I Dig Your Boots Print from Flowers in May
Before we start talking about love, let’s talk about boots.
A friend of mine once bought a pair of boots. If you live in Scotland, boots are pretty much essential footwear for nine months out of the year.
I’m kidding. It’s more like eleven and a half months.
So my friend found a pair she loved – dark brown leather, medium heel, cute buttons down the side – and she wore them everywhere. Her feet stayed dry and she was happy.
Then a heel fell off.
My friend sighed and took them back to the department store. The assistant said sorry, took the boots and sent them to be repaired
When it became clear that wasn’t possible, the assistant called my friend to apologise and let her know a shiny pair of replacement boots was waiting for her.
Excellent service, right?
But that’s not the end of the story.
My friend picked up her new boots. She wore them constantly for a month. Then she cleaned out her handbag and found the receipt for the original pair of boots.
She hadn’t bought them from the department store at all.
Turns out she’d purchased them from a different company then completely forgotten about it.
Guilt-stricken, she called the assistant back to confess. Want to know what he said?
“Don’t worry about it. The important thing is you got your boots.”
I love this story because, to me, this is what running a business is about – serving people.
If you’ve ever been on hold for seventy three minutes while trying to get through to your bank or phone company, the term customer service probably rings rather hollow for you.
As a society we’re jaded by it. Endless bad experiences will do that to you.
So let’s ditch the “customer” bit but keep the “service.” True service means putting your customer at the centre of what you do. It means listening to them, understanding them and creating a business that solves their problems.
It actually means loving them a little bit. Wanting them to be whole and happy.
So here’s my question:
What are you doing to make sure your customers get their boots?
How do you make your customers feel that cared for, important and welcome in your business?
If you’re an online shop owner, how about you:
Send a personal email a couple of days after you dispatch an order to check it arrived.
I’m a big fan of automation. The first time I was able to send a dispatch email to an online customer with a single click was a hallelujah moment.
But if you don’t have one-on-one time with your digital customers, how about sending them a quick personal email?
They might reply, they might not. Doesn’t matter.
On the surface your email is simply a couple of lines about their delivery. On the down-low it’s saying “Hey, I haven’t forgotten about you, and I want you to be happy. Have you got everything you need?”
Or maybe you own a bricks and mortar shop. In that case perhaps you could:
Revisit the way you talk to your customers.
Do you have one of those signs that says something like “You break it, you bought it?”
Sweetie, I know you’re just looking out for your stuff, but those signs make people feel harassed, watched and uncomfortable.
Is that really how you want your customers to feel?
Maybe it’s time to throw away the sign and display your fragile items more securely.
And if someone does accidentally break something you could deal with it in a way that’s so charming, generous and kind that your unfortunate customer can’t help but tell all their friends about you.
How’s that sound?
And let’s not forget about wholesale stockists. If you sell your work to shops they’re your customers too, remember?
Why don’t you try:
Saying thank you and sending a tiny gift
Picture a busy shopkeeper who spends their time serving customers, fielding phone calls, creating displays and paying bills.
Hey, add in three chocolate biscuits and you’ve got my Monday morning!
The point is that retailers spend a lot of time sending stuff out into the world. Want to give a little back and possibly make them love you forever?
Try sending your stockists a quick email along these lines: “I think what you’re doing is great and thank you for supporting my work. I’ve sent you a little something via snail-mail because I think you rock. Hope you like it!”
Then mail them something small that you’ve made. Maybe it’s a sample of a new item you’re working on, or a special version of a best-seller.
Wrap it up nicely and attach a note that simply says thank you.
This kind of service is pretty much unheard of in retail, and as an indie designer being able to provide it is one of your biggest assets. If you catch them at the right time this might make your stockist cry.
In a really good way.
Cherishing your customers means adding to the love in the world.
That’s a noble aim.
And if you get it right, your bank account is gonna get some serious love too. Just sayin’.
Boots, huh? Who knew?
Clare Yuille — Indie Retail Academy
Clare Yuille is a shopkeeper, writer and retail coach for creative types who want their wholesale business to go whoooosh. Want to sell your work to indie retailers but feel overwhelmed, out of your depth or, erm…completely paralysed by fear, doubt and self-criticism? Clare’s blend of insider knowledge and expertise will help you simmer-the-heck-down, plot your course and experience so many biz-related epiphanies you’ll actually enjoy pitching your work to retailers. She takes away the eeeek! and replaces it with aaah.
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