What Customers Are Looking For In Addition To Your Product

Chances are that if you have any kind of job - from your home or outside the home - you interact with people. You provide goods or services that require you to offer yourself in one way or another. Those customers aren't coming to you solely for what you provide, either. They expect many things from you beyond what can be boxed up and delivered.

Are you providing what they need?

* A solution to a problem. The problem will vary based on our profession: a woman needs new clothes that will fit well and make her feel good about her appearance. A family needs to find a new house in a city where they don't know anyone yet. Parents bring their sick child to the doctor's office for a diagnosis and treatment. In every situation in our job, we are asked to solve a problem, big or small, and our performance affects how they feel mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically.

* Personalized service. We all know the feeling we get after we've called a company's customer service line and been less than satisfied. We want to talk to a real person. We want to be treated like we matter. We want someone's undivided attention while they go above and beyond to handle our issues. Our wants are exactly the same as our customers', so this is the perfect time to do unto others as we would have done unto us.

* Something original. Those of us in creative industries know that you have to do something out of the ordinary to catch a customer's attention. In a sea of people who make handmade cards, I have to make mine differently, in a different style and with attention to detail so my shop doesn't get lost on the Internet. Keep doing what you do, but do it with originality and flair.

* Honesty. If you say you'll have it there by the weekend, do everything in your power to have it there. If it can't be there by the weekend, truthfully explain why it can't. Admit your mistakes, be clear about your intentions and promote your goods and services honestly. This can make all the difference when the customer considers becoming a repeat customer.

* A bang for their buck. Customers have literally millions of options while shopping today. The only difference they see might be your price. Do your homework and price your items and services competitively while still making the profit you need to survive. If you are priced above your competitors, explain how the extra dollars translate into time saved, a personalized experience and a one-of-a-kind product.

* Consistency. No one likes a mystery, unless it's in a novel. If you've always included a hand-written note in your packaging, keep doing it even if you don't hear any response from it. It's still making an impression. If you've always shipped the same day the order arrives, keep doing it even if no one mentions it in your review. If you've always made follow-up phone calls after the sale, keep doing it even if all you do is leave messages. You never know what small detail of your business is keeping your customers loyal.

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