As a small business owner and/or direct seller, you have a significant advantage over the ubiquitous “big-box” stores. You can offer personalized customer service, which is something that bigger businesses simply cannot do. These days, most shoppers are so used to being just one of many in a retail atmosphere, so they can truly appreciate the extra effort a small business owner or direct seller puts forth in making them feel like valued customers. Here are some ways to personalize your business and give you an edge over your competitors.
- Gift wrapping for special occasions – This can be especially helpful during the winter holiday season, but is a valuable service year-round. In any given month, a customer has to shop for someone’s birthday, graduation, baby shower, etc. and a free or inexpensive gift wrapping service adds to the convenience factor. It also shows that you are thinking of the customer’s complete needs, which don’t necessarily end once he or she has purchased your product.
- Pick-a-day promotions and incentives – Several retail chains offer an automatic discount (10-20%) when you shop on a certain day of the week. Why not let your customers choose a day that works for them? Using a simple program like Microsoft Access, you can store such information for each customer. Furthermore, you can certainly set limitations on such a promotion, such as weekdays only or one Saturday only per month. No matter how you arrange it, you are offering your clientele the freedom and ease to shop their way, all the while rewarding them for choosing your business over others.
- Suggested items – Another use for that database program of yours is to keep track of exactly what products or services your customers have purchased. After a few transactions have been completed, you can begin suggesting new or existing items that they might be interested in based on those past purchases. This is a great way to begin building a relationship with customers that they cannot get elsewhere.
- Door to door delivery – A service like this adds great convenience and that very personal touch. If you have customers in your local area, offer a door to door delivery option. It gives you chance to wow your customer, to meet and connect with another potential customer on the other end.
- Surprise your loyal customer – Once in a while, surprise one of your loyal customer with a balloon/flower and a free gift. This shows you are thinking about them and is a great way to brighten their day. It also gives you an opportunity to connect and check if they need anything else.
- Support their causes – This is an incredible relationship builder. Let your customers know that your business has a heart and is willing to provide help for their charities. Either with your personal time and/or in discounts, products and services.
- Follow-ups – Nothing says customer service like a human being on the other end of the telephone, which, unfortunately, is becoming less and less common. After a customer has done business with you, a quick phone call to verify their satisfaction can go a long way. There may have been something they didn’t like, but didn’t feel it was worth it to say something about; now you’re giving them the opportunity to do so, as well as offering to make it right. On the plus side, it never hurts to hear when you’ve done a good job and made a customer happy from the get-go.
When striving to personalize your business, put yourself in the role of your customer. Think about your past experiences as a consumer, good and bad. What can you do as a business owner to prevent poor-quality experiences and encourage excellent ones? Share your thoughts in the comments below!