Slightly advanced, and all-too-often forgotten, rules for romancing your current customer

After Tuesday’s post in praise of handholding, a few more tips on how, exactly, to make your customer feel like you are their guide through the Experience of working with you:

1. Simplify. Use smaller words. Use fewer words. Use words you hear your customers using.

2. Relate it to your customer’s life. What do you do for a living, sir? Ah, yes. I hear our moustache wax is all the rage in the music department of your university. If you give it a try now, I’ll bet you’ll be the first professor in the art department to get on the bandwagon!

3. Never talk down. Your customer isn’t slow or stupid just because he or she isn’t at your level. Even if you make the sale because they need you right now, they’ll march right home to find out what their alternatives were. No matter how bad the need for your widget next time, they’ll be prepared. They’ll never buy from you again or recommend you to a friend. End of that customer’s lifetime value.

4. Write it out. Some folks will never retain all you say, no matter how friendly and helpful you are (ME!!). I wish every doctor, mechanic, attorney, garden center, plumber… heck, I wish everyone had handouts for their more complicated issues. Just write it like you explain it, and even if it’s as simple as a Word document you make into an online pdf for your website and a one-page printout for in-person customers, your buyers will be so grateful later when they’re trying to remember what you told them about the sump pump repairs you just scheduled them for.

5. Smile. New purchases are stressful. A smile from you goes a long way, and too many people forget that.  🙂

6. Change your pace. Roll along for a couple of minutes, story-style. Then explain a few things in a shorter style with plenty of pauses, visuals if possible, and questions. It helps people pay attention.

7. Involve the customer’s kids. Why? Because the parents will love you forever. Because kids sometimes have more than you know to say about the final purchase. Because most other companies don’t involve them, or worse, act like the kids are a nuisance. Because sometimes they remember a point that the parent forgot, later on. (What? I never have to ask The Kid what someone just said to me because I stopped listening after we got to the price. That never happens to me.)

8. Break it down. Whatever you do or sell, there is a way that you can break it down into steps, or segments.

Use this breakdown either to slow yourself down when explaining what you do: First, this. Any questions? Then, this. Because this. Make sense?

Or to sell to folks who aren’t sure about the whole: You don’t have to buy the whole meal or nothing, sir. Simply buy the burger if that suits you.

Like fries with that?

9. I don’t have to remind you to treat the ladies the same as the men, do I? No, not you. But pass this along, because somehow this basic point is one lots of companies STILL miss.

The advanced version of this point:

I have a mechanic who is so determined to treat me the same as the dudes, that she races through her explanation of valves blah-blah-blah with me, just the same as she does with the men. (One result, according to male friends who also go there, is that nobody fully understands her—we’re all getting a lot further away from the days of fixing our own cars.) Treating everyone with the same respect does not mean assuming everyone took shop class like you did, so back to steps 1–8 for you if you’ve been misunderstanding how to apply this handholding tip.

10. Ask questions. Not “Do you have any questions,” because mostly we don’t know about the thing we should be asking about. So we say No.

Instead, try, “Have you ever run into [common thing everyone calls you about three days after the sale]? Here’s how you’ll handle that…” and similar questions about how they may use your product so you can give tips on how to get the best out of it. Often, buyers only use a quarter of the features of a new purchase because they don’t know about the other 3/4! Be like an in-person FAQs.

BONUS: It’s not as personal as the rest of these handholding tips, but keep in mind that your FAQs page online should contain (gasp!) actual Frequently Asked Questions. I know the temptation is to make FAQs into one more sales page (and it should be that, in part). The relief a customer feels at 3am, when their question about their new but non-functioning whatsis is answered on your FAQs page, builds tremendous good will—and saves you the angry call a few hours later when you open for business.

This sort of handholding is great for helping to make the sale, but it’s even better (and more unexpected) after you’ve made the sale. The time to cement that lifetime customer value is during the process of working with you, or during the honeymoon phase with your product.

Got a tip to share? How do you hold your customer’s hand, and make the process of working with you seem more comfortable?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson