From buying a pair of shoes to a purchasing new car, we don’t just want to buy a product - we want to buy an experience! With so many products on the internet that we can buy, why should we make the time to go to a retail outlet to buy anything? 

The answer is because of the good feelings that you get when you go into a store in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai or a shop on Oxford Street in London to spend your money. It is all down to the ‘feel good’ experience and the ‘customer service’ that we experience as soon as we walk into a store, for we all have choices as to where we shop. 

The expensive television advertisement is not enough anymore for the sophisticated child or adult shopper. They know what they want and they know the questions that need answering and it is up to the salesperson to provide the answers but with so much competition, this is not always an easy task. 

Very often when you walk into a shop, you can see a number of shop assistants talking to each other and ignoring the customer, so that you walk away without buying. Conversely, if you are not given a moment to look around before you are pounced upon by an over-enthusiastic salesperson, that can also scare you off – I know it does for me. I like to think that there is an assistant to whom I can speak about the product for which I am looking, but without being pressured. 

It is the same with any product or service that you want to sell. Your prospective client may not wish to buy from you just at that moment, but they may do so in 3 or 6 months time.

Your role needs to be courteous and understanding and when they say ‘not now’ or ‘just looking’, they are left with an image of courtesy and understanding. That way, they may just be inclined to come back to you when the time is right for them i.e. when they have the money and inclination to buy. 

Making a good impression 

What you need to create is a professional image of good customer care that is retained by the prospective client/customer. So how can you keep your name in the forefront of your customer’s mind so that they eventually return to you with an order? If you have their email, you can keep them updated with a newsletter but not too often or they will just switch-off. 

The balance has to be reached between giving the customer relevant content, a special offer or a reminder that is of benefit to them. And in that way, they will regard you as a preferred supplier, an expert, and someone to whom they would like to do business. In time, will want to come and repay your consideration with an order. 

It’s all about ‘growing a relationship’, whether this is via the internet or in person. Either way, it is a relationship and customers/ clients need to feel comfortable and valued before they enter into any contract. 

So where does your product or service fall in the ‘customer service’ scale? 

• Do your prospective clients see you as an expert that they can trust?

• If people contact you, would they receive an immediate response or would they have to wait for days to hear back from you and by which time they will have gone elsewhere? It never ceases to amaze me the huge sums of money that are paid in advertising and marketing and then there are insufficient people to answer the phone calls.

• When customers buy from you, do you have a fool-proof back-up system that actually works when a customer has a problem and needs after-sales assistance?

• What is the lasting impression the client/ customer will remember about you after having left? 

Remember that all the advertising and PR in the world will not put you ahead of your competitors if you don’t follow-through with good customer care and after-sales service. 

So where do you think that you are on the ‘customer service’ scale? If you don’t know, then ask someone else!