Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Are You Consistently Losing Customers?

My first job was working for my local government. I learnt a lot in those 7 years. It was a time of education and providing the workforce with marketable skills that they could take with them and even use towards getting a degree. One such educational opportunity was the best customer service training I have ever received. Even now, some significant years later, nothing has come close to what I learnt on this course.

I will admit that I was quite young, and possibly very impressionable but this analogy has served me well through a successful sales career and onto managing banks. It just makes sense. I've shortened it over the years when using during my training sessions so I'm just going to put it out there.

Let me explain, imagine the very successful franchise who's golden arches call to the hungry traveller for a quick and easy snack.

Think of the menu, it is not 5 star cuisine that has the absolute best burger/chips/shake you will ever have the pleasure of eating. But, what it is, and why it is successful, is it is consistent in it's quality. When you order your meal of choice, you know how it is going to look, smell and taste. Each and every time it is consistently the same. To a customer, knowing what you are going to get and having that expectation met is far more important when it comes to retaining that customer and the chances of them becoming a repeat customer are increased.

So, how can this translate to you and your business? In the world of handmade it can be a fine line, consistency versus the uniqueness of handmade. While I appreciate that with handmade there are variations I believe that is about fabric placement and materials used. Not how you finish a seam or how you package your creations.

As an avid supporter of handmade and a customer I thought I would share some of the mistakes I have personally experienced and had related to me with a view to you not making those mistakes yourself.

Make sure your product description and photography accurately reflect the product you are selling.  I bought a doll quite some time ago, I was so excited to open my parcel when it arrived and so pleased that I'd scored a bargain by being on Facebook at the right time when a spot sale entered my news feed. When I opened my parcel the doll was not what I was expecting. From the front she looked exactly like I thought she would, but the back? Instead of the felt that was on the front of the head it was cotton. I even went back to check the listing to see if I had missed the important piece of information. I had not. Nowhere in the description did it mention that the dolls hair on the back was in fact cotton fabric and not felt, in fact it said the dolls hair was felt! Do you think I will every buy from this seller again? What are the odds of me actually recommending them to someone else?

Package your creation the way it deserves. I have written before on the importance of packaging and how it really is an important part of your business. What I don't think I really stressed enough was that the way you package actually sets the tone for what your customer is going to find inside. Shoving your item in a zip lock bag and then into a postage satchel speaks of a level of carelessness that has me wondering if you took the same amount of care when making what I just bought. The same can be said for beautiful packaging on an item that is actually quite sloppy in it's creation. You need to get the balance right. Don't compensate for poor workmanship by dressing up the package as if it is the highest quality item ever created.

Now, here is the big one. Be CONSISTENT! I have bought multiple items from sellers in the past, sometimes in the one sale and sometimes as a return customer. As a return customer I have an expectation of what I am receiving and the only way I will forgive you for deviating from that is if your skills have actually improved and what I get is better than what I had in the past. Being consistent in the home business especially when you add young children into the mix should be an award winning skill. You need to develop procedures for everything you do and always do everything the same. Each and every time. The only time you can change it is when you have developed a better way of doing things. This doesn't just apply to when you are creating, it also is important when you are communicating with your customers. Be consistent in your language and your tone. It's not as bad as it sounds. I'm not talking about stifling your creativity or your creative process when designing. That is and always should be organic and unique each time. I'm talking about your execution. The way you finish your paper craft. The way you finish your seams and hems. That is where you build your procedures, that is where you should be maintaining your level of quality.

Are you consistent in your business? I'd love to know what you think, join the conversation by commenting here or on my Facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. I try to be consistent and really hope that I am.


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