Methods to surprise, amaze and impress customers
30 eggs are arranged perfectly in a box. They are like the proverbial peas in a pod. All are egg-shaped and all are white. Except for one. As colourful as a rainbow, it stands out from the crowd. Which egg is spotted first? Which is taken? Touched? Which egg is remembered later? The painted one, of course. Your company can also be a painted egg; by surprising, amazing and impressing customers; by presenting yourself differently to everyone else; by recognising important moments of truth and creating moments where your customers are impressed beyond compare.
The current economic situation is leading to enormous losses in sales for many companies. Even the most loyal, regular customers are being more careful with their money, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to win over new customers. Products, quality and services are becoming more and more similar. Any company wishing to inspire its customers must develop methods that are more creative, brighter and more interesting than the familiar methods.
Increase the degree of fascination
We are suffering from the equality syndrome: everything is similar and can, therefore, be exchanged. If a company wants to avoid being like all the others, it must offer more ..., it must be different! If it wants to do more than just cope with the future, and wants to prosper, it must:
- Inspire tired customers
- Work systematically on refining its company (strategy, quality, etc.)
- Increase the level of fascination in its company
Wealthy people, who buy because they want to rather than because they have to, need to be captivated and inspired. Satisfied people need greater impulse.
A painted egg stands out from the crowd
But how can we make customers view us as a painted egg? We have to surprise, amaze and wow customers. Why is it not sufficient to have customers who are merely satisfied? Because customer satisfaction means that the customer gets what he expects-nothing less, but also nothing more! He could just as easily be satisfied elsewhere.
The degree of loyalty depends on how happy one is with the provider, how much importance one attaches to the relationship, whether one pays attention to rivals and, if so, how greatly the two differ. It sounds almost like real life, doesn't it? But enthusiastic customers are those who purchase from us because they are utterly convinced by the products and services. This is precisely what makes customers into supporters.
Inspiring personal contact
Whether companies and employees know their customers, and whether they use the existing knowledge of their customers, ultimately decides whether the customers are impressed or merely satisfied. The so-called "moments of truth" are decisive in defining how satisfied a customer is. Moments of truth are the contacts between customers and staff. To structure these moments consciously and actively, they must first be realised and continually improved to increase the benefit to the customer. Customer, employee and company have completely different outlooks and perspectives. Employees experience the daily routine of processes and activities, and logically see them as important. The customer, on the other hand, does not experience the continuity of the processes. He gets only short impressions. The feeling of satisfaction or dissatisfaction is made up of many of these smaller moments. The most important moments of truth are:
- The First Impression
The first impression counts - not only in human relations. Customers gain impressions each time they have contact with a company. If the customer has a good first impression of a company, he will treat it with a positive attitude. The first impression often decides whether or not the customer will make a purchase or place an order. By this point, the customer has not yet spoken to an employee. However, a subconscious decision has already been made in his head.
The first impression of a company can be produced in very different ways: correspondence with offers arrive through the letterbox, adverts are read, news is spread by word of mouth. A glance in a display window or foyer, a phone call, or a sighting on the Internet are also contributing factors.
Have you ever been in an aeroplane, and folded the tray down from the back of the seat in front of you, only to find coffee stains on the tray? Subconsciously you ask yourself how the airline maintains the areas that you cannot see, such as the on-board kitchen. Or even the engines.
This mindset is a part of human nature. Customers are people and thus also have this human nature. If they notice beer bottles in a car park, a broken advertisement, or a jammed door, they make a certain perception of how the areas that they cannot see must look, or how reliable the collaboration will be. Nobody who forms a negative impression before even entering the company will become a customer! Whether you send your customers offers, run an advertising campaign, distribute flyers, or speak to customers on the telephone, it is all dialog. This dialog decides whether or not a potential customer becomes a long-term customer.
- The Reception
This is the first personal contact. Its most important task is to connect with complete strangers within a matter of seconds. Use this opportunity to impress customers.
Do you greet your customers in a pleasantly different way to your rivals? Do you differ from the local business? Whatever form of greeting you opt for, have the courage to be different. If you do not have automatic doors, then you could open the door for your customer. In American stores you can still find door boys, whose task it is to open the door for customers and to give them a warm and friendly welcome. Just like the greeter in England.
- The Consultation
Experts stand out due to good consultations. Unfortunately, this is a decreasing trend. In contrast, the number of "order-takers" or "delivery salesmen" is increasing by the day. Presence alone is not sufficient. Specialist knowledge is prerequisite for good
Targeted questions to determine demand are prerequisite for a good consultation. Practice techniques for posing questions. Research the customer's motives. A good consultation impresses the customer and makes him curious. Language and body language complement one another. Be committed when singing the praises of your product or service. The better the customer contact, the less likely your customer is to go elsewhere: you do the consulting and planning - the customer then uses your specifications to purchase at the discount shop.
- The Sale
Excellent sales technique begins by recognising the different desires and requirements of the customers. You must also be clear as to what customers want, what customers need, what customers think, when customers are satisfied, when customers are impressed, and whether customers will return. Pay attention to the age of the customers, the type of clothing, their conversational skills, and their behaviour. Intuition means the ability to understand the overall picture. The main question is: "If I were the customer, what would I want?"
The notion that a good salesperson is someone who talks a lot still persists. The opposite is actually the case - a good salesperson is a good listener! Only someone who listens carefully can understand his customers, and find out what he needs to know in order to offer customers what they want. Good questions can be used to steer the conversation and inspire feelings.
- The Farewell
After the actual purchase, you can make a good final impression, and put the "cherry on the cake" for the customer. Use this opportunity. When dealing with customers paying with customer cards or credit cards, use their name. This is more personal and distinctive. You are forming part of a relationship. Take the time to register and use their name. It is worth the effort.
You can put another cherry on the cake by, for example, offering your services as a contact partner should the customer have any further requests. In addition, you can accompany the customer to the door and say farewell there.
- And Then?
Do not allow your customer to fade away like a potted plant that is not watered. Many businesses make great efforts on the day of the sale, but as soon as the customer leaves, no attention is paid to customer service. What do you do with your customers? Show your customers that you are actively and personally interested by phoning them with appropriate queries? Sales professionals know that "the actual sale only starts after the sale".
Human experience takes precedence over material experience Companies do not usually fail due to large issues, but due to small things. We must become the world champions in trivial matters-in the many seemingly insignificant things. This is only possible with the right people, the right employees in the right positions, and in every position within the company.
Everything can be copied-products, procedures, quality assurance or service ideas. Companies usually notice very quickly if they are being exceptionally successful, as the competition copies things faster than anticipated. Everything can be copied-except people. This is why the human experience takes precedence over the material experience. People in companies must win the customer's heart and make the moment of truth incomparable for each individual.
Individual cogs in a company must interlock Every company has many different areas - purchasing, sales, accounting, production, etc. However, these individual cogs seldom interlock like the grinding gear in a mill. Isolated from each other, there can be no integral enthusiasm to be conveyed to customers. Companies require guidelines that can be realised on a daily basis. The following tips help when creating such an approach to promote customer enthusiasm:
- At all levels of the hierarchy, the importance of being "one cog" in the machine is recognised and appreciated accordingly.
- A good team spirit exists within departments and between individual departments.
- Clear rules exist for greeting and taking leave of customers.
- The employees are familiar with the rules of "small talk", and avoid clumsy wording.
- Customers are consulted once or twice a year.
- Employees are consulted once a year.
- Regular discussions take place, for example, on the subject of customer enthusiasm.
- New employees are trained (and tested) correctly on the subject of customer enthusiasm.
- Customer advice and information techniques are trained regularly.
- Management or employees do not occupy the best parking spaces in front of the entrance.
In a mill, all the cogs interlock (from the water wheel to the grindstone). This is the only way of making flour from grain. The cogs in a company also work in this way. The interplay of all forces results in a "customer pull", which attracts existing and new customers.
The relationship between employee and customer provides all kinds of opportunities to actively retain customers and acquire new customers. Check the quality of your services every day. The personal service culture will ensure your success.
Ralf R. Strupat
33790 Halle/Westphalia, Germany,
Phone: +49 (0) 52 01/9 71 70-0,
Fax: +49 (0) 52 01/9 71 70-19