When a customer chooses to work with your company, you should strive to make their entire buying experience a positive one. After all, you’d like them to return for additional purchases and tell other potential buyers about your business. Okay, maybe that was obvious – but here are some tips to improve your customers’ experience that may not be so obvious. Let’s “see” the entire transaction from their point of view – from the outside looking in.

Put yourself in their shoes. A friend in the event planning business once shared an enormously helpful tip with me: mentally walk through the entire event like an attendee would. Think about the parking; is it clear to the attendee where to park? Consider signage; is the entrance easy to locate? Don’t forget peripheral areas like the restrooms or registration table, as those can be branded as well. This mental walk-through is applicable to all businesses. When you go to work, stop to look around as you enter the parking lot. Is the entrance welcoming? Are the grounds tidy? When you walk in the door, who greets you? Consider every touchpoint of your business and how the customer will experience it – from start to finish.

Be responsive. Answer your company phone within three rings. The person answering should be pleasant, with the sound of a smile in their voice and a quick greeting. Customers do not want to hear your 15-second version of “hello.” If you use a phone system, set it to answer on the first ring. Respond to emails the same day whenever possible. Even if you don’t have the answer to their question, simply respond to let them know you are working on it. Responses put people at ease.

Prototype your way to success. I call this the power of suggestion. For example, if you are trying to close a sale on developing a website for a client, take time to create the home page for them. Use their logo and match the site to existing marketing pieces. If you’re designing a new can for a drink, have a prototype made. Get as close to the finished product as possible. If the sale has already been made, show proofs along the way so your customer can see what their finished piece will look like. This provides confidence that the job will be done correctly and shows the progress in completing the product on time to avoid costly errors.

Establish and manage expectations. Don’t be vague regarding time. ASAP means different things to different customers. Establish deadlines when the order is placed and strive to beat it. If some­thing arises that will push the deadline, communicate to your customer immediately. Customers know that problems happen. They appreciate honesty and dependability. Update them on progress whenever possible.

We’ve all heard that old adage “the customer is always right.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, you will benefit from framing the transaction as a buying process rather than a selling process. When you think about it as a buying process, you consider it from the customer’s point of view rather than your own. This perspective will help you fine tune your customer’s experience. Remember that customers want to buy rather than be sold.

Cindy Burri

Cindy Burri is the CEO of Western Robidoux Inc., a full-service commercial printer in St. Joseph, Missouri. WRI specializes in high-quality printed materials, adding value to all forms of client communications and dedicated personal service with extreme attention to detail. Western Robidoux has been in continuous operation since the late 1800s. Services include graphic design, product photogra¬phy, offset printing, digital printing, large format printing, banners and signs, trade show graphics, bindery/finishing, mailing services, product/literature fulfillment and rebate programs.