As I was thinking about what to write this month, I had several timely experiences to share. I am in the final stages of planning a 200+ person event for a client.
I’ve watched the budget, payed attention to the menu, room and bar charges. I had someone ask me about access to a broadband internet connection. Since most buildings are wired, and even wireless, I assumed the charges for a wired connection would be minimal. Not so.
The response I received was that a wired (plugged into the wall) connection for internet access was $150 per connection. What?! I know that there is typically a charge, but $150 per connection seemed fairly costly when the hotel didn't have to do anything extra to get us connected except let us plug in.
I know there are always these types of charges, but this price point just left me feeling taken advantage of and disappointed. In the end, the hotel did offer to ‘make a deal’ if we needed a large number of connections, AND they assured me that the electrical outlets were free, provided we use our own extension cords.
In the same week, I went to buy a baby gift at a small, locally owned boutique. When I checked out, I was told that gift wrapping was included. Now, I know a plain cardboard box, ribbon and a bow aren’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but it was certainly a nice touch. And it saved me a trip to the store and a wrapping project.
But for you business owners wondering the point of my two stories, I want you to think about these things: Are you subjecting your customers to those extra little charges, or have they been pleasantly surprised by some aspect of your customer service? Are you saving your customers’ time or money? Relieving hassles?
It's important to think about what you can offer your customers that will leave them feeling that they’ve made a good purchase. You don’t have to break your budget; even a small gesture will go a long way. Here, some ideas for creative (and often easy) perks you can begin offering your customers now:
- Printing out or sending in rebate forms for items purchased
- Alterations on-site, at a reduced cost, or free
- Very easy return policies
- Offering customers additional information about the product they just purchased
- Cleaning their car when completing services
- A follow-up phone call to make sure customers are satisfied
This last point might be more important in some businesses than others; however, it is important to know if your customers are happy with you, your product or service. If they aren’t happy, what are you going to do to fix it?
Case in point: I just received a call from a former client who I did some work for with a partnering firm. Apparently, the other firm left the client with a big bill, and not much else. This left the client feeling lost and upset that he spent money and had nothing to show for it.
The fact that this other firm didn’t care when the customer told them he was unhappy is troubling to me for several reasons: I was affiliated with this project, it hurts our profession, and because I just don’t like to hear that someone was unhappy with their purchase and the seller didn’t care enough to make things right.
That also makes sales and marketing really tough for that seller down the road. Remember, most people don’t talk about their purchasing experiences when they’re great, but they’ll tell everyone about that one experience that was bad.
Do you know what your customers talking about, what you did that was exceptional or something that really disappointed them? You should.