Everyone is looking for the best price, the best service for the dollar. Websites/apps such as Angie’s List and Yelp! make it easier than ever for consumers to find local businesses and read reviews from other consumers in their area. The ‘trial and error’ method of finding the best service provider has been somewhat curbed.
Business owners must be ever mindful of how they stack up to their competition. It is highly unlikely they are the only provider of a service in a given market. There is always someone offering something similar, if not the same, and consumers have the option when they go into a business or hire an expert to come to them. The following is a short list of how to lose customers to the competition in three easy steps:
1. Allow the customer to speak first. Everyone loves to walk into a business and feel the unwelcome chill of a vacant stare – not! No matter the business, the way in which a customer is greeted infinitely reflects the amount of money they will spend with that business – perhaps not all at once, but as a returning client. Owners and employees alike should always greet customers, new and returning, with a smile, a ‘hello’ and a ‘how may I help you today.’
2. Allow clients to educate the experts. Who doesn’t love to teach the expert about their business? Wrong. Business owners and their employees are sought out for their knowledge otherwise there is no reason to be in business. Customers who can do it themselves will, and those who cannot seek out experts. Business owners and their employees should be on top of the latest trends in equipment and techniques, as well as having an understanding of out-of-date models and systems as well. If a client can learn as much as the expert knows on Wikipedia, there is a problem.
3. Allow the customer to wait. In any business time is money, and the priority is always the time and energy of the business. BUZZ! Wrong again. Every customer should be greeted promptly (see #1 above), given an opportunity to explain their needs, and provided with at least one option to resolve the issue. If the resolution to their challenge cannot is not known off-hand or cannot be found quickly, they must be kept apprised of the business’ effort to find the resolution. Take a moment to update the customer on the status of their query and give them an estimate of when they may have the answer they seek. Assume the customer is in a hurry. The customer is paying for the time and energy of the business and its representatives, not the other way around.
To recap how a business can lose clients to the competition in three easy steps: greet customers promptly, making them feel welcome; be the expert in your field; behave as if every clients’ time is more valuable than diamonds. It is imperative to remember how word of mouth marketing works. If a customer has a great experience with a business, they will tell a friend. If they have a lousy experience, they will tell anyone who will listen.
Watching customers take their business to the next guy can start with a simple negative review on Yelp!