Creating Lifelong Customers
Customer Experience Matters
Creating Lifelong Customers
Walt Disney World has mastered the concept of customer experience, from the smells, to the doorknobs, to the balloon sellers. People have an emotional connection to Disney World. You get terrific service. There’s a personality. Customer Experience really matters in all types of custom apparel business too; custom tshirt printing, embroidery businesses and bling.
What can we do to create lifelong customers? Because there’s a huge effect that keeps customers keep coming back, or doesn’t. Customer experience is the experience they have when they deal with your company. It’s not just customer service. Customer service is taking care of their issues. Customer experience is how they feel throughout the process.
When you go into retail stores or a local shop, you’re going to have a consistent service – one that you’ve come to expect. For example: Abercrombie & Fitch, you expect that a 20 something will be helping you, and they have a certain personality that matches the brand. If an older gentleman in a suit greeted you, you’d feel a disconnect.
In the clothing and apparel business there tends to be two different types of personalities. Something very professional, things are crisp, clear, and may have a corporate feel. Another is a home-based business feel.
You have to decide on the personality of the shop. And if you’re a one-person show, that personality is you. So when you’re determining what your customer experience is personify your business – think about it as a person. What do you want them to be like? Edgy, cool, funny, hip, nerdy, professional, etc. Make sure every step of your business aligns to that personality. Keep it consistent. A fake personality that doesn’t reflect your business is hard to maintain. And if you are not true to your personality it will show up as a failure in communication or expectation later on. Customers want to have an authentic relationship with a business. If you’re consistent and authentic the people who gravitate towards you will be lifelong customers.
So where do you add your personality into your business?
Initial Call or Contact with Customers
How are customers going to experience their initial contact with you?
Too often you talk to someone on the phone and you have a good connection with them, and then you go to their website, and the website is terrible and doesn’t match their personality at all. The website must reflect the personality of your business. If you want a professional image your website needs to be polished. Sometimes if you’re a home-based business, all you’ll need is your Facebook page, because you can have pictures of your kids and pets on there.
How do you answer the phone? Do you have a specific greeting you want to use every time? Match it to your business’ personality.
Same thing with your store front. Signage and location all are part of your business’ image. People will make judgement calls really quickly, so you want them to make the connection between how you want your business to be perceived.
Taking an Order
This is the first step where businesses start to fail.
When taking an order it should be easy, comforting, non-obtrusive. It shouldn’t be hard for the customer to make the order, whether it’s online or over the phone. They shouldn’t abandon the order part way through. They want to give you money, you want to take their order, how can you make it as easy as possible? Don’t confuse a casual personality with skipping steps or leaving things out or be unprofessional. For example if you take an order over the phone, you can be casual and make it easy for them, but then send them a confirmation email, to make sure that’s all correct, and so that all the expectations are in writing. And then ask them to review the email and give their confirmation that everything is correct, before you get started.
Progress Report & Issues
Make sure your customer knows what’s going on.
So they know when to expect the product, that you’re working on it, and that everything is on pace, especially if it’s an order that’s going to take a few days to complete and is a bit larger. For example 500 shirts that the company needs by a specific date for an event. Send them an email letting them know that everything is on pace. This takes away any anxiety the person who made the order
How do you handle issues? If something doesn’t arrive on time, let them, but also let them know how you’re going to fix it. This can help you triage other issues. For example if your supplier sends you the wrong shirts, and can get you the correct order in a day or two, call your customer and let them know what happened, and that you should be on pace, but ask if it’s okay if you’re little bit late because of the mix up. And they might need the shirts on the original day they requested, but they might be flexible. Or if the shirt they want isn’t available, perhaps there’s a substitution you can offer, and find out if that’s okay. This way you’re averting the crisis rather than not telling them what’s going on and not delivering when you said you would.
Some of our best customers are ones that had serious issues, but we’ve taken care of them wonderfully, and the experience becomes so good they’ve become advocates for our company.
Filling the Order
This is the act of creating the shirts, and doing the best job you can.
The quality of the garment is vitally important. Check everything before you pack it up. Does it meet the standards of your company, and the personality you want to present to your customers?
How are you going to package your product?
Perhaps you’re a really professional company and you have a 10-point quality control checklist of the product. You check everything off, have someone sign off on it, and you put that in the top of the box. Or if you’re a home-based business you have something a little more personal and handwritten.
Scale it to fit your personality. There’s a ton of little things you can do that will cost you next to nothing in terms of time and money that will step up their experience with your company.
Here are a few ideas:
- A hand written thank you card
- Putting all the same sizes together in order, and perhaps put a paper divider between each of the sizes
- Individually box the sizes
- Caps are neatly stacked into each other
- Fold shirts nicely all the same way
- Include another brochure
- Put a candy, cookie, or a prize in the box (if that matches your personality)
- Get tape with your logo on it to tape up the box
- Individually bag the shirts
- Write a note on the outside of the box
Spent the money, time, and care to make sure the delivery get to the customer.
Communicate with the customer on how the delivery is going to work. Is it going to be delivered to their door (is it by mail, or are you personally delivering it), do they need to pick it up? Do this at the beginning when you’re taking their order. Confirm how they want it shipped. And if you’re dealing with local customers we highly recommend delivering it in person. It lets you interact with them. And have your delivery appearance match the personality of your business.
By this time you’ve cemented the perception the customer has of you and your business.
Referrals and Follow Up
People are more willing to share a good story that’s more than just the shirts they got. It’s about the whole experience.
After you’ve made the delivery, maybe 5-10 days later, give them a call, send them an email, or a card (based on what your customer experience is designed to be) and find out what they thought, how their shirts turned out. Whether it’s a quick “Hey how’d they turn out?” or a few questions on a survey. The follow-up not only helps them remember who you are and what happened, but that you’ll get their business again in the future. If they’re upset, it’s a great opportunity, because if you didn’t call them up you’d never hear from them again and never have an opportunity to take care of the situation, and turn them around.
Doing all these things will help yield long-term growth for your business. And every time you do something, review it in a few months, and see how you can improve the service.
- Join us on Facebook: Custom Apparel Startups
- Listen to more postcasts: caspodcast.com
- Watch some sales and business webinars: caswebinars.com
- Learn more about Rhinestone Machines, Embroidery machines, Direct to Garment Printing and more at http://coldesi.wpengine.com
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