You’ve heard the expression, “You only have one opportunity to make a first impression.” It has been said so often that it’s part of our daily culture. We don’t wear sweatpants to the office, or t-shirts to an interview. But first impressions are more important than we think. Market research tells us that a negative impression is 8x more powerful than a positive one. Your first interaction with a potential client is a critical moment and happens in the blink of an eye. You may not make the sale in those first few moments of contact, but you can easily lose one.
4 Lessons Your Online Business Can Learn From Traditional Retail Stores
One of the most powerful things we can learn from a brick-and-mortar store is in how they treat their customers. Online experiences can often be cold, and confusing. You hop from store to store, shopping for the best price, or the best item for your needs. You may even do some comparison shopping online and maybe read some reviews. But if you get stuck you go back to what you know. You ask someone for help. Ask others around you what they have used in the past that works.
This is where a brick-and-mortar store shines. Walk into a hardware store, and ask any associate what type of pipe you need to tighten up the plumbing under the sink, and they can walk you directly to the pipe wrenches and help you with the right size immediately. Go to an online store, and you have a plethora of options, where the mere 1/8th of an inch difference could mean you don’t have your pipes fitted properly.
Having a wealth of options at our fingers does not mean much if we cannot sort the information available to us to make a choice. To help consumers, a brick-and-mortar store employs associates to retain customers and gain their loyalty. Here are four practices the best retail stores offer.
They greet you right when you come in.
When someone greets you and says, “Hello”, you will probably acknowledge them and respond with your own greeting, usually a positive one. Even if your mood is sour, a genuine smile and sincere greeting can be uplifting.
Studies have shown that those first 10 seconds when a customer enters the store can be a deciding factor if they will continue shopping at your store. This is your time to make a great first impression. Customers want to be acknowledged and greeted within the first 10 seconds. On the reverse, if you ignore a customer, there’s a high probability that they will take their business to a competitor.
They don’t immediately ask for the sale
The most common greeting at any brick-and-mortar store is ” How may I help you?” This great phrase is simple but effective as an opening to a conversation. It is not a sale-driven phrase, but an opener to remind the customer the associate is there to help them. A more engaging opening is showing they recognize the customer, and acknowledge it’s great to see them again. Small brick-and-mortar stores excel in this model. An alternative to this model is the phrase ” Have you been here before?”
All of these opening phrases serve one main purpose, to interact with the customer, and show them they are valued for more than just one purchase. A recent survey by TimeTrade suggests that shopping trends favor a brick-and-mortar model, stating, “The bottom line is customers value the personal experience of the physical store.”
They respond to your questions at the time you need them to.
Like our example above, brick-and-mortar stores provide those answers and can do it quickly and personably. In fact, 90% of consumers are more likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable associate. In the case of our pipe wrench, that seems to be a given. Many online stores carry pipe wrenches, but the one that got the business was the one that could answer the very simple questions about it.
Just to drive this home, in a recent Google survey, respondents were asked why they chose a brick-and-mortar store over an online store. 13% of the respondents prefer shopping in a physical store so they can pose questions to store associates.
They build relationships and give authenticity.
Greeting someone by name, and asking how they are doing is the first step in continuing to build relationships with those around you, and it works just as well in business. Having great customer service is so important to consumers, that 66% of them are willing to pay more if they receive excellent customer service
Being genuine and sincere with your customers can enhance the customer’s experience, and be frank, your own. Being genuine and sincere is what makes a customer feel appreciated, and it is the best start to a genuine and authentic relationship with your customer.
Each of the methods described above helps brick-and-mortar stores not only stay in business but to thrive. But every lesson we can glean from stores like greeting a customer, having an associate available for questions when the customer is ready, and building relationships are lessons we can all apply to our online businesses.
So how is an online business supposed to do this? How can a website provide an incredible customer experience?
It can accomplish this by integrating BirdSeed.
It allows the web visitor to immediately feel engaged and in control. It allows them to easily control their experience and direct the time and method they want to engage with you. It lets the web visitor find the thing they want to do on your website- shop, ask questions, schedule something, read FAQs, engage with a live chat operator, read a knowledge library, and more. If you haven’t experienced BirdSeed for yourself, then click on the button on the right of this page to start your journey-when and how you want.
Until Next Time,
Robert Urban – CMO of BirdSeed
Current CMO of BirdSeed and best-selling author, Marine veteran, and PhD. Offers expert-level strategy and execution for SAAS and technology business through relationship-driven marketing, content, and sales while leading and managing people from all different backgrounds. BirdSeed is headquartered in Orlando, Florida.