One of the things all airlines have in common is the announcements before takeoff and after landing. Usually, pre-flight announcements include safety recommendations, the name of the captain and crew, and the duration of the flight. Upon landing, passengers are asked to stay in their seats until the plane has come to a full stop, and the captain will say something like, “we know you have a choice of airline when flying, thank you for choosing American Airlines.”
As obvious as this might sound, one of the most common traps many businesses fall into is the assumption that customer loyalty is a given. They often fail to recognize that no matter how big a company is or how long it has been in service, customers do indeed have a choice when it comes to the products and services they buy. Whether it’s an airline, a clothing store, or a restaurant, customers don’t have to choose what they don’t like. If they are not satisfied, they can go elsewhere.
For smaller enterprises with low brand recognition, especially those in the retail industry, building a stable customer base starts with an eye-catching storefront or showroom and an unforgettable experience once inside.
To do this, businesses can focus on exteriors, create a welcoming environment, and provide excellent customer service.
The Importance of Exteriors
Before someone buys from your store, they need to go into your store. No matter how innovative, artistic, or fashionable your product is, people won’t buy it if they can’t see it.
So how can standalone stores or smaller shops inside malls and departments allure people to go inside? How can they differentiate themselves from the competition? Some ideas include:
- Having a clean, welcoming environment. This is especially important for detached stores. If the grass outside is too long, cut it. Better yet, hire the services of a lawn or landscape maintenance provider. A reputable one will ensure your storefront looks beautiful, well-groomed, and enticing.
- Providing a glimpse of the inside, but not the entire cake. A great storefront generates curiosity. It makes people wonder what’s inside. As such, place something interesting for people to see something unique. If you sell clothes, don’t display a plain white shirt. Instead, select a quirky jacket, a sexy miniskirt, or an awesome pair of shades.
- Thinking carefully about visuals and fonts. Don’t use fonts that are too small, and people can’t see. Only decades-old companies like Apple and Nike can do this as everybody already knows their brand. And even they don’t do it. As for visuals, choose colors that match your brand. If your target market is millennials, pick out fun, youthful tints like yellow and green. If you are catering to a more sophisticated market, go for different minimalist colors.
- Having someone standing at the door. The right person will make a big difference. She doesn’t have to be overbearing and aggressive. Rather, a smile and a friendly outlook will make plenty of passing pedestrians go inside.
Feeling at Home
People feel most comfortable at home. Homes are our sanctuaries, our places to unwind. A store will never take its place. But it can come as a close second. So focus on the products you are selling but also be careful of where you place them. Make sure there is a natural flow to your shop, and things are easy to find.
If you are selling smartphones, place the most common phone accessories in proximity to them. If your business is clothes, the jackets should be near the shirts and the pants near the shoes. It is the natural way for most people to mix and match clothing.
Other tips include having enough light, adequate space for people to walk through, and variety.
The Power of Customer Service
Among other things, great customer service is the best type of advertising your business can have. For one, it is free. Happy customers are the best referrals as they are doing this willingly. Second, it is reliable. If your friend or relative recommends a product to you, the possibility of your trying it out is higher than if you see it in a TV commercial.
Inside a store, customer service has a friendly and attentive attitude, listening attentively and wanting to help. If your customers want to know something, don’t ignore them. Don’t tell them to ask someone else. If you don’t know the answer apologize but don’t leave it at that. Find someone who does and thank the customer for waiting. Little things go a long way. Even if your customer doesn’t buy, great customer service will leave a lasting impression, prompting him to come back.
Getting customers inside their stores is one of the biggest challenges starting businesses face. Yet, by focusing on engaging exteriors, creating a sense of homeliness, and providing exceptional customer service, your store will be on the right path to success.