New customers are the lifeblood of every business. While it’s good to be acquainted with most of the people who shop your local store, you also want to see a steady influx of unfamiliar faces. Why? It shows your message is reaching a broader audience who want the product and services you offer. Often, retailers think they’re doing all right if the core group of loyal customers who account for the bulk of their sales patronizes their business. You certainly want to maintain a positive relationship with these influential customers—but it’s equally important to grow your community.
Dare to be Different
Fortunately, home improvement retailers have a knack for seeing opportunities that big box retailers frequently overlook until customers bring issues to their attention. Today, the tide has turned in favor of small business owners who are more in-tune with their customers and can quickly respond to their concerns and evolving demands.
You have the flexibility to offer unique products or sell merchandise sold exclusively through the independent retail channel. Customers want to feel a personal connection with the people with whom they do business. In this social world, your business success depends on a person’s willingness to invite you to join their community as someone they can trust to assist them with home improvement projects and expert advice. In your case, building community is a two-way street.
Your philosophy on customer service has a lot to do with the type of service your staff delivers. Amazon is a good example. It’s hard to believe that Jeff Bezos launched Amazon twenty-five years ago with a handful of employees who worked side-by-side shipping books out of his garage. However, the “customer-obsessed” company has never wavered in the belief that listening to its customers is instrumental to its success.Note, this quote from Jeff Bezos.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
I’m sure you have also set a high bar for customer service. When you treat people well by delighting them with over-the-top service, they’re happy to share their experiences in person or online with others. According to the American Express Customer Service Barometer, Americans tell an average of 11 people when they have a good experience. Shoppers are also willing to spend more. It’s especially true of millennials who willingly spend twenty-one percent more for excellent service.
Think of the people who already do business with you as your brand ambassadors. Many of them are more than willing to talk about the service they received online. However, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them to post an online review to share their experience. These reviews are valuable for attracting new customers.
Offer Real Value
Glitzy advertising is never a substitute for quality and value. Upset consumers use social media and every channel at their disposal to expose poorly made products. No business is immune from selling a few products that turn out to be lemons. However, this should never be the norm. It’s always better to resolve any product or service issues quickly to the customer’s satisfaction before things escalate. Just as you have built relationships with customers, you have partnered with manufacturer reps and wholesalers to offer quality products you can sell with confidence. When you strike the right balance between an innovative product assortment, delightful service, and real value, you’ll see more customers walking in your door or buying online.