Want To Boost Your Customer Numbers?
Engage with every customer & treat them like a 'guest' visiting your home.
Written by Robert Viney
I am certain that if you greeted a visitor into your home, you would be courteous, polite and friendly.
Am I correct?
When an existing or potential customer visits your business, do you extend the same courtesy?
I would hope you would.
But if you do, I think, quite possibly, you could be in the minority.
Many Businesses Do Not Treat Their Customers As Guests
In my experience, many businesses do not do this.
And, sadly, these businesses are missing out on new customers, more sales and more profits, as a result, and they cannot see it.
A Sure Way To Grow Your Customer Numbers Is To Engage
A sure way to grow your business customers, sales and profits is to put yourself out and to engage with everyone who comes into contact with your business.
Then, over time, many of these people could be converted into paying customers.
Convert Guests Into Customers
I know, for certain, that this works.
For more than 30 years, I have practiced making people feel like ‘guests’ and I have been able to convert many of these into paying customers.
In all my businesses, it has never failed to work.
I Often See Businesses Not Engaging
Constantly, I see businesses not engaging sufficiently.
Let’s look at the retail trade …
I am continually disappointed by the reception that I get when I visit high street shops.
It does not matter where I am, I often get the same reception … or the lack of reception.
More often than not, there is no engagement from the staff or owners of these shops.
Not even an acknowledgement!
I Expect This In Larger Shops
Sadly, I expect it in larger shops owned by large chains, but I often see the same action from smaller independent shops when the owner is present.
So many make no effort to engage, not even a “Hello” or even ‘eye contact’
I take that as being very rude and this action can make it uncomfortable for the customer to be in the shop.
I certainly don’t feel like a ‘guest’
For me, my thought is often this:
“If the owner cannot be bothered to engage, then I cannot be bothered to browse their shop and spend my money”
So, I leave the shop and I know many of my friends and associates feel and do the same!
Have you had this experience too?
These businesses are losing potential customers and sales and they cannot see it.
I Have Worked In Retail Most Of My Working Life
I have worked in retail most of my working life – I have run public houses and high street shops - and engaging with customers has been easy for me.
When a customer is in front of me, making eye contact, saying “hello and welcome” is a spontaneous reaction.
I have always felt not to talk is VERY RUDE.
I Have Always Made The Effort To Talk
I have always made the effort to talk to them.
It does not have to be a long conversation, just a few words to make the customer feel welcome.
I have treated them as if they were a guest in my own home.
Most Customers Want To Be Welcomed
Most customers just want to be acknowledged with a nice “Hello” to break the ice.
Surely, in that situation, there is really no excuse on the part of the business owner or employee not to engage when the customer is just a few feet in front of them.
No engagement is very rude!
No engagement is ruining businesses and losing business owners customers, sales and profits.
No wonder the High Street is dying!
It Does Not Have To Be A Long Chat
The skill of the retailer is knowing whether the customer wants to just a quick “Hello” and a short chat or whether the customer wants a longer chat.
Not all customers are the same, but all customers deserve the courtesy and politeness of at least being acknowledged.
I See Poor Engagement Everywhere
It is not just retail businesses where I see little engagement, it is everywhere.
There is the telephone …
I have had more poor experiences than good ones, here.
Many times, I have experienced an unhelpful person on the other end of a telephone line, who keeps engagement to the minimum, making me feel they don’t really want my business.
Have you had this experience too?
I am sure you have.
The good telephone operative should be able to make a potential customer feel like a ‘guest’ by making them feel welcome to ‘visit’ their business, even though it is on a telephone line.
I See It Online Too
Online offerings from businesses can be similar.
The customer’s journey starts much earlier than it used to before the internet came along.
85% of customers will view a company’s website and their social media output and read their customer reviews, etc before buying from the customer.
But Many Are Not User Friendly
But, too often, the online offerings, such as their website or social media sites are not user friendly or are sparse on detail and don’t draw visitors into their businesses.
Half of businesses still don’t have websites (incredibly) and many of those that do have a website, do not seem to prioritise them by regularly updating them and making them easy to use.
Social Media is a great platform to engage with people before and after they buy, and many businesses are not taking advantage this great facility - much of which is free to use.
Many Are Out Of Date
I often see websites and social media output that are not regularly updated.
One bad practice for social media is what I call ‘post & go’ – here a piece of content is posted about their business and then the business owner disappears, often ignoring corresponding comments and questions or not responding quickly to them.
That is no way to engage and this poor level of engagement puts people off the brand.
People Should Be Made To Feel Like ‘Guests’ On Line, too
When someone visits the online offering for a business, they should be made to feel welcome and again be made to feel like a ‘guest’ – but sadly many don’t.
If a visitor feels like a ‘guest’, they are more likely to stay on a website or a social media platform and have a good look at what is offered and be tempted to make contact or buy.
Some Businesses Try To Sell Too Hard
Other businesses make the mistake of posting content that tries to sell sell rather than educate on their Social Media accounts.
These businesses do not realise that customers want to learn about the products and the business selling them before they consider purchasing.
People do NOT want to be sold to
All target customers want to learn about a business, its products and the benefits that can be experienced.
And, they all want this before they buy.
People Want To Learn About The People Behind A Business
Furthermore, people want to learn about the people who own and run the business.
If social media marketing is done right, it is very possible to gain an insight into the personalities of the owners and the culture of the business.
All of which can influence a purchase.
Engagement Does Work
Not all businesses are poor at engagement.
Many do it very well, some incredibly well, but sadly, from my observations, such businesses are in the minority.
But, I know with great certainty that the businesses that engage and talk well to their customers, always achieve higher sales and profits.
Why Does Engagement Work?
The reason engagement works is very simple.
People Buy People!
A person is more likely to buy from a business if they know and like the people who own and run it.
It is basic psychology.
When a customer likes the people behind a business, they will buy more of their products, be loyal to their brand and they are more likely to tell others about that business.
Conversely, though, when people feel no affinity for a business, its brand and its products, they do not buy.
I Ran A Delicatessen Business For 12 Years
For 12 years I ran two very successful delicatessens/sandwich shops in Torbay. Myself and my employees engaged with all visitors and customers to the shops.
I say ‘visitors to the shops’ as I was not bothered if people entering the shops bought. Everyone received a nice greeting and each was made to feel welcome and, importantly, there was no pressure to buy.
Each visitor was made to feel like a ‘guest’
My philosophy was simple:
Get to know people through engagement and then build up a relationship with them rather than try to sell to them.
On average, 8 out of 10 people always returned to buy eventually.
And, when they did buy, we were always keen to thank them and to engage further, encouraging them to return and, I am very pleased to say, most did.
In this way, we were able to build up a huge army of loyal customers who returned to buy more and more.
Businesses That Engage Are Busier
Any business whether, retail, non-retail or online that adopts this same procedure of engagement are always busier with larger numbers of customers and sales.
It always works, if done right.
For Your Business, Set A Deliberate Strategy To Make People Feel Like ‘Guests’
If you don’t have a strategy of engagement now, set yourself one now to create greater engagement and make your customers and potential customers feel like ‘guests’.
One of the biggest tips that I can give you is to think about how you interact and engage with your customers:
Before a purchase
During a purchase
After a purchase
Look at all the contact points between your business and your customer - even make a list of each contact point and critically analyse how you and your employees engage and interact.
Whether a contact point is direct or indirect engagement with your target customer, review this contact point.
Does it make your target customer feel welcome and comfortable within your business?
Does it make them feel like a ‘guest’?
Look at your website and social media channels and ask yourself if you sell too hard.
Do you educate or sell?
Ask yourself if you provide enough information about your products or services to enable the potential customer to make an informed decision about buying.
Will your potential customer understand everything that they need to know before they buy and is this information easily accessible and presented well?
80% Education To 20% Selling
I think, from experience, an average ratio of 80% education and 20% selling is a good ratio that can be very effective.
Try to adopt this ratio in your engagement.
Think How You Can Develop Long Term Relationships
This approach has successfully created thousands of long-term relationships with my customers and these relationships have been a large contributor to me being able to build up an army of loyal customers with each returning to buy more from my businesses, time and time again.
You can do the same.