Reprinted from July 1992
Did you ever ask yourself what one particular feature a customer most desires in a jewelry store? Is it the selection available? The store location? The discount?
Actually, it is none of these (regardless of what people tell you). It has been proven that people prefer to shop at stores where they feel they are well known and welcome.
People are tired of blending with the woodwork. They want to stand out, to be recognized and appreciated – they want to be known!
For many months, I patronized a local beauty shop. Each time I arrived, there was an obvious time lapse before the receptionist came to the counter to see what I wanted. Each time the same girl would look at me blankly and say, “Yes?”
I was forced to explain, “I’m Mrs. Williams. I have an appointment.”
“Oh!” She always seemed surprised. “Yes. Here it is. Just be seated for a few moments.”
Not once did this receptionist remember my name or acknowledge that I might be a preferred customer. Needless to say, I soon changed beauty salons.
When a customer comes into your store, greet her as if she were visiting royalty, the most important customer you have. Give her plenty of recognition before you attempt to sell her anything. Let her know that you are honored in helping her make a gift choice or in selecting an attractive watchband. Customers like to hold things in their hands. Unlock cases and hand your customer one item at a time while making helpful suggestions and pertinent comments about the merchandise.
Use the customer’s name frequently
The manner in which you greet a customer depends on how well you know him or her. If the customer has been in your store many times before, you will probably know the name. But don’t guess! Better to forget the name a bit than to come out with the wrong one! This blunder tells the customer that you may have remembered them, but the impression was not favorable enough for you to remember their correct name.
Some years ago, we had a customer named Mr. Tweedle. Many times he came in and one of us always said, “Hello there, Mr. Tweedle,” (like a needle). He was always rather stiff and formal, and never particularly friendly by the way. One day his neck muscles stiffened and he said, “My name’s not Tweedle as in tweedle-de-dee, its Tweedle, as in TWA-DELL!”
All I could do was stammer, “I’m so sorry Mr. Twadell!” None of us ever made this mistake again.
A man’s name is the most important thing in the world to him. Call him by name if you expect to win him over. It is rather crude to ask, “What’s the name?” because it may seem you intend to use his name to your advantage. Whenever possible, you should learn the customer’s name without arousing suspicion about your motives.
Often a customer will hand over a watch for repairs, which bears his name engraved on the back. Sometimes a previous watchmaker has inscribed the name on the back of the case. Sometimes a customer will be carrying a letter, which bears his name. If he writes a check, you will of course, have the opportunity to learn his correct name.
The same is true of credit cards. If he has a layaway ticket, or a claim check, this is another means of identification. He need not know how you learned his name, and he will stand a littler taller because you used his name in conversation.
If the customer has brought along a fellow office worker or a neighbor, he feels quite important if the clerk or jeweler calls him by his name because that suggests to the friend that he is a frequent visitor to your store and therefore an important person. Use the customer’s name frequently when dealing with him; it will make him feel special.
Express an interest in your customer – and be sincere
For many years our family used the services of a certain dentist. He was a very efficient dentist, good with his hands and his methods were quite painless. At first I considered him to be genuinely interested in our welfare, but in due time I spotted his ulterior motives. It was obvious his charges were based on our business status. He was clearly profit motivated, suggesting x-rays two or three times a year and charging prices out of proportion with the work done.
When expressing interest in your customers, be sincere about your questions. Customers can feel if you are genuinely interested in them or just looking for a “hook line” to lure them into buying.
The simplest way to be sincere is to take a genuine interest in your customers – file away bits of information back in your memory for future use. Carry regular customers in a card file and jot down little items which are important to them – perhaps daughter Mary was the homecoming queen at Tech in ’61 – then you can mention these things spontaneously to the customer at a future time.
Customers are always very pleased that you remember (or seem to remember) events that were important to them. We have a customer who patronizes our store simply because we always refer to her husband as “The Mayor.” He hasn’t been the mayor for over 20 years, but because we remember to pay him this honor, she is grateful.
Many times everyone in the store will be busy when a preferred customer arrives. Someone should always take the time to glance up, acknowledge his or her presence and invite them to look around while you finish up with the customer you have. Would this approach irritate you? Not likely. Most people do not resent waiting their turn, but no one likes to be ignored. How would you feel if you had spent several thousand dollars with a store and when you waked in, no one even acknowledged your presence? You would feel pretty unimportant and tempted to take your business elsewhere!
The other day an elderly lady came in for a watchband. Noticing she was not too steady on her feet, an employee asked her to be seated while he fitted her band. Before she left, she thanked him for his kindness, stating she had recently fainted in a downtown store because she could not find a place to rest in time. This act of kindness will be etched in her memory and she will think of our store as a “considerate” place to shop.
Do the unexpected
Each store has its own security measures and in many stores the following suggestion would never be practical, although some jewelers have had great success with this method. Whenever possible, bring the customer back of the counter to talk about a repair job or to look at a piece of jewelry. The counter is a barrier between the customer and the jeweler. When the barrier is crossed a watchmaker can show a customer the problem with his watch and make him feel part of the establishment. He feels flattered because you’ve trusted him in your territory and lets down his defenses.
Never, however, let carelessness overshadow your purpose. Cases should be kept locked and items of value removed before allowing anyone behind the counter. Also, customers with small children are poor “behind the counter” prospects. Children’s natural curiosity causes them to probe and tamper with just about anything in sight. Since you cannot rely on parents to curb this tendency, avoid the hazard of children behind the counter. You must be in control of the situation every minute.
It is quite a treat for a layman to perch on a high stool and watch the watchmaker at work. Our watchmaker will often save a broken staff or stem and present it to a customer or his child, saying, “This came out of your watch.”
Eyes glisten with the wonder of it all. The part may soon be lost, but no matter, because it served a large purpose for its small size. The watchmaker also saves the small plastic boxes that parts come in and passes them on to customers’ children. This keeps the fingers busy and off the showcases, and parents can concentrate on more important matters. A whiny, distracting child can cause you to lose a sale.
Beat the competition
The fellow down the street may drag his prices through the mud until he strikes rock bottom. Never mind, he can’t compete with you on the level of personal interest and service. As soon as his prices drop so low that volume must take over in order to survive, service and personal attention are the first to go. If you sincerely cater to your customers’ recognition motivation and feed it continually, you’ll have all the customers you can handle-at prices you want to charge.