*Miss the introduction to the #SmallBizWedding series? Catch it here!
I've never been "bride-y". Whereas some girls may have dreamt about their wedding day since their teens, I've spent much more time dreaming about scoring the cover of Inc. Magazine or Fast Company, or building businesses. That all changed when I met "Mr. H", got engaged and started planning a wedding. A small business-centric wedding that is. But I'm getting ahead of myself, we wouldn't be planning this wedding and I wouldn't be able to share the amazing lessons, strategies and product scoop I've gained from our entrepreneurial vendors, had our engagement never happened. To a small business nerd like me, that moment was awesome for two reasons: first, of course, was the moment itself. It was beautiful and special and there you have it. Second: my soon-to-be husband knew me well enough to steer clear of any big box stores or corporate entities like Tiffany's (a public company, as an aside). He knew I'd want something from an independent, preferably local retailer, and that is exactly where he found the ring that started it all.
By picking my ring out at Greenwich Jewelers he not only found something extra special that was crafted by a local independent business, but he began what has become an amazing relationship with one of the most attentive small businesses I've ever worked with. A business that clearly puts "amazing customer service" at the top of the list in terms of how they run their company from top to bottom. By doing this they have made us customers for life, and we recommend them to anyone else on the hunt for jewelry. As the purpose of the #SmallBizWedding series is to share takeaways and lessons you as a business owner can use in your own life, I've compiled a list of customer service strategies we've learned from them that we can all incorporate into our own work!
CUSTOMER SERVICE LESSONS FROM GREENWICH JEWELERS
1. Make time for your customers and realize that sometimes accomodating them and their schedules can mean you're creating customers for life. Sure, at times that means coming in early or staying a bit later. I recently learned that the day Mr. H picked out our ring was the same day we drove (or crawled) through traffic post-Thanksgiving trip to Maine. He then made a mad dash over to Greenwich Jewelers who kept the shop open for him to pick out the ring. This showed him immediately that they valued him and would make the extra effort to accomodate him when it mattered most. He still hasn't forgotten this.
2. Never make your customers or clients feel rushed in making a decision. Sure we all want the sale, or the client to sign up for a class/coaching session/service. That said they want to feel like you're answering their questions and they never want to feel rushed or pushed into a decision. Throughout our "wedding jewelry journey" picking out rings and wedding bands and so forth, Greenwich and our personal associate Robin gave us all the time in the world. She never acted distracted or put out by the personality trait we both share that makes us overanalyzers. We never felt pressured into anything. This made us want to come back and maintain our relationship with them. Your customers and clients should always feel informed and never feel rushed, whether you're a boutique owner or a service provider.
3. Get to know your customers. Personal relationships = long term relationships. Since we were engaged last December, Greenwich Jewelers has not only shared several appointments with us as we pick out bands (and expand my engagement ring post-sprained finger) and they remember what we said about our lives. They know what we do for a living. They knew when I was off to my bridal shower and wished me well. They know what days of the week work best for us for appointments. They showed authentic interest in how said finger injury was (and were the reason we had it X-rayed in the first place). As much of as it sounds like a cliche, they became more like an extention of our friendship circle and less of a retailer in our minds. This is again something that will keep us connected to them and recommending others to them well into the future.
4. Don't let your customers make bad decisions. Be gentle with this, but firm. Now back to said accident. This past April (less than six months away from the big day) I fell off my bike and in an attempt to protect the ring I seriously jam/sprained my finger. Now in typical entrepreneur fashion I decided I had way too many things to do and no time to get it looked at by a doctor. When the day came to pick out wedding bands at Greenwich Jewelers my finger was still so swollen I couldn't even get my engagement ring off my finger to try them on. In a manner that can only be described as "caring yet stern mother", our associate Robin (who has been with us since day one) urged me to set an appointment with a doctor immediately, get it X-rayed and take care of my finger and myself. I did just that two days later, and have been on the mend since then. Sure, in the end the injury required me to expand the entire ring, but what I loved was how Robin took the reins in that situation in a kind yet firm way. She knew not only what was best for me but what would make sense for their work. They couldn't create a ring without a true sizing of my finger. They couldn't just hope that my finger returned to its natural size in time. As busines owners there will be times when we know that the customer isn't actually right and we have to act and correct them. It's when they're making decisions that will prevent us from creating the best product or delivering our service to the best of our ability. For those moments, you must master the art of what explaining why things have to be a certain way, why it will benefit everyone, and let your customer see the decision as both necessary and a win-win.
Now your business may not be a jewelry boutique but the lessons learned from Greenwich Jewelers can be applied to any type of company, big or small, product or service based!
Stay tuned to the blog for our next #SmallBizWedding installment where we'll be revealing what tool Pollen Floral Design introduced us to that changed how we create client contracts forever!