"We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better."
--- Jeff Bezos
Providing the right products and services to suit the need of your customers is always a challenge. Some "experts" believe that it is imperative that you first conduct extensive market research to determine the needs, wants, and desires of your market area first before you even open a business. The reasoning is that once you get a grasp of what the masses want, you simply fill that need and people will beat a path to your door.
Then there are other highly successful businesses that simply create a product or service and hope that customers will want what they have to offer. Steve Jobs of Apple is an example of one who used this approach. In response to why he does business this way, Jobs responded, "Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets." The results of using this strategy are obvious… at least for Apple.
"Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge."
To understand customers requires the business leader to practically have a doctorate in psychology. Customers are fickle and particularly those in the sign industry. Sure, you may have a customer request 100 real estate signs or a plain-jane, vanilla banner or two, but quite often you will get customers wanting you to tell them what they want. The customer may have an idea, but the smart sign professional will walk the customer through a process of ideas leading to the ultimate solution.
"Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers."
--- Elizabeth Arden
Here is a good sales technique to practice with every customer. When the customer calls or enters the shop for one of your products, take the time to, as the Spice Girls say, find out what they want, what they really really want. Use visuals and stories to help the customer along in their decision process. Educate the customer on what works best and where. Hold the customer's hand and guide them to the ultimate solution. Doing this on a regular basis builds your selling muscles and improves your company's reputation.
"Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business."
--- Zig Ziglar
Don't neglect negative feedback. You will receive it so you may as well embrace it and use it to improve the sales force of your business. This is a great opportunity to again hold the hand of the customer and lead them to understand what it is that they want, fill that need, and create a positive experience.
"Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers."
--- Ross Perot
Employ all the tools necessary to understand what your customers want. These include online comments from your website, satisfaction surveys, feedback mailings, customer appreciation lunches, and more. Once you begin using every opportunity available, and taking them seriously, you'll probably be surprised at what you learn. Take that information and act on it.