How Approachable Is Your Business?

How Approachable Is Your Business?

Change is hard on all of us, and there’s no exception when it comes to new customers taking a first step to do business with you. The question is, how can you make it easier for clients to get through that change so that they will do business with you. The key is to be as approachable as possible, and here are some tips to do that.

1. Your first impression counts.

When I stepped into the yoga studio, the instructor wasn’t there yet. There wasn’t anyone from the studio to greet me. (None of the customers volunteered to help me or say “hi” either.) I stood there looking and feeling stupid for at least 10 minutes. By the time the instructor greeted me, I’m sure I had a really sour look on my face!

When a customer raises their hand to do business with you, what is the first impression they’ll see? Is it friendly and inviting? Or is there any point along the way where they feel awkward? Here’s a checklist:

a. Are new clients put on hold? Is there any fumbling going on with your phone system or transferring new prospects from employee to employee?
b. Is it simple or cumbersome for clients to turn in any “new client paperwork?”
c. How are clients greeted during an office visit? What if they are early? What if they are late?
d. Is there any time where customers are made to wait?

One reason why mystery shoppers have become so popular is they can help business owners identify the awkward moments and make suggestions to change them.

2. Keep the risk of doing business with you as low as possible.

At the yoga studio, I was able to sign up and pay for one class at a time. That way, if I didn’t like them, I wasn’t out a bunch of money.

How risky is it to do business with you? Will new customers be out a lot of money if they don’t like you? Is there a really high switching cost for them to move their services to you? If there is, then keeping the risk as low as possible will help clients take the leap. Here are some ways to reduce their risk:

a. Offer a money-back guarantee.
b. Offer an initial get-to-know-you service that is lower priced than your main offering. Kind of like an appetizer before the meal.
c. Provide prospects with references in the same industry they are in. A prospect values a testimonial from someone exactly like them. When they can see you’ve had success with someone exactly like their business, it provides peace of mind.

3. Give your business a face.

People hate to do business with large, faceless organizations. So make sure your organization, whether large or small, is not faceless. Show the people who own and work in your business, especially those who serve clients. Here are a few ways how:

a. Post photos and bios of all employees on your web site.
b. When answering the phone, identify who you are: “This is Sandi.”
c. When customers are visiting your office, make a point to introduce yourself. Just that little gesture is huge when it comes to making a person feel comfortable.

How approachable is your business? Give these tips a try, and see if more prospects come your way.

2 Comments
  1. Great article, Sandi. We should all remember that a new prospect comes to us brand new, like a clean slate. Often they don’t know anything about us other than what they’ve recently heard, or some impression they got of us. We cannot assume they’re like our old clients, or our existing clients. We don’t know what kind of day they’re having or what’s weighing on their mind… we need to treat them like a special guest who, indeed, we might not ever see again.

  2. Well said, Sandi. Put me in mind of a piece I read a while back about a somewhat different process for evaluating your customers’ experience – a process that adds depth and emotion to the standard functionality map.

    I think a big part of what you are describing here is not only the practical aspects, but also the emotional impact of encountering/approaching/doing business with you…

    In my work I have keep my browser history and so was able to retrieve it for you. The article is at http://theoperationsblog.com/2011/09/how-to-map-the-emotional-customer-experience/ and a wonderful example of an “Emotional Customer Experience Map” is at http://theoperationsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/experiencemap1.pdf.

    You touched on a very important and not often addressed point. Thank you.

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