Being an Invisible Customer
While retail may have changed the way in which they operate during the pandemic, the ability to extend customer service (or not) has largely remained unchanged. There is some historical context that’s important to address when speaking of the invisible customer. No this is not the part where I tell you that I've always had piss poor customer service. In fact, I've had some great relationships with sales people for small and large purchases. I've noticed when the relationship is good, it's all good. When the customer and sales person relationship goes bad, it's all bad.
Invisible in this sense means they saw you, and they deemed your presence a lower priority than what they were doing at the time. It means that they saw you. Let that sink in. They sized you up and made a decision not to greet you or offer information and/or assistance. Was it gender, race, or otherwise related? I couldn’t tell you. Without their words or admissions, all I have had to go on is the fact that I was unequivocally ignored (even when customers walking in right after me received full attention). I have found that the higher end stores tend to connect with me less upon entry. Queue the Julia Roberts scene in the motion picture Pretty Woman, “Big Mistake!”
How many times have you as a customer felt as though you were putting a salesperson out by asking for assistance or interrupting them as they were engaged in a personal conversation with a co-worker or friend?
I can recall times I've actually said to different store clerks, who were either fully engaged in telling their co-workers about the wild party they attended over the weekend or the big fight they had with their husband, "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you have this in my size?" and have them look at me as if I had just shattered the most important moment in their life. In my best inner southern voice… “chile please!”
Have you ever had an experience like this?
Many years ago when competition was almost non-existent for many businesses, consumers accepted this type of behavior because they didn't have many options to choose from. Business owners had the upper hand and could charge the prices they wanted without having any real concern for whether or not the customer was truly satisfied or had their need fully met.
Today, competition is fierce, particularly with the power of the Internet and expanding global markets. If a consumer doesn't like the product or service, or has a bad experience, all she has to do is tuck her credit card back into her wallet (or close their phone apps) and take her pick of any number of other businesses who will gladly give her what she's looking for. She doesn't even have to leave her home if she doesn't want to! She can shop online from thousands of vendors who will gladly deliver the goods right to her doorstep. Choices mean the customer will not likely return for the sequel of a bad customer experience.
What does this new reality of conducting business mean to you as a small business owner or home-based entrepreneur?
It means you have to provide exceptional customer service and top quality products if you want to build long-term relationships with your clients and customers. If you have employees, it is also critical that they understand the importance of making each customer feel like a million dollar customer. It's all about the experience you provide – the feeling your customer has when doing business with you.
Get to know your customers. Find out what they're looking for and why by asking questions, then really listen to what they say. Make it a point to truly understand what it is they want to create or solve, then if you can provide a solution, offer it to them. Building a successful, profitable business is dependent on establishing long-term, loyal customers. Having to pursue new customers to replace those who are not returning can become tiring and expensive.
As you serve new and existing customers and clients, make them feel heard, seen and valued. No one likes to be invisible, especially those who are about to hand over their hard earned money. Treat every customer like a million dollar customer because when you build a long-term relationship with them, they just might very well become one.
Jennifer "drJ" Thibeaux is an American author, publisher, speaker, and entrepreneur. Leading The Thibeaux Company®, drJ hopes to impact human performance in a variety of industries. Working with executives and key influencers in Fortune 100 companies, drJ has developed a keen sense of performance in action. Earning business and education advanced degrees, drJ continues to insert intelligence into the performance conversation. Hosting and appearing on a variety of radio shows, podcasts, and other broadcast mediums, drJ has no "stop" in sight. To find out more about Jennifer "drJ" Thibeaux or products and projects from The Thibeaux Company®, be sure to visit www.Thibeaux.org.