Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Business Chat - Excellent customer service is key

Today I zipped into a shopping mall and was instantly stopped in my tracks. There was a sound, a song, music that made my blood run cold. How could it be, Halloween was just 2 days ago! But it was, there were Christmas carols playing. It is officially holiday shopping season. Are you ready?

In a retail landscape that is often feast or famine this is our feast time my crafty friends. Yet as much as we’re looking at the big windfall that is coming our way it’s important to remember that each customer has a limited amount of dollars to spend, and at this time of year there are even more crafters hitting the scene hunting for those dollars. You need to stand out of the crowd.

Excellent customer service is a big way of making yourself stand out.

Today let’s talk about customer service at a craft show.

  1. Say hello to every single person who stops by your booth. Not just the ones who come in, but the ones who are slowing down as they pass by. Even if you’re busy with someone, a quick hello and “I’ll be right with you” to acknowledge them shows that you care.
  2. Treat every customer as if they were the most important person in the world. They are. They are paying your bills and enabling your business to grow.
  3. Hang out with your friends after the show. Put down your cell phone, your iPod, your book. These are not paying your bills.
  4. Ask your customers if they’d like help. Not everyone will, they can always say no.
  5. Have signs on your work with suggestions such as “Great hostess gift!” “Perfect for the teen in your life”. Sometimes a sign can trigger a customer to remember that they need to pick up something for that teen they’d forgotten about.
  6. Ask who they’re looking for and what their budget is. Make helpful suggestions
  7. Treat every order like the gift you would want to receive. Packaging it up nicely means that the customer doesn’t have to. (tip: men LOVE this part)
  8. Let customers know that you gift wrap. Make big signs, or even better, have samples of your gift wrapping! Note: when you wrap it, make sure your contact information is in the package. The recipient will love the gift and of course they want to order more, so make sure they can find you.
  9. Share your work. When you see customers engaging with your work, tell them a little about the process and/or materials, especially it involves something special or uses materials they might not recognize. For example, I make lampwork (handmade glass beads) jewelry, when I see people picking up my beads I tell them I make the beads, I don’t wait until they ask. I also have photos and a sign that explain the process. Don’t be too pushy though, let it drop if they clearly are not interested.
  10. No gossiping, complaining or whinging. While we can’t always be Suzy Sunshine it’s important to put on our happy face when dealing with people. If you are negative in your words or body language your work will be coloured with this bad feeling. Find something nice to say. Even if there’s no customers in your booth except your friend, don’t whine, voices carry and someone walking past may hear. I also never allow friends or colleagues to gripe in my booth. Keep it a happy place.
  11. Have a printed sign stating your return policy. People are buying gifts, sometimes gifts get exchanged. Buying from you is different than buying at a mall. What happens if the recipient doesn’t like it? Or it doesn’t fit?
Most important, have fun.  If you’re smiling and having fun you’ll attract people. People are customers, they give you money. And that’s fun! 

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