Your customers know almost everything about what you offer before they "walk in" the door. Whether you sell items off shelves, provide a service, are a museum or tourism attraction, a library or even an entire community, hardly anyone walks in without background information. They've stalked your company—and your competitors—online well before they make contact.
Here's how to treat the informed consumer:
They've stalked you...now what?
In broad terms, every business has a front door. That front door may be a website, or it may be the entrance to retail operation, but the traditional walk-in clientele has changed significantly for all sectors of business.
In the case of a potential client or customer who comes to you, there is a good chance that they have done their homework before they make contact or visit. With the internet at their disposal, they often walk in knowing:
- Your pricing structure - even if it isn't something you post on your site, there's a good chance that someone else has posted information about it, possibly in a price comparison style post. Or if you do price your services or items, they've already done their comparison before making contact.
- Industry pricing - it's a given that your potential client or customer may research average prices for services and come prepared to negotiate.
- Your reviews - there's a review site for almost everything, or at a minimum, there's a google or Facebook review system that may or may not have ratings. Even sites like Glassdoor.com may contain information a client or consumer may see and absorb before deciding to contact you.
- Your brand personality - they've stalked you on social media and they know whether they want to work with you or not. Or at least they haven't seen anything that concerns them.
So, how do you treat this type of clientele differently?
- Button up your online presence - make sure they can find information on you easily and that what is out there is accurate and represents your brand well. Address negative reviews if needed (publicly) and ensure that your information is all up to date.
- Give them every opportunity to reach you in the manner they want to make contact - more and more people seek to make that first contact electronically, or generate an initial quote online. Make it easy for them to reach you in whatever way is most comfortable for them. Online chats, contact forms and readily accessible emails and pricing documents are all ways to start a conversation.
- Assume they already know what they want - try to assess their information level quickly and be ready to get to the specifics. Don't be surprised if they have an in-depth knowledge of their options and ask for something specifically.
- But be prepared to help and guide - always seek to help, not to sell. They already know what they want. Help them get it, and if you can't deliver what they want it at the terms that they are willing to accept, let it go. They may come back based on this aspect alone.
- Acknowledge their knowledge - everyone likes feeling smart. And today's consumers have thoroughly researched their options.
In a nutshell—your customers know a lot about you. But how much do you really know about customers? Have you identified your target audience and developed personas around them? Do you understand their pain points? Have you trained your staff to provide them with the experience they're expecting from your company?
Let's talk about your goals and plan the tactics that you'll use to engage and delight your customers.