A few weekends ago I purchased an engagement ring for my beautiful (now) fiancé. (She said yes!) I didn’t know exactly what the ring would look like, though I had some ideas and some good references. While I knew what I wanted I had a list of concerns:
- Will she like the ring?
- What if I pay too much?
- What if I get the wrong one?
- Will she think I don’t know anything about her?
- Will she think I don’t listen?
- What am I going to have for lunch?
- How many places am I going to have to go?
- How many times am I going to have to explain the same thing?
- Can I have it in within five days?
- How does sizing work?
- What if I don’t know her size?
- Is there a warranty?
- What am I going to tell her I did this morning?
- How am I going to ask her?
- Will she say yes?
- Etc., etc.
All of this was going through my mind as I walked into the mall. I was overwhelmed. I was distracted. But I still learned a very valuable lesson: I saw first hand the difference made by focusing on what people are concerned about rather than what a customerwants.
Selling to customers focuses on selling products within a defined process—delivering a product as a service, answering every objection people have, tying customers down to decisions, and closing the deal.
People on the other hand, at least me, prefer to make informed purchases based on trust. Informed buying decisions come from being educated and knowing the difference between fears and normal concerns—seeing all the options and deciding which is the best.
Next time you go into a store, notice whether they see you as a customer or a person. What do they lead with? It will be some variation of one of these:
Questions you ask a customer:
“What brings you in today?” “What are you looking for?”
Questions you ask people:
“What are you celebrating?” “What is the occasion?”
CUSTOMERS SHOP. PEOPLE BUY.
When my friends knew I was in the engagement ring market, they referred me to a local shop known for its beautiful rings and exceptional customer service. I assumed it would be expensive, as antique rings and customer service often are, especially when they are together.
Their reputation was enough to get me to the mall on a beautiful, sunny, November morning in Seattle. (For those of you who don’t know, we don’t have a lot of nice days this time of year, so we must take advantage. But we love it…the Seattle weather that is. The darkness brews great beer, creativity, and coffee.)
All to say, there are better places to be than a mall on a sunny Seattle morning.
Maybe it was luck, but the store was not busy. The employee had more than enough time to walk me through everything, but I assume she would have done that anyway. She did not run me through a script. She talked to me like I was her little brother.
She showed me a ton of options, asked me important questions, and offered a lot of direction—all to help me understand what all goes into buying an engagement ring. She was straightforward with me and told me there was a sale coming up and that she would hold the ring for me until then. (THAT is customer service.)
In an effort to do my due diligence, I went across the mall to another jeweler. I didn’t really expect to find anything, but thought I should go look at other styles, prices, and value. So I walked in as open-minded as I could. But what I walked into was a process.
I was met with a standard, “Hello, what are you looking for?” As soon as I said “an engagement ring,” they ushered me over to a case and started showing me rings. The first one they handed me they offered to sell to me. Same with the second and the third. They did not ask if I had any preferences or ideas. They just continued to sell me rings they had.
PERSON, NOT PROCESS
The woman at the first store addressed all of my concerns and helped me better understand the engagement ring industry. The second retailers told me what they needed to sell me. She told me about an upcoming sale, where she would hold the ring and I would save money. They told me a complicated sale process whereby I’d get $200 off, plus 5%, minus whatever…but only until tomorrow! They used a calculator. She gave me hope and assurance that my fiancé would like the ring. It’s cheesy, yes, but it’s true. She knew because she asked me questions. And she was right. My fiancé loved it.
I knew that she needed to know about me and my fiancé so that she could show me some rings that we would like. Through helping me see and understand, she soothed my anxieties—that laundry list of things I was thinking about as I walked into the mall.
Price was not the most important. What was most important was that I found the right one that fit my fiancé’s style and my budget. She talked to me about value, about the story behind each piece, and left the pressure in the cooker.
Everyone wants to make an informed decision. And if your business depends on deceiving people or scaring them into a sale you’ll never be able to educate them because they will eventually figure you out. If you are thoughtful and care about your customers, you can design a product or process that is authentically good for them. Then you can build trust by telling them all the relevant information so that they can make a good decision. Who doesn’t want to pay more for trust? I will pay more for help and education. Especially when someone really knows what they are talking about.
At BELIEF we get to invite our clients to be who they are. Our goal is to uncover why they are doing what they do. When we know our clients, we can craft all creative assets to communicate them and their story—authenticity above all else. Ultimately getting them in front of the right people with the right message.
"AUTHENTICITY ABOVE ALL ELSE…."
No one wants to feel like a customer. Treat your clients like friends and family. Protect their interests. Give them what they want or help them see what they need. What do you want FOR them and FROM them? What would you tell your sister? Your mother? Your son? Treat people instead how you would someone you care about and want the best for them.
What the jeweler wanted for me:
She wanted me to find the right ring. She educated me on diamonds and the industry in general. She showed me what she had. She filled in the gaps in my knowledge. She calmed some fears and helped reduce normal ones. She wanted me to find something my fiancé would like. She gave me a story I could tell my fiancé. She gave my fiancé a story she could tell her friends and family. We found a ring that was as unique and precious as my fiancé.
What the jeweler wanted from me:
Direction and references of rings I thought she would like. She needed to know what I was comfortable spending.
She was helping me make a decision, not helping herself make a sale.
People don’t always know what they need, and customers might know what they want. It’s your goal to treat everyone who walks in your door, inquires about your service, or reaches out for advice like people, as opposed to customers.