If there is one phrase that can be asked in many ways it is "how can I help you?" If you have ever shopped somewhere exclusive and had a sales assistant swoop in and utter this phrase you may have backed away in fear. Well that was probably their intention lets be honest. As small business owners we should always be thinking about helping our customers, there are so many ways we can do this kindly and gently, bringing them closer to us and to a sale.
Here are three ways you can try to do just that.
1. Offer your knowledge
It costs nothing to offer knowledge we may have and they may need. If you are shopping somewhere and a sales assistant takes the time to tell you about the items you are looking at in a way that adds to what we knew before, we will walk away feeling impressed with their knowledge, reinforcing our opinion of them as the expert. I have had this experience in book & plant shops, and I bought something each time. Think to yourself, what could I offer my customer for free, that will teach them something today, may make them feel happier, and may lead to a sale. There will always be something you can do along these lines.
2. Offer your time
Giving your time does come at a cost, but it is one of the biggest gifts we can give. I was reminded of this whilst watching the Becoming documentary about Michelle Obama. It shows the affect that she had on people who had bought a copy of her book, and lined up to get it signed. She gave each person her undivided attention, and the experience for each one was priceless. How can you emulate this? Maybe you could give more attention to the way you answer enquiry emails so that customers feel that you really care about what you write to them. Auto responses are great, but people know when they get one. Unless you are busy enough to need an assistant to do it for you, show people you care by replying in a way that shows you gave them your time.
3. Offer your recommendation
There will be times when you simply cannot do what a customer is looking for. You can still help them even then. When someone needs something they can feel vulnerable because they don't entirely understand the process that the person who does the job for them will undertake. When your car breaks down and you need roadside assistance, unless you are a mechanic you are putting your life in their hands. That is why we choose companies that have great reputations for customer service.
So if someone comes to you wanting your help, and you can't do it. Instead of turning them away suggest someone you know and trust who can do it instead. You are helping your customer because you are short-cutting a world of worry for them, but for the same reasons be careful who you do suggest. A bad experience with them will link back to you.
Thanks for reading
Singing for my Supper
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Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in Nunhead near Peckham. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing. Based at 61 Cheltenham Road, Peckham, SE15 3AF