In any given industry, customers have a plethora of businesses from which to choose.  When they finally do make that choice, they are doing so because the business offers something they want.  As a small business owner or direct seller, you have the advantage of catering to many different types of customers, so finding out what they want is essential to building your business.  Read on for some suggestions.

1. High quality products/services – In these tough economic times, making the decision to spend any amount of hard-earned money is a serious one for lots of people.  Nobody wants to put money out for something that is poorly made or not performed correctly.  Make sure what you are offering your customer is something that you would feel good about purchasing yourself.

2. Friendliness – Odds are that you already enjoy interacting and socializing with your customers; this is a quality that it priceless in small business.  Customers want to interact with others who are friendly, courteous, considerate, and generally pleasant to be around.  Show them that you value them above any sale.

3. Convenience – It seems that people’s everyday lives are getting busier and busier.  Implement convenience measures into your business model that work for both you and your customers.  Can they find product information and complete orders on your website?  If there is a problem with a purchase, can they easily contact someone who will resolve the issue?  Make their shopping experience not only a positive one, but an easier one as well.

4. Knowledgeable staff – If you employ others who have regular customer contact, they should be thoroughly trained in all products/services offered and any purchasing policies that may be in place.  Many potential customers do their own research before they buy, but often the tipping point is in the answers that can be acquired from a real live person in the business.  For example, before purchasing a new camcorder to capture videos of the new baby, first-time parents might spend a good amount of time online researching the different features, prices, and reviews of various products.  However, they will usually decide exactly which one to buy and where to buy it based on how well the staff can answer their questions and help guide them in the right direction to suit their needs.

5. The right to change their minds – For whatever reason, sometimes a purchase just wasn’t the right one for that person.  When that happens, how do you react as a business owner?  Make it a core value of your business that customers should leave happy with how any problems have been handled.  Sometimes this even means going above and beyond the norm.  If a customer needs to return or exchange an item, find out what the concern is and help them select something that might be better suited to meeting a need.  Furthermore, the process of resolving any issues should be as painless as possible; when a customer sees you doing everything in your power to give them a good shopping experience, they will appreciate it, remember it, and continue to come back. 

It’s never possible to please everyone all the time, but by incorporating some basic elements of customer satisfaction into your business, you will be able to attract and retain customers.  What have you found to be the wants of your customers?  Please share with us in the comments below!

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