Things are competitive, and difficult at the best of times. Especially now, in this economy – and in this industry… Bringing in big sales figures is not as easy as before. In a competitive market, the common tactic to woo customers is to price yourself down. In some industries, this can really work quite well, but in the craft industry, cheap and cheerful (in my opinion) does the opposite of educating the market of the value of what we are all trying to create, and is simply not viable. So what does one do?
Here at Streetwires, we try and strive for cutting-edge design, and premium quality craftmanship in order to position ourselves in a price-bracket that translates at the end of the day to a fair wage to our artists, keeps the lights on, and attracts clients that appreciate good quality, and are able to see the value in the pricing.
One of the ways to get quality business is to offer beautiful service. Top quality relationship management means as much (sometimes more) than the actual product purchase for a client.
Here’s 7 simple tips we try to use:
Respond immediately – With email enquiries, we all know what it’s like when you contact a small business and they take 3 days to even reply back. Sometimes then, the idea you had has cooled off a bit, and you wonder how organized the company even is to deal with. If their responses take so long, will they be able to deliver on time? Is this a reflection of things? Are they even bothered… That’s why even if you reply to say ‘I will come back to you in XYZ time’, at least take the effort to do that. It will buy you more time, and keep the customer feeling important and engaged.
Show an interest – Whether it’s a big client with an event, or a small private client buying a wedding gift – they have chosen you! Make them feel special, and make the experience of dealing with you extraordinary and memorable (in a good way). Show an interest in them. Ask how the wedding went / wish them a safe trip / keep expressing how much you’d love to meet them when they fetch their order. If they feel like part of the family, chances are better they will come back one day again.
Say thank you – It’s not just about getting the order, getting paid, and getting the goods made and sent. It’s about saying thanks. Pop them a message about a week after they have taken delivery and leave them with a last ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling. Tell them it meant a lot to the artists to work on such a big project / you loved the product they designed and found it hard to part with / express how much you enjoyed dealing with them / etc. Last impressions matter as much as first impressions.
Send photos and updates – Your client is probably really excited about their order. Why not send them regular photos or updates to keep them engaged. It’s a nice little touch that costs nothing, and is also a great way to catch any feedback in time, if you’re doing a bespoke piece, and the customer wants any changes made. Simply show them that you’re just as excited as they are about their order.
Be patient – You’ll get some clients who will ask a million questions. Some all in one go, some in many separate emails, that could take up a lot of your time. Keep in mind that no-one knows your business like you do. Things that are clear to you, may not be clear to the customer at all. Remain friendly and helpful at all times. This will give your customer faith that they are making the correct decision when investing in an order with you.
Keep an eye out for other things to recommend – Perhaps their order or enquiry was quite specific, or had a theme. Try and store that in the spot in your memory that will be prompted each time you see a new product that fits the brief. Maybe they wanted penguins, and you’ve recently designed a new penguin keychain. The original point of contact may have been a while back, but still send them fresh stuff. It will make them feel important, and something may catch their eye to order again.
Make your client the hero – A lot of clients that you deal with will possibly be ‘middle people’, or ‘messengers’ – either sourcing for a client of theirs, or a frantic PA trying to find a solution for their boss’ impossible request. Maybe they have been let down by another producer, and now need something in a big hurry before there is the disaster of being empty-handed for an event or such… Help them as much as possible to be the hero in the situation, so they can go back and present a solution that ticks all the boxes, and makes their client / boss think they are amazing. If you can do this, you’ll have an ally for life.
To sum up, think of all the times you have been made to feel extraordinary when you have been a client. Consider the touch points that you liked, and that made you feel great. Find ways to ‘pay that forward’ with your own clients, and you’re bound to make them happy.