A guide for shed retailers
It’s been established that Customer Service Should Be King in the Shed Industry, for a number of reasons — the biggest being that it can really help your success down the track. (If you missed our recent blog article on this topic, check out our recent customer service in the shed industry article).
But how can you practically improve your customer relationships as a shed retailer? And how can you do so if you’re a one-man-band, or a small team?
This guide, which is relevant to the various types of shed retailer set ups (including individual traders and small to medium businesses, as well as larger businesses) should give you plenty of guidance and ideas to get you started.
How to improve customer relationships as a shed retailer
Improve your customer service
The first step to improving your customer relationships is to improve your customer service. Something that sounds simple but can be easy to forget is the simple fact that as consumers, we feel more loyalty to the businesses and brands that deliver excellent customer service. And as people, we instantly feel more connected to the people that treat us with warmth, kindness, respect, friendliness, and genuine conversation.
The best way to quickly improve your customer service? Try to think of your customers the same way as you do your close friends, and treat them as such. This doesn’t mean freaking them out by wrapping them into a bear hug the first time they walk through the door. Although that would certainly be a memorable experience. But it does mean:
Think back to a time that you experienced great customer service in your own life, as a customer. What was it about the experience that made it fantastic?
There are many a local restaurant that win themselves loyal, regular customers from the small touches — super friendly wait staff that are more than happy to take their orders, warm and welcoming, happy to answer any extra questions, and who seem to go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is a good one. The truth is, this creates such an impact, but is really not too hard to do once you get into the habit of it. So much of this experience lies in the customer service: the friendliness, politeness, attentiveness, active listening, and person to person interaction.
Focus on the customer, and the solutions you provide
To improve your customer relationships, focusing on the customer is a key element. Try to really understand what it is they want, and then look at how you can provide those solutions.
Ask your customers and prospects the questions that will allow you to find the best fit to meet these needs, wants and preferences, for the best price.
One thing that many business managers and sales departments can often forget, is that it’s just as important to focus on the customer than it is to focus on the ‘sale’ and the revenue.
Yes, the sale keeps the business running, but doing so with excellent customer service keeps the customers happy and saying great things about you to all of their friends, leaving 5-star reviews, and assisting future sales after their own sale is already done and dusted.
Remember the details and personalise the experience
Small details and personalisation can really improve a customer’s experience, which improves their relationship with you. In fact, you’ll be amazed how much of a difference the small details make to the customer relationship.
People don’t want to just feel like a number, sale or prospect. They want to know that you understand them, what they’re after, and are recommending solutions that meet this. And for most of us, we respond much better when we feel like we’re being connected with at a personal level.
While it’s hard to remember all of the details about each customer, quickly jotting down info on them will really help to retain these details in your own memory, and can also be referred back to later. The next time you have a phone call enquiry, write down the customer’s name, number and any key details you can remember, following the call.
For example, if a customer tells you that he wants a shed quoted, and mentions that he has a bunch of fishing rods and other stuff he needs to get out of the garage, mentioning the fishing rods when you send through the design and quote let’s him know that you’ve remembered the details of the conversation. And if you want to blow him out of the water, you could even work specifics of the customers intended use into the design, or design options.
Even recalling the details of a customer’s initial enquiry goes a long way — for example, when the customer calls up again and says their name, confirming “oh yes, John, you were asking about options for a boat shed – how can I help you today John?”
Improve your communication style, and response speed
Great communication is key to any strong customer relationship. If you’re swamped with other work, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to action everything straight away (although, the quicker you can progress each customer, the better), communicating straight away is key.
Here are some examples:
And of course, when looking at improving your communication style, don’t forget to improve your ‘bedside manner’ — are you responding in a friendly way, with a smile on your face and in a warm tone of voice in face to face conversations? How is your phone manner? Are your emails friendly, or could they sound harsh or ‘cranky’? Are you ensuring you fully answer the customers’ questions? Are you communicating everything you need to, with transparency? Taking a step back from how we deliver the message is an important element in improving your communication style.
Treat your customers in the way you’d like to be spoken about
One of the most important factors for good customer relationship management lies in treating your customers in the way you’d like them to speak about you to others.
Be sure to be helpful, honest, transparent, professional and friendly, and provide a great service. Great experiences are shared with friends, family and colleagues when they are in the market for a shed or structure themselves.
At the very least, treating each and every customer and enquiry with a good level of respect and integrity will help you avoid a flood of negative reviews — which can be very damaging to your business, negatively impact your future prospects decisions and their trust, and are very hard to take down on the core review platforms.
Actively seek (and act on) feedback
Asking your customers how they found the experience after you’ve delivered the final product is a great way to find out where your customer experience needs improvement, and where it excels. This gives you fantastic insight into how you can further improve and grow for better customer relationships moving forward.
In summary, and overall, improving your customer relationships comes down to:
If you nail these areas, and approach every new enquiry, prospect, sale and project as one that you’d like to deliver the best experience possible, with a focus on the customer, you’re already most of the way there towards excellent customer relationships — and all of the benefits that these can provide.