Recently on a weekend away with my sisters, the middle sister was bitten by a goose. This was made all the more unusual as it happened in the carpark of the cafe where we had planned to go for breakfast.

Upon approach to the front door, the goose sentries appeared. Littlest sister promptly hid.  Middle put on a brave face, told Little to get a grip, and greeted the goose with a friendly hello. An aggressive attack to the trouser leg resulted in a tactical retreat and a quick call to the rest of the party advising that breakfast would be elsewhere. We are still laughing about it.

Is the breakfast really worth ths?
Image courtesy of Thrillst.com

What is perhaps not so amusing, particularly for the owners of the bird ruling restaurant, is how many well-meaning, potential customers have also been chased away by the wildlife, and how much does this equate to in lost revenue.

While feathered attackers may be extreme, stepping into, or clicking on, an unattractive, uninviting or just plain confusing business place is unfortunately not. Could you be losing potential new clients and sales? How would you know? Your Welcome strategy is a key component of initiating the vital outcome of client loyalty. (And that means more sales!)

Use the check list below to assess your business using some of the key areas involved in a Welcome strategy.

Welcome Strategy Health Check:

1.  Where the bloody hell are you? – Are you easy to find?   This includes maps, on the internet, from the road, on foot, or by car. Don’t annoy your customers by having to initiate a rescue search for you, and how will you know if they give up trying?

A very basic first task which will help tenfold is to claim your Google listing. Add in your extra information, check your Google map is accurate (don’t just assume it is) and get yourself some free advertising at the same time.  Have a look at HubSpot’s easy tips.

2. Signage, Signage, Signage… Think about the times you have been into a shop, the supermarket, anywhere where you require some sort of direction.  How do you feel when you cannot easily locate what you want?  Or worse, after asking for assistance, you still cannot locate the item and need to ask again – Frustrating!!!!  Now apply this to your business.  Take the view of the customer – step in from the street, and evaluate the spaces and tasks before you.  Would some one brand new feel comfortable in understanding how your business operates?  Where do you order? Access to toilets?  Do I check in or wait?  Signage must empower your customers with knowledge; including directions, system changes, even missing or changing stock.

3. Meet and greet, and other hand holding activities – From the second a customers enters your door, initiate imaginary hand-holding system.  Stand up from your desk, or approach, and start providing information.  This may be as simple as asking “have you been here before?” to personally walking with them to find what they require.  Consider the many service styles presented in restaurants. Table service, order at the counter, line up… how does a new customer know where to go and what to do?  Uncertainty creates stress; empower your customer by providing control in a new environment.

4. Prepare to wait… It is probably not a new concept to you that customers regularly over-estimate the length of time they have waited.  Did you also know that the time spent waiting at your initial welcome point also greatly decreases the perception of service quality?   To make this experience a positive one, pay attention to running on time, offer distractions like magazines, coffee and tea provisions, and simply smiling and acknowledging the customer exists.  If your service is negative/unwanted (eg: dentist!), make sure your wait planning allows a few minutes for each customer to sit and relax; this allows time to initiate coping strategies.

Ultimately, if the wait is unreasonably too long, no amount of apology will change a customer negative perception.

5. Emails and correspondence – This is your chance to create a “blown away” experience before your customer even steps in the door.  Use your correspondence opportunities to provide more information about what you do and to gain extra information about your customer. Provide imagery, instructions, guidelines to your service – create familiarity.  Communicate genuinely to obtain more details, ask why they are booking – birthday? reward? Then use this information to connect when you meet. Happy Birthday! Congratulations! How are you feeling? You get the idea.

These points should be a vital part of your customer engagement strategy; I prefer Welcome Strategy which adds ‘the human’ back into the process.  We all like to feel welcome, wanted and safe, and that our decisions and hard earned money is respected and valued.

“Remember your Welcome Strategy is much more than saying hello and lasts much longer than the first few seconds of contact. – You can’t say hello if your potential customers never step in your door!”

Tough Cookie Marketing provides a variety of service and marketing health checks. Creation of your Welcome strategy is designed specifically to your business, working with you and your staff to create specialised systems increasing your customer Welcome satisfaction level.  Request an assessment here: kathie@toughcookiemarketing.com

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