Author: Cassie Gasaway
Keeping customers happy is a year-round obligation for a thriving business, but it’s more difficult during the busy season for two reasons. Customers are in a rush before the season starts and manufacturers have slower turnaround times because of high customer demands.
Korbin Williams, owner of Korbin’s Archery in Seminole, Texas, feels the stress of both situations but said it’s possible to navigate customer satisfaction during peak traffic months. All it takes is diligence, thought and effort. Use these six strategies to keep your customers happy this busy season.
Give your customers a realistic timeline for any work orders. Photo Credit: John Hafner
According to Williams, effective communication keeps customers happy, plain and simple. “The only time we have them get frustrated is when we failed to communicate,” he said. Here are the four main things Williams and his team do to communicate effectively.
- Greet Customers
When a prospective buyer walks in, say hello, introduce yourself, and ask why they’re there. Then, listen to their response and point them in the right direction or assist as needed. The initial interaction ensures customers feel welcome and acknowledged, which sets the stage for a positive shopping experience. “A greeting lets customers know we are here for you,” Williams said.
- Be Honest About Expectations
“Don’t try to make (customers) happy by saying something you think they want to hear,” Williams said. Doing so creates problems later. Instead, be honest. Tell them how much time they can spend with you in the shop or range. Spending too much time with one customer can cause a customer logjam. Set up a follow-up appointment if they need more assistance. Also, give customers a realistic completion date for their requested work and honor your word. Ensure they understand the timeline by having them sign a work order.
- Provide Work Order Updates
Williams has his team call customers with an outstanding work order every Friday to provide an update. He said this process is more efficient than having customers call in throughout the week to check on their orders, which interrupts other workflows. It also eases customer concerns about their order status.
- Contact Customers Upon Completion
“The second it’s done, we give the customer a phone call,” Williams said. “Customers should be communicated with enough to know when their bow is ready. If you have someone call you to ask if their bow is done, you failed on your end with communications.” Don’t delay in giving customers what they want. Notify them about their work order ASAP.
2. Offer Water and Snacks
Meet their basic needs by satisfying their stomach. Korbin’s Archery has water available all the time and offers coffee on Friday and Saturday mornings. However, Williams doesn’t push the coffee because he knows caffeine heightens the likelihood of stress and anxiety. His team also offers granola bars and snacks to help customers focus if they plan to work with them for a long time. The snacks aren’t out for nonpaying customers.
Additionally, if a family comes in but only one person needs assistance, Williams tells the other family members how long the interaction will take and sometimes encourages them to go for a bite to eat. Williams said this frees up space in the shop, allows the individual to focus and sets the family free to do something more enjoyable.
3. Provide a Lounge Space
After getting slammed on the weekends and seeing customers stand around as they waited their turn, Williams put in two couches and a TV that plays top outdoor shows. He said the area helps relax and entertain customers waiting for their turn.
4. Provide a Kids’ Entertainment Center
Korbin’s Archery has a room for kids, too. It has toys, play stuff and a TV set to YouTube Kids. “If you have a kid and you’re in a store trying to manage them, it’s stressful,” Williams said. “We have spaces that allow customers to escape the crazy. There’s nothing that can be broken in there. Kids can go in there to play, so the parents aren’t stressed out while they shop.”
Offer a rush option for an additional fee. Photo Credit: John Hafner
5. Offer a Rush Fee
If people want to jump the line and skip the wait at Korbin’s Archery, they can pay a $150 rush fee on top of the $100 per hour labor rate. “I don’t prioritize something or someone unless they’re paying appropriately for my time,” Williams said. The concept is like spending more to be TSA approved at the airport. Some customers don’t mind the additional expenses. Others feel more comfortable waiting. Regardless, having a fee allows an individual to get immediate attention without angering other customers who are patiently waiting.
6. Leverage Industry Relationships
As a backup option, if Williams is waiting on a part or product and is working with a demanding customer, he’ll sometimes call his sales representative for a favor or ask to buy the object from his competitor. He said industry connections are important if you get in a bad bind, but these relationships shouldn’t be taken advantage of, so he uses this approach sparingly.
Handling Upset Customers
If you have an unhappy customer, you’ll know it by their tone and body language. Williams stays calm, talks through the situation and expresses that his team is doing their best. If that’s not good enough and the customer leaves, he doesn’t stress about it. However, he does meet with his team to discuss what went wrong and how they can correct it to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Being honest and honoring your word goes a long way in customer satisfaction. Always communicate and update customers on their work order to alleviate stress and put a smile on their face.