Garnes and table.JPG

Lorelei Garnes, owner of WNC Social Media Buzz, is shown in her training room behind the table made by her husband, Dean, who owns Backyard Wood Creations.

When you are a business owner, your livelihood depends on your customers. That's why it makes great sense to adopt a customer-centric approach to doing business, and to keep the customers' needs and desires in the forefront of your entire operation.

Ideally, you want each customer experience to be a very positive one, and hopefully something outstanding, so they'll want to come back for more of the same. So how do you go about making the customer the major focus of your business operations? Continue reading below for some sound recommendations.

Positive customer experience

As mentioned above, it all starts with a very positive customer experience. Your customers should always feel that they are not only welcome in your store, but that you also acknowledge how important they are to you. If you can pamper your customers during their visit to your establishment, they'll want to return to enjoy that same feeling again.

Cheerful employees, convenient checkouts, informative signs, and even the occasional Customer Appreciation Day will go a long way toward building strong ties with your patrons.

Accessibility

When your customers call with a question or a complaint, they expect to be answered promptly, and to receive a useful response.

If you have an automatic answering system which puts several layers between you and your customers, they may end up getting frustrated and annoyed. Make yourself accessible so that customers don't reach the point where they get aggravated, because they may just want to go somewhere else.

Excellent customer service

To provide excellent customer service that promotes loyalty in your patrons, everyone in your organization must be committed to providing top-notch service when called upon.

Whatever it takes to satisfy a customer (within reason of course), should be adopted as the standard routine by your company representatives. Going the extra mile to make someone happy should be the norm rather than the exception, because that's what will make you stand out from the competition.

If all your employees have this same attitude, your customers will notice, and they will be impressed by your willingness to please.

Customer needs and desires

A good businessperson makes a point of anticipating customer needs and desires, not reacting to them. Do whatever is possible to research the needs and desires of your customers, so you can have a solution ready to satisfy them.

If you don't get out ahead of this issue, it will be too late to react to what you learn, usually late in the game. The only way to have a ready answer for those needs and desires is to know what they are ahead of time, and to work on the best solution for them.

Conduct surveys, call your customers, send out questionnaires — do whatever is necessary to learn exactly what it is your customers want.

Know them by name

You might not be able to remember every single customer by name, but you should try to remember those who are frequent patrons at least.

It often means a lot to a customer when you can address them by their first name, because it's a little flattering to think that you've made an impression on someone, such that they remember your name.

It's a good feeling for a customer to be remembered, and when customers have good feelings about coming to your store, they'll come more often.

Collect feedback

Everyone likes to feel that their opinion matters, and that someone cares about what they think. That's why you should periodically collect feedback from your customers, so they can feel that their opinion counts for something.

You might also learn some genuinely useful information which you can use to improve your products, your service, or your facility. Don't sell your customers short — find out what they're thinking and make use of any useful information which will help you become better at what you're doing.

Lorelei Garnes, owner

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