After a trying year, tourists and locals alike are looking forward to enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Thankfully, things are looking up this summer tourism season and Maine is expected to have a bustling summer. As we prepare, we have to keep in mind the individual struggles people have experienced over the past year. Here are some tips to make sure your customers have a positive and memorable experience that they are desperately seeking.
Remember the Basics
Be Welcoming, Be Kind
As customers enter your business, be welcoming, kind, and have a warm smile or greeting. Your customers’ first impression of you or any other employee matters, and if you’re genuine and high-spirited you can’t go wrong.
Invest in the Conversations
Have genuine conversations with your customers when possible, be invested in their experience within your business, and understand that everyone has been through difficult times over the past year. For the tourists visiting this summer, ask them where they are from, about their travels and their experience in Maine.
Remember Names and Faces
As best as you can try to remember the names and faces of your repeat customers. Customers love to feel connected to small businesses and you calling them by their first name is a great way to ensure those customers will continue supporting your business.
Treat your Customers Fairly and Equally
Try not to play the favorites, and treat all customers with the same respect and hospitality.
Expressing thankfulness and gratitude for a customer’s purchase means more than you think to the customer, as these customers could have chosen any other small business to support.
Don’t forget about Digital
Respond to and encourage reviews
Responding to both the good and bad reviews shows the customers who leave reviews that you care about their feedback. It also highlights that you care about your online community and read customer reviews.
Respond to comments and questions
Monitor your social media platforms for comments and questions. And make sure you are responding to each one with the appropriate information or direct them to where they can learn more.
Stay in touch with customers and keep them updated
Your digital presence can help you keep in touch with both your online and offline customers, potentially leading to repeat sales. Use social media or email marketing to let customers know what you are up to and what’s happening in your business. Over time this will allow you to gain a following and build your community.
Follow-up sales with thank you’s
Online sales deserve the same amount of gratitude as in-person purchases. Make sure you are thanking your online customers. You can even set up an automatic email or discount code for post purchasing.
Utilize Feedback to your Advantage
Customer feedback means nothing unless you actually listen and actively change things to please your customer base. You should take the time to record customer feedback online and off. Consider which feedback you could fulfill and change within your business to make it more customer-friendly.
Best practices for Summer 2021
Keep customers & employees safe
As restrictions around the country are lifted, it’s going to become more common for customers and employees to forget safety protocols and guidelines. As always, enforce all state and federal safety guidelines and know it’s okay if you and/or your business are not ready to return to “business as usual” (maskless, distanceless, and at full capacity). To avoid issues, be clear with customers and employees about expectations.
Have a clean establishment
Now more than ever, customers will enjoy and respect a well-kept establishment. A clean business shows that you have respect for yourself and your customers. You should also utilize the proper PPE needed for your industry and continue to help customers feel safe.
Be respectful of comfort levels
People’s comfort levels with mask mandates (or lack thereof) and social distancing will vary. Being respectful of customers that may still be more comfortable being a bit more cautious.
Inform your Employees
As the owner of your small business, you will set the tone for your employees. It’s extremely important to relay your expectations to your employees in terms of customer service. You want to be able to leave your business in the hands of your employees at times, trusting them to be friendly and helpful to your customers. Have regular training sessions with your employees on what ideal customer service looks like within your establishment. Listen to their concerns about the coming season and make sure they feel safe working at your business. This will lead to a trickle-down effect, resulting in happier employees and customers.
Why this matters
You probably don’t need us to tell you that your customers are the key to your business’s success. If customers are displeased, you’re on a slippery slope. And, listening to and providing quality service to your customers can have a major return on investment – repeat customers who purchase more frequently and in larger amounts. Especially after a tough year, customers are craving a positive experience that makes them feel connected to the business. You and your employees have the power to help make their first vacation (or staycation) since the pandemic a memorable one.