Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been helping my wife, Heather, navigate the details of ordering embroidered shirts for her company. “Help me out,” she said. “You know all about this stuff, right?”
While I certainly do know about many aspects — I was able to help her understand how the stitch count of her logo could affect the final price and that the fine text of her logo might not work as hoped — what I didn’t realize was how the sales process worked, and what that experience would be like.
We prefer to buy locally and utilize (when possible) the businesses in our community. Heather found a company that seemed to have what she needed, but did they? When she made an appointment to visit the company to look at soft goods first-hand, I decided to channel my inner detective by posing as her “unknowledgeable companion.” What would we find? What would the customer experience be?
The good news is that the company performed beautifully. We left with a firm belief that this was a good company with which to do business. Heather is prepared to submit her order in the next day or two. Here are a few notes on what made the visit so positive, and some lessons that can be applied to your business.
The Welcome: From the moment we walked in the door, the business was helpful. There was no waiting as we received an immediate “How can we help you?” There were table and chairs at the ready so we could consult with the company about the job at hand.
Lesson: First impressions are important. Be prepared to receive customers, whether in person, by phone or online.
The Acceptable Switch: The person we expected to meet with was not available due to interviewing a potential employee. “Uh-oh,” I thought. However, the person at the counter was so knowledgeable about soft goods, embroidery, pricing and timeframe, that the change in person really didn’t matter.
Lesson: Companies — even small ones — must have numerous people who can effectively sell, take orders and interface directly with the customer.
The Presentation of Choices: While the particular brand/model of garment had already been determined, the company rep took a few moments to make us aware of other choices that were available. While this was surely an “upsell,” there was zero pressure — we were just made aware. When we chose to stick with our original garment choice, the upsell was dropped and we moved on.
Lesson: Upselling, when done correctly, should be done with respect and tact.
Troubleshooting: The company rep determined that one color in the company logo was rather close to the color of the shirt, and explained, without condescension, how a slightly different thread color could provide a bit more visual pop (if, and only if, that was acceptable).
Lesson: These types of suggestions, when offered thoughtfully, build trust between printer and customer. Trust is good.
The Follow-up: Upon returning home, Heather sent a file of her logo to our company rep. Within 15 minutes, she received an email response with a question clarifying something about the job. Among other things, that quick response said, “Nice to meet you. We value your business. You chose the right company to work with.”
Lesson: It is deeply affirming to have a company just as interested in you after the sale as they are before the sale.
The concept of “customer experience” is increasingly being mentioned as a way for any company — regardless of size — to build customer satisfaction, maintain loyalty and keep healthier margins than the competition. But true customer experience takes work. To be effective, it needs to be built into a company’s culture. You should think of any potential customer as a “secret shopper.” They’re taking a look, but what do they see?