Several years ago I went on a rare for me trip to that endangered species, “the mall,” to buy new clothes for another rarity, a business trip (ah, the joys of the freelance life working from home!). I dreaded the great search for something that would work and not break the bank. I did find a little dress and some shoes eventually, but the very best part about the whole experience was—the human connection. No, not just people watching in the mall, but the helpfulness of the sales staff in the stores. I don’t know if the Apple Store’s aura has spread, or if retail corporations have rediscovered their ethic of customer service (and maybe commission-based sales), but I really noticed an uptick in the quality of sales service in both large department stores and smaller boutique outlets. I felt connected and taken care of in both types of places. Makes me want to do more of my shopping in the real world rather than online, actually. Which brings me to the title of this post.
I’ve been reading marketing philosophy material for some time now, and although I’m getting tired of the “3 things/5 things/10 things” bit with some of the posts I’ve read, one theme seems to come through as most common-sensical to me: People do business with other people they know, like, and trust (which is what the folks in the mall stores were fostering so well).
Also, folks tend to be looking not so much for “stuff” but for experiences that they think they need that “stuff” in order to have. Steve Jobs of Apple Computer understood the human desire for a certain kind of experience, usually involving the excitement of the new, the potential for making processes faster and easier, the aesthetics of visual experience, and the nice feeling of making connections. I got all of these needs fulfilled by the sales folks at the mall. The quality and fit of the clothes counted also, but the shopping experience turned out to be more important to me.
Stay curious about your customers and prospects (without being nosy), and the liking and trusting bit will follow pretty easily. That’s been my experience with my own businesses. Most of my best reviews (like on the footer of my editorial biz site here) are about the relationship with the client. I’d say customer service makes up at least forty percent of what gives satisfaction and creates referrals.
So, do your customers know, like, and trust you? And how do you go about getting to know them, please them, and build trust? Take a look at your website this coming week, and ask yourself those questions in terms of how you present yourself and your products and/or services. I’d love to know what you find!