Guest post by Sarah Hedayati (learn more about Sarah at the end of this post)
When you go into a business, what’s more important to you: price or the experience that takes place? While you may be thinking, “I lean toward experience, but it won’t matter if the price is beyond what I can afford.” There is a line that separates price from experience. In general, most people will pay a bit above their budget for a positive buying experience.
If you’re loyal to a company, chances are you will pay a little more for something you could probably find cheaper somewhere else.
How do customers become loyal?
Customers may come into your business for a generic product or service, and it’s what happens while they are there that can shape their loyalty. I’m sure you can think of a time you went into a store and left with your expectations exceeded.
I went wine tasting at Vina Robles in Paso Robles, California where I had an outstanding customer experience. The tasting room worker went above and beyond to create an experience I still talk about today. Ironically, the employee didn’t normally work in the tasting room, but was filling in for someone else. He was friendly, but not pushy. He offered us additional tastings not listed and made us feel like we were getting special treatment. His attentiveness, friendly manner, and ability to tailor the tasting to our individual group made us loyal customers. We not only bought several bottles of wine from him, we joined their mailing list! We probably spent more money than anticipated, but the experience the worker created made us want to invest in the company. Our expectations were exceeded, and from that point on we were loyal customers.
How do you create a lasting customer experience?
Hire a knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly staff eager to learn how to constantly improve the experiences they provide. You have to understand, every interaction you have with a customer is not going to lead to loyalty. You don’t have control over the way the customer responds, so work with your staff to create the best experience possible for each customer.
Training can help. Train your employees to greet each customer (in person or over the phone) politely and offer assistance. Attentiveness will go far. Also, train your employees to have the knowledge and ability to deliver negative news. If they can’t provide the customer with the product or service they want, they need to learn how to shift the conversation to focus on the positive. Let your customer know what you can do to assist them.
Why should you focus on experience?
When customers leave feeling happy and their expectations exceeded, they tell other people. A lasting customer experience will not only land you word-of-mouth publicity, but also a group of loyal repeat customers.
Tying it back to my experience at Vina Robles, I brought a whole group of friends back to their tasting room for a birthday party. I brought them revenue as well as a whole new group they could meet and possibly win over as loyal customers.
A lasting customer experience definitely outweighs price. Remember the importance of a happy customer, and be sure to train your employees to provide the best service and experience possible.
About the Author: Sarah Hedayati is a Customer Experience Professional for Impact Learning Systems, a provider of customer service certification. She is an advocate for providing customers the best experience possible. Impact Learning Systems is an international customer service training organization that creates breakthrough improvement in the performance of sales, service, and support staff. Visit http://www.impactlearning.com to learn more!