If you have a business, one of your top goals is probably customer retention, but guess what? Your employees are driving customers away every day and you probably don’t even know it.
Let’s face it, no matter your industry or type of business, you have competitors. There’s another business like yours on the next block, or in the next town, or even more conveniently for your customers, ONLINE, that basically provides the same products and services as your business.
If you care about your business, as I’m sure you do, you probably spend a good bit of time worrying about what your competitors are doing and trying to keep up. Well guess what- you’re looking in the wrong direction. Instead of looking outside your business, you need to be focusing on is what’s going on under your own roof, mainly, how your employees are interacting with YOUR customers!
Here are some of the things your employees are doing that are driving your customers out the door and into the arms of your competitors.
Being invisible – When I walk into a business, I shouldn’t have to hunt down someone to help me. You should know I’ve arrived and someone should be there to great me and ask if I need help. No matter what your employees are doing, they need to know that the #1 priority in your business is the LIVE customer who comes through the door.
Being poor communicators – I don’t understand why someone would hire an employee to work “front line” customer service who is a terrible communicator- and this could mean anything from bad grammar to bad attitude to being a mumble-mouth. The other day when I was in a drive-through getting a coffee, I had to say “WHAT?” at least five times because despite how hard I was trying, I didn’t have a clue what the employee was saying- and it wasn’t because of the intercom. When another employee has to jump on the intercom (or on a call, or take over the register) to say, “What she said was…” you’ve hired the wrong person to work your drive thru.
Not knowing your products – What differentiates a “brick and mortar” business from an online one is the customer’s ability to get counsel! When I walk into my local pet store to buy dog food, I KNOW before I even see the price tag that I can get that food cheaper in a big-box store or online. However, I make the choice to go in in the HOPES that there will be someone there who can tell me more about the product than the product description I can read online. I want someone who can make recommendations and who has personal knowledge of the product. The same goes for any business, from servers who don’t know the menu or ingredients in a dish, to a service company not knowing the details of the services they provide.
Pushing products or services based on price, rather than quality or appropriateness for the customer – I recently called an electronics store because I broke my laptop power cord. I didn’t have time to order online and was basically at the mercy of the person who answered the phone. Rather than asking any questions, like how much I wanted to spend, or even giving me a choice between two cords (there were at least 4 that would have worked with my computer), he just named the cord he said I needed. It was no surprise to me that it was the most expensive one. After hanging up the phone, I found a cord at the store’s website that clearly said it would work with my computer and it was $30 cheaper! Result- never shopping there again, that’s for sure. And btw- even if it was an innocent mistake and not just trying to sell a more expensive product, see the paragraph above this one!
Having NO CLUE what type of customer is standing in front of them – Every industry has different customer types with different values and different buying and spending habits. I’m currently working on a training program that will help front-line pet industry professionals identify what type of customer is standing in front of them. There are basically three types- there’s the Pet Owner, the Pet Guardian, and the Pet Parent. Each different “type” makes different buying decisions based on different standards. When your employees have no idea how to identify the type of customer in front of them, they can’t properly serve them, guide them to the right products, or even sell more product! When you don’t know who you’re serving, you’re not serving anyone AND you’re leaving money on the table.