Sometimes I wonder if businesses complicate things on purpose, or if they are just too harried to see the simple, client-centered solutions they could be using to make their customers feel cared for. It’s not really a magic ball, but putting yourself in the place of your customer allows you to serve them in ways that offer them greater benefit, plus provide you with higher customer retention. I’ll share three scenarios where a company got a little off track, and offer a solution after each that can help better control resources, make a client happy, and make you just a bit more intuitive where their care is concerned.
Scenario 1: Recently I received instructions for some steps I needed to follow to set up a new web marketing app I’m testing – the instructions arrived via email and had a “.docx” extension – I’d never heard of this extension, but apparently it’s some sort of XML dealy. So, what if I’m not a 2007 Word user (which I’m not, I use OpenOffice) and what if I’m not as computer literate as some? In this case, it didn’t open on the first or second try, so after downloading some things, I finally got it to open. BUT, what a waste of time, 40 minutes, to be exact.
Solution: Either ask your client how they’d like the information (manuals, instructions, warranties could all be provided this way) or offer them a link where they can retrieve it online; offer many options for the format. Certainly most would consider a .pdf to be fine, but just ask and don’t assume your client is using the same desktop tools or platform you are, or that they’re as tied to technology as you. Also consider that some people use multiple computers, so make login as simple as possible.
Scenario 2: While registering for a class online, they tell me, “We don’t take credit cards, you’ll have to bring a check at the time of class.” What is this, 1973? Frankly, I probably write 5 checks a year and I never carry my checkbook anywhere. I’m not alone; many use debit and credit cards as a standard course of payment every day.
Solution: Be prepared to let customers pay in any fashion they please, including online or in person with cash, credit cards or checks. If you don’t want the expense of a fulltime merchant account through your bank, you can use PayPal or similar, but offer options and your customers will use the one that suits them best.
Scenario 3: I’m in the grocery store and the cashier chirps the typical, “Did you find everything you needed?”, to which I replied, “No, you guys really have a weak selection of tofu,” and no joke, here’s his response, “Oh, that’s too bad, we can’t do anything about that up here, we just take your money and bag your groceries.” Great, so they offer one brand of tofu in two styles, and for me, there’s no chance of seeing others in the future? Here’s a person at the front line, dealing with customers; what better place to serve a customers needs?
Solution: Offer your clients multiple ways to get the items they want, even if it means sending them to a competitor. While you can’t be expected to have every item in the world in your store, you should be paying close attention to trends (and folks, in Boulder, Colorado, tofu is extremely popular.) Train your staff to have cards in hand that say “I want XYZ, please notify me when it arrives.” Maybe even offer a little feedback box in certain sections of the store and take a pulse on what customers are asking for. Many traditional stores are expanding the organic and natural food selections they offer, so what better place to get input? Have an online “form” where they can make requests like this and notify them through email when it arrives in your store.
Being intuitive with your customers seems like a lot of work, but really all it is is taking the time to think like a consumer versus thinking like a “suit.” It might seem like a lot of groundwork to set up, but try running your business without your customers and then you’ll get a glimpse of what’s really hard…trying to keep the doors open when after your customers have stopped doing business with you.