COURTING CUSTOMERS is almost like courting a mate. I claim they’re identical, except the attraction to the opposite sex and procreation is even stronger than the desire to shop (at least for some of us).
Since they are so similar, I took eHarmony’s “The Twelve New Rules of Dating” and turned them into “The Twelve New Rules of Shopping.”
Let’s go through these 12 dating rules and apply them to your retail store. Let's see if you're out of practice:
1. No more waiting game. Immediacy is what’s new. If your new custo-mate hasn’t come back in three weeks, he (or she) likely won’t. Reach out to him the day after his visit with an invitation to return to your store. Did you capture his email or phone number while he was there? Calling right away after the first date is how to build a long-term relationship.
2. Be familiar with modern modes of communication. Texting is big in the dating scene. Have you ever thought of texting your better customers with a personalized note? It’s more intimate than an e-blast or snail-mail flyer (cheaper, too). Posting pics (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) of your customers is another way to impress your audience, or at least make them jealous of all the fun you are having without them.
3. Be careful what you share online. We all know one bad post can ruin your day — or year. Stay professional. Assume plenty of prospective custo-mates are judging you by how you behave online. Fun, creative and professional pics, posts or videos always outweigh dull, boring and sleazy ones. Shorter, more frequent online activities are always better.
4. Ethnic barriers matter less than ever. Let’s expand ethnic to include other races and creeds of machine preferences. Riders are curious about one another’s machines, gear and culture. We want to understand the weird connection between Gold Wings and stuffed animals, or café racers and clip-ons. Bring us together occasionally so we can learn and expand our powersports horizons. Some may even cross-over to another “ethnic machine” and buy it from you.
5. Your past is always your present. You will be Googled or Yelped before your custo-mate ever walks in your front door. If you have a bad review somewhere, be prepared to overcome the objection, even though it’s not part of the initial conversation. If you are heavily reviewed on the positive side for service, special events and people skills, then prove it on the showroom floor when a new customer walks in unannounced. BTW: Aren’t they all unannounced?
6. Play coy at your own risk. Shopping choices are everywhere in our lives. You are only one of them, so if you like someone you had better let them know quickly (see No. 1). Custo-mates always prefer family or friends when it comes to building longer-term relationships. If you are only known for low prices, then you have a lot more competition out there — and you are racing toward the bottom of customer service. (Continued)