Opinion

In uncertain times, be the certainty your customer needs

29 November 2016

Jonathan Winchester Shopper Anonymous
Jonathan Winchester

Brexit, Trump…it’s been an interesting year so far on every landscape. There has certainly been a lot to talk about and, whatever your views, says Jonathan Winchester, UK chief executive of customer experience consultancy Shopper Anonymous, there is no doubt that an air of uncertainty wafts through most homes, businesses and future plans

Will sterling devalue further? Will Brexit actually happen, after the recent High Court ruling? Will Trump start building his impenetrable physical wall on the southern border? These questions remain unanswered. We can speculate but we cannot know. One thing is certain; your customers will still need your products or services (hopefully) and will need to know that your relationship with them is still the same.

Although the world politics and trade deals and international relations will ultimately filter down to affect each and every one of us, for the moment your customer will still turn up hoping for the same service, the same price and the same relationship.

Reassure them. Show them you value your relationship with them and your platform for business will stay unaltered for the time being.

Look for the opportunity in the potential changes. How can you provide a safety net for your customers and provide a reason for them to come back to you?

Our six super tips for being a ‘certainty’ in your customers’ eyes:

Be consistent, especially now 

Why do people flock to McDonalds or to Les Mills classes? Because they know what they’ll get. We are creatures of habit and we expect to have our expectations met. Don’t do anything differently right now, just remain stable and consistent. 

Be excellent

Be so excellent that you bring a smile to your customers’ faces. Make them want to return and to tell their friends about you. 

Listen and be impartial

Build on your relationship with your customers and keep your opinions to yourself. If your customer feels that Donald Trump's election is a sure sign that world politics are on the demise, although you are secretly delighted, it is not really your place to argue. Nod sympathetically and utter comments of agreement, even if you don’t agree! Or if that goes against the grain, change the topic swiftly but politely. 

Be festive

With a lot of uncertainty in the air, the bah-humbuggers might be in the minority and may even resort to a willingness to partake in the festive cheer. Make sure everyone in your team is in good spirits – friendly, cheerful, optimistic and considerate. Decorate your premises, have Christmas goodies on offer and clearly advertise your opening hours.

Remember the freebie 

A gift or freebie always brings so much more value than its monetary value to a transaction. The barber where I take my son has a bowl of sweets that has become part of the haircut process. The smile on his face, and mine, at receiving a little thoughtful gift, something extra, lasts longer than the haircut. The total cost to the barber? Probably 10 pence.

Go the extra mile

A great customer relationship is more than one single transaction. Keep your customers informed through newsletters, social media, social occasions, workshops or get-togethers. Offer incentives to bring your customer back in January and create ways to encourage a long-term relationship. Perhaps follow up some transactions, ask for feedback or invite them to exclusive openings.

Stability and consistency are two qualities that the UK holds dear. Offer your customer this in abundance. Be a welcoming port in a sea of change and you may find your customer lingers longer or returns more frequently. 

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