagues in other departments.

Throughout the visit, the Sales Director thanked me for my enquiry.  She acknowledged that I had given up my time to visit them today and thanked me for doing so.  She checked whether I was okay for time today, or whether I had any time constraints.  She also showed respect by asking me whether I preferred to be contacted by telephone or by email.  She explained that she understood that it could be difficult to take a telephone call during a busy working day.

customer service quoteThe Sales Director also told me that I could let them know in advance who the VIPs were in my company.  She said that they would arrange for these individuals to get a free upgrade to superior rooms.  She said that they would put wine, fruit, bottles of water and a nice welcome note from the General Manager in these rooms.  These added touches can go a long way.  Another way that the Sales Director made me feel valued was when she mentioned that she had noticed on my website that it was important for our company to be environmentally friendly.  She said, therefore, that they would be happy to provide crockery in place of disposable cups.

Towards the end of the conversation, I mentioned that we may be looking to hold a drinks reception on the evening of the first day of the event.  The Event Co-ordinator took this opportunity to close the sale by telling me that they would be happy to put on a drinks reception free of charge if I confirmed my booking by the following Friday.

thank you quoteBefore I left, the Sales Director made some friendly conversation with me.  She asked me about my hobbies and we found some common ground.  She used my name several times in conversation and said that it was good to get to know me.  On my way out I was handed a nice goody bag contained some chocolates, a notepad and some further information.

thank-you noteUpon leaving the venue I felt inspired and uplifted.  I truly felt as though I could form a partnership with this venue and that they would be dedicated to making sure that I was happy with their service.  It is also worth noting that I received an email straight after my visit thanking me for coming to see them.  I have a follow up email arranged for Tuesday as I said that I will be making my decision by then. It would be hard to choose another venue instead of this one after the warm welcome that I received.  I would be willing to pay more money for great service like this.

Experience Boutique can work with you to help your company achieve brand consistency across all of your locations.  Call us today on 0203 239 2326 or email Rachel at info@experienceboutique.co.uk

Personalising Your Service

personalised Coca Cola bottlesWe know that customers want to feel as though they have received a personalised solution to their unique challenge. This was brought to light to me this week while I was looking into ordering some new business cards. I looked on both Vistaprint and moo.com. Both of these websites offer a service in which they will send out a sample pack of their products to prospective customers. The process of ordering these sample packs differed greatly on the two sites.

On Vistaprint, I was simply asked for my contact details so that the pack could be sent to me. However on moo.com, I was asked a series of questions so that the sample pack could be tailored to my needs. The questions were quick and simple to answer.

I noticed how my perception of these two companies had been affected by the differing approaches. I guessed that the value of the cards from moo.com would be more expensive. I felt that it would be worth paying more for their service as it had been tailored to my specific needs. I felt confident that their company was looking after me and that I would be happy with my purchase.

This is a similar phenomenon to when I have been assisted while trying on clothes in a fitting room. When an employee makes a comment along the lines of, “That blue colour really illuminates your skin”, then I feel as though I would be missing out if I did not buy the garment in question! How do you make sure your customers feel as though your service has been personalised to them?

Setting Customer Expectations

diagram of customer needsWhen a company does what it says it is going to do then builds trust between the company and the customer. When a company fails to fulfill a promise, the opposite can happen. Recently, our local water supplier spent a couple of days in our road, dealing with a leak outside our house. When they departed, they left a lot of stones on the lawn, which would have been dangerous and would have blunted the blade on my lawnmower, had I not spent several minutes picking them up. It struck me as being very slovenly. However I received a very nice note through the door, explaining how much the company tries to improve the customer experience and inviting me to let them know if I was happy with their work. I therefore rang them to let them know about the stones on the lawn. Since I had removed the stones, there was no point in asking them to come back, so I just registered my comment and said there was no need to do any remedial work. However, the lady, who answered the phone, said that someone would phone me back after lunch. This did not happen, which annoyed me more than the original problem, because I felt that I had a promise that something would be done and it wasn’t. I had been encouraged by the first call to believe that the poor service was an exception but, having been let down by the lack of a call back, I rather believe that the poor service was not an exception. The lesson is, carry through on your promises.

Thank you to Keith for this week’s post.

Do your customers feel welcome?

image of yoga class
Yoga Class

Yesterday morning I decided that I was going to take part in a yoga class. I had visited three different branches of a sports shop recently and I was aware that each branch offered complimentary yoga classes. The difference between the three stores was that only one of them had actually taken the opportunity to invite me to their yoga class. While I was in the store, a friendly employee had told me that they ran yoga classes every Sunday. She informed me that they even provided the mats and said that there was normally space for everyone who turned up. This invite left me feeling welcome. Therefore I chose to go to this store over the others who had not invited me. It is human nature to need to feel wanted. Customers are no different to humans! Research by McKinsey has shown that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. I felt good to be invited to the class. It made me feel as though I could belong in their ‘club’. The instinct to want to belong also left me feeling as though I wanted to purchase the clothing from the store so that I could fit in with the other people in the yoga class.

As it happened, the yoga class exceeded my expectations. The staff thanked me for coming even though it was a free class! The class started on time. I was thanked and wished a good day as I left the store after the class. The class was challenging and I can feel the pain / benefits today!

Even if you are not running any events, there are many other ways of making customers feel encouraged to return.  Three examples are below:

  • Tell the customer your name and contact details. Let them know what days you are working so that they know when they may come back to see you.
  • Tell the customer about a new item that will be arriving soon in the store.
  • Explain to the customer how they can earn loyalty points on future visits.

What experiences have you had that have left you feeling welcome? It would be great to hear your stories in the comments below.

The Importance of Feeling Important

very important customer quote
http://www.marykay.co.uk
This week I am returning to my experience in a cycle store, as published two weeks ago. You can review the post here: Learning something new
I realised that there was another very important factor as to why this experience was so good. Effectively, I had two employees assisting me at the same time. This left me feeling like a Very Important Customer (VIC). Here at the Experience Boutique we believe that customer service and employee engagement are intrinsically interlinked. Customers and employees alike want to feel important and valued. In the TV show ‘Undercover Boss’ my favourite part of the show is the final part. The employees realise how important and valued they are within the business.

Here are a few suggestions that can make your customers feel important:
• If an appointment has been arranged, make sure that your front of house staff know about it. This allows them to show the client that you were expecting them before they even have to state who they are.
• Make notes during the consultation to show that you are listening.
• Repeat the customer’s needs back to them to show that you were listening and understood what they wanted.
• Tell the customer why a particular item or service could solve their unique challenge.
• Invite them to return to the store for a particular reason that is unique to them.

References: Undercover Boss