When customer confidence is down, little things can stand out to someone visiting your restaurant, store or school. Things just being worn, torn, dirty or dated can make people feel less safe and secure in your building. Now more than ever, people want to feel like they are in a safe, clean, professional place of business.
There are many different things that can cause them to feel less confident. This is our “Guide to Restoring Customer Confidence” to help you review all the potential problems and fix them so that customers pick you and keep coming back and referring their friends.
Floors – Obviously, we sell floormats and replacing old, worn or unsightly floormats is a big issue. People notice when the floor is not pristine. Replace your floormats when they are not looking new.
Do you have worn carpet or a broken tile, fix it or cover it with a floormat as well.
Your vents should be clean. Have you ever looked up and seen dust stuck to the front of a vent? Right away you question the sanitation of the place.
Have things deep cleaned professionally from time to time. Your regular cleaners are used to their routine and could be missing things that a fresh eye from the outside will see and clean.
Replace anything that looks dated. Artwork, old images, old plants that are half alive. When you see these things every day, you are just accustomed to them being there. New people walking in will notice old looking things right away.
Replace your coffee machine. If you have a coffee machine, water cooler or other such thing in a waiting room, replace them with newer, more modern versions.
Have hand sanitizer out for visitors. This adds a sense of confidence that people are not spreading germs and that customers can stay germ-free while in your building.
Watch how employees dress at work. Disheveled employees working with customers do not create customer confidence. If they need new uniforms, buy them new uniforms.
Now you might be able to use this list of ideas yourself and make your business more clean, professional and instilling confidence in your customers, but remember you are blind to many things that you see every day. While you might be able to hire secret shoppers to come and look over your store, there is another way that is less expensive that you can do more regularly.
First, you need to commit to having a professional atmosphere. Don’t do this if you are not ready to take actions, like replacing old floormats or bringing in people to professionally clean areas.
Designing Your Assessment
Next, invite a friend or family member over to your business. Ideally, this is someone who has not been there before or has not been there for a long time. Do not tell them you are going to ask them to do this assessment. You could be meeting to go out for lunch or a drink after work, for example. Do not meet them right away when they arrive. Have them sit in the customer area. (At least a few minutes – you want them to wait and get a bit bored and look around)
Then explain you would like them to do a very short review of the place – it would be a big help and you need a fresh, honest eye.
Then you should have them do a one-page assessment.
The first question should be an open-ended (write sentences) kind of question. “What things stood out to you when you were waiting?” Let them know you want good and bad feedback.
The rest of the questions should be very fast and easy. On a scale of 1-5 rate the appearance of each area of the business.
1. Needs Attention
3. Looks Fine
4. Professional and Clean
5. New and High End
Then list each item you would like them to assess with a number. Modify this list based on what you have.
How Do Floormats Look?
How Is Condition of Carpet / Tiles / Flooring?
How Is Condition of Walls?
How Does the Ceiling Look?
How Are Chairs and Furniture?
Are Windows Clean?
What Do You Think of the Reception Area?
What Do You Think of the Signs and Pictures?
How Would You Describe the Employee Dress?
How are the Vents?
What do you think of the Lights?
What is your impression of the Food and Beverage Area?
What was your first impression of the outside of the building before entering?
How was the parking lot?
Then ask them to comment on any areas that stand out as things that could be improved to make customers feel more confident and comfortable.
Make sure the person you ask feels comfortable giving you honest feedback that is not too harsh but also not telling you just what you want to hear.
What To Do With Feedback?
Once you get the feedback, here is what you do. Anything scoring a 1 or 2 needs immediate attention. Sometimes simple cleaning is all you need. If you have a worn floormat or ripped chairs, replace them as soon as you can.
A score of 3 does not need to be addressed right away, but it is definitely a place where you can make improvements. A 3 means they were neither impressed nor concerned. The question is, can you improve that item and make it a strong point? If your goal is to wow customers with your caring, clean and professional environment or is your goal just to not stand out? That is your call.
A score of 4 or 5 is good, but if you are not doing this assessment regularly, remember that those scores can slip quickly.
One great example of this was when I visited multiple Orthodontists to get braces for my daughter. There were two options close to our home. One was about $1,000 cheaper. We visited there first. My daughter was horrified at the crowded waiting room. The age and general wear on the furniture. The lack of privacy as people got worked while other people walked by in an open setting. Old floormats and a beat-up reception area.
Contrast that with the more expensive place. It was clean, new and even had a robotic coffee station and a freezer with ice cream in the reception area. It was so obvious that customer confidence is their number one concern. Everything from the floormats being clean and new, right up to NO dust in any corner or vent. The 20% higher price seemed a small price to pay for working with someone who put the customer first.
We all know that the standards for a hospital and dentists are different from an auto repair shop. That does not mean having a nicer reception/waiting area does not make a difference. We should all take pride in giving customers a clean, comfortable area to be in. Now more than ever we want people to feel like they are in a safe, clean and professional environment. When people feel more comfortable and that they are in a safe, clean environment, they are going to be more likely to come back.
Start by replacing floormats and anything else worn. Then dive deep and make your business sparkle in the eyes of customers.