When sales are slumping and your start to think you may need more marketing and advertising exposure, it can literally pay to consider the customer experience. Taking the area you control, inside your four walls and on your virtual business space, and making sure that your operation is fundamentally running well is an essential step before attempting to pull in additional business. Without a rock solid foundation to build on, dissatisfied customers could pull down your sales further. Keep three key areas in mind: the state of your physical space, your opening and closing interactions with clientele, and the fine points of your product or service.
Entrance / Visual: When a customer approaches your place of business, is the glass on your doors and windows clean? Is the landscaping around your storefront well tended? Is your signage clean and operation? Take a hard look at your business, and consider the first impressions you’re giving customers. A poor visual presentation sets the tone for the overall experience, and other sense-based cues are crucial to consider as well. Do you have appropriate background music, with the volume at an acceptable level? What about how your space smells? Working to please all the senses together can help to not just bring people through the door, but also the drive business once they’re inside.
Greeting and De-greeting: Another part of first impressions is how you and your team are greeting customers. Take a look at how your team answers the phone and acknowledges customers entering your location.
The focus should be on customers, and a distracted greeting – or worse, total lack of engagement – can turn off some potential customers. A sincere and consistent greeting can go a long way towards a positive customer experience. Don’t forget to extend a personal invitation to come back and thank people for stopping in or making a purchase, either!
Service: If you provide a service, perform a critical audit of your service. Do you have bottlenecks? Are team members in need of additional training? Have your experienced team members adopted to changes in the business and meeting your standard today? How do they respond to guest concerns? Leverage feedback tools on receipts, surveys, and most importantly ask your customers how you are doing. For online businesses, how simple is it to obtain prices and the overall checkout process? Considering the ease and comfort of the customer experience can both encourage new business and keep existing customers coming back.
Product: For product-based businesses, consider whether your product is up to standard. Do you have cases where you need to close a gap on customer expectations? How efficient is the process of getting your product in the hands of a customer? Ensuring the quality of goods along with ease of attainability will not only boost sales, but foster relationships.
Think through: Before trying to increase guests, make sure the foundation of your business is solid, that what happens inside the four walls of your business is top notch. Basic functions need to be checked continuously and be part of your DNA regardless of the economy, competition or other external factors. It can also be the hardest to self-diagnose, so don’t hesitate to work with a business coach or consultant to tell you what you need to hear but may not want to hear. Do not ignore early warning signs of slumping sales and make excuses that it is something outside your direct control. Focus on the basics, ensure you’re ready, and then expand.