I’m a raging complainer. I complain when it’s justified and some wrong has been done. I don’t complain for any old reason but when I do, it’s something to behold.
Since opening my retail brand, NicHarry.com, my rage about bad customer service and general bad experiences at other stores has intensified. I know what it takes to keep your customer at the centre of your business. It’s won’t be easy and it’s not always fun.
I understand the line between too much customer engagement and not enough. I understand the difference between listening intently to your customer and letting them define the direction of your business. Something I’ve learnt is that mostly, the customers understand this too.
They don’t want to run your business, they don’t think they can do it better and they sure as hell don’t want to. What they want is a good experience, with good service, both delivered consistently.
Here are a few things that I’ve learnt and implemented at Nic Harry and previous businesses that have worked and continue to work for me.
If you set out to do something unique in your store or for your customers, do it regularly. Yes, you can try something out once and see if it works, but if it’s part of your processes, don’t give it up. Nic Harry has a branded scent that we developed.
This scent features in each of our brick and mortar stores as well as in every package we send online. We consistently push our scent so that customers recognise us and our brand when they smell it in store, walking past or in our packaging.
Talk to them, not at them
You’d think that selling a sock is a simple business. However, there are nuances in the process that make our socks unique. We have to explain this to our customers but we never, ever talk down to them or at them.
We engage and talk to our customers, involving them in the process and helping them to learn the benefits of our socks over others.
Involve your customers in conversions — don’t sell them, don’t pitch them. Stories sell more than product. Stories are memorable and retold more frequently than a simple product experience. Talk to your customers.
Even sales people at notoriously sombre and serious retail stores like Louis Vuitton should be having fun. It doesn’t look like they do and that’s a pity if you ask me. I want to feel happy when I spend my money.
Don’t want to be sad and depressed looking at the person selling me something. If I’m parting with my hard earned cash, don’t make me regret it. At Nic Harry we go for fun. Yes, we’re serious about selling, but we’re more serious about our customers having fun.
One of the most frustrating things for me at a restaurant is when a waiter is completely disinterested and depressed when they serve you and take your order. It makes the meal very frustrating and makes me want to leave. What does this mean? It means I want to leave, and not have that extra drink or next course.
Happiness is infectious. So is sadness. Especially in the service industry.
The details matter
You think they don’t, but they do. People may not notice a speck of dust or a bit of dirt. But eventually someone will and they will care and they’ll leave without buying something.
Sweep and mop the floors, clean the windows, line up the labels and make sure that the details are as you want them to be. They’re not the same for everyone, but they need to be a focus. Do not compromise on your standards.
A little nudge here, dropping a small process there and eventually you’ll become just like any other business out there with average standards, average employees and average customers instead of fans who love your brand.
There are lots of tricks, gimmicks and gadgets that you use in store and online to make customers care initially. The goal, however, is long-term commitment from as many customers as you can retain.
Here’s why: Making more sales from existing and loyal customers is five times cheaper than gaining a new customer and making a new sale.
Relish the opportunity to sell to new customers but make sure that you’re doing everything you can to engage with your existing customers in a meaningful way.
Keep them loyal, value the relationship with them, remember their names, their previous purchases and their preferences and they will be impressed by your dedication and attention to detail.