Long after a customer visits your store or experiences your company’s service, an impression of their experience remains in their minds.
As most business owners know, bringing in new customers costs significantly more than enticing repeat business by ensuring that you meet or exceed customer expectations. Therefore, it’s better to get it right the first time and create a lasting impression from the get-go instead of having to backpedal and overcompensate. Many business owners try to compensate with costly advertising and marketing efforts, only to learn that there are deeper issues that need to be addressed to make a positive impression on customers. What’s interesting is that there are four easy components to accomplish this:
- Customer service
- Following up
In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways to make a lasting impression on your customers and clientele.
Sometimes it seems that businesses do everything in their power to grow their business but forget all about the customer. Remember, the customer comes first and everything else follows from there. The easiest way to achieve this is by ensuring that your staff and managers are well-trained in the art of people-pleasing according to your company’s ethics and guidelines. Every customer should be treated as if they are special; after all, if you’ve ever got the same service as other people, it’s hard not to feel dehumanized and just another number. The customer should be actively listened to and taken care of. This can be as simple as asking customers for their thoughts, comment cards, incentivized programs to get their feedback—any info you receive from customers should be an indication of what your business needs to stay competitive. When done right, you implement the changes and make the customer feel like a crucial part of your business. This, in turn, encourages those same customers to refer others to your business.
Your business’ reputation is of paramount importance when people decide to form an impression of where your business stands in the marketplace. Your business lives and dies on the opinions of others; if you hear “Oh, that’s the place that does X” too many times, you’re sunk (whether or not those rumors are true).
Word of mouth is directly responsible for the success and failure of the business. Think of any restaurant that is rumored to have a pest problem, the software company that loads their programs with spyware, or a department store chain that exploits workers in 3rd world countries to satisfy its own greed. True or not, if your business doesn’t uphold the utmost in ethics towards its customers, it can succumb to rumors and speculation.
No one likes to feel ripped off. That’s why offering quality products and services goes a long way to establish a lasting impression for your business. Customers want bang for their buck, while still maintaining quality. However, trying to define what quality is maybe a fruitless endeavor. After all, one man’s trash is another’s treasure, and you can spread your business too thin by trying to please all demographics. That’s where a keen understanding of what your target market defines as quality comes into play.
Memory isn’t always 20/20. However, your emotions felt in the experience create something to draw from. When a customer is reminded of a pleasurable experience, they associate whatever caused it to be good; conversely, customers may think negative thoughts. This is one of the reasons why our sense of smell can instantly conjure up nostalgic memories of your grandmother’s cooking or her favorite perfume, or a particular word can have us in tears at the remembrance of a lost love.
In business, this concept works the same. By creating a way of getting positive feelings anchored to your business, customers form a favorable impression of your business.
There’s no easier way to do this than following up with customers. Even just checking in from time to time can make customers look favorably on your business. One tried-and-true method of following up is by sending a birthday or anniversary card in the mail. You can even personalize the card by using custom stamps and colorful stamp ink pads to personalize that birthday card or loyalty reward. After all, your relatives may forget the date, but a business giving you a gift can tap into the emotional appeal of a brand and establishing a lasting impression for years to come.
First impressions, must like those seeking romantic interests, can also serve as a make-or-break moment when it comes to customers deciding to revisit your business. If you want to follow the rules of dating in the 21st century when it comes to business, remember these two rules:
- Be attractive.
- Don’t be unattractive.
Cleanliness is godliness. For businesses, appearance is extremely important. Customers subconsciously prefer a clean and inviting environment, whether it is a bank or a busy restaurant. Landscaping should be employed whenever possible and the outside should suggest high standards of cleanliness. Similarly, your employees should have standards of hygiene that exceed just being “passable”, or wear uniforms to separate them from similarly-dressed customers. Company vehicles should be in clean, working order, as this shows that your business has an attention to detail and cares to look professional.
You can extend this idea to online ecommerce pages, as well. If your website looks outdated, clunky, or looks like it was cobbled together as an afterthought, customers may rightly assume that you don’t care to put in the time and resources to join the 21st century. Investing in a simple online presence or social media accounts can take time, but remember that an attractive appearance draws in customers that may be in on the fence about your company.
* * *
In conclusion, how your customers perceive your business is ultimately what will make your business grow or struggle. By offering excellent customer service, quality goods, and services, following up on past experiences, and maintaining a healthy appearance, businesses will succeed in growing their client base.
- There’s No Such Thing As “Business” Ethics: There’s Only One Rule for Making Decisions
- Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs To Know
- Starting a Greeting Card Business
- How to Use Business Cards to Get More Customers and Increase Profits
- Customer Service: How to Knock the Socks Off Your Customers