Thursday, 16 February 2012

Who Are Your "Invisible Customers"?

Who are your "Invisible Customers"?
I have been asked this many times, especially since revealing the title of the book to people, and there are several answers as to who they are, where they are and why they don’t buy from you.
THE INVISIBLE CUSTOMERS LIST
1.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who knows your bricks and mortar store exists, but doesn’t know what you sell because they have never seen you advertise.
2.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who has seen what you advertise, but doesn’t know where you are, and just hopes to come across your store as they go about their normal life.
3.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who has need of your products or services, but doesn’t know you exist, for whatever reason.

4.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who does not live in your local area, but requires any one or number of products or services that you offer – but doesn’t know about you because you don’t have any sort of web presence.
5.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who does know your business, knows what you do, and do well, but really has no connection with your business for any number of reasons.
6.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who has been treated so badly by your staff and/or yourself, that they are online right now telling everyone in the world about how bad your business is.
7.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who has been to your store, and they could not find a parking space, or (and I am not joking about this one) the entrance to your store.
8.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who couldn’t find what they wanted in your store, due to either bad layout, lighting, stock, and also could not find anyone to help them – or, if they were lucky, found someone who then couldn’t help them.
9.       An “Invisible Customer” is someone who waited far too long to be served, or waited in line too long, or, just generally – waited, and waited, and waited – then walked out!
10.   An “Invisible Customer” is someone just like you and me who have experienced any, and all of the above – and didn’t know what to do about it – or had no idea that this problem even existed in YOUR store!

That’s the list that I originally started from, and the list in the book is far more comprehensive, and revealing – but you will have to wait for that one.

One thing to remember that "Invisible Customers" are not your friends or your family. They will give you honest feedback about what it is you are doing - they have no vested interest in whether your business succeeds or fails.

The important thing to recognise is that your business, small or big – is missing out on reaching these “Invisible Customers”.  How you reach them, and the dialogue between you and them can dictate how your business will survive.
From not dealing with a problem when it first occurs, to sending out an advertising message that is off target, or too convoluted, means that your target customers are being missed.
If you don’t believe me, here is a short example of what I mean.
Recently I went to purchase a piece of software for my daughter. I went to several electronics shops, mega stores, and large variety stores. None had what I wanted. Lastly I went to a small, family owned electronics store, and didn’t hold out much hope for getting what I wanted from them, as I had had bad experiences there before. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather I was so shocked with what happened.
1.       I was served by someone who actually knew what it was that I was looking for (4 out of the 6 previous shops had no idea at all).
2.       The person took the time to find out what I wanted, and for what price.
3.       Then, upon finding out that they had none in stock, invited me to his workstation – and proceeded to look at what they had ordered, if any were due in and failing that – he then looked online, and call other small independent stores in the state to see if they had what I was after.
4.       No luck there, so, he checked a store that he knew of interstate – they had it, and for the price I wanted it for. He then asked me if I could wait a couple of days for it to arrive, and I could have it at the same price – I wouldn’t have to pay freight. YES!
Throughout the entire process, he had been chatting to me about different subjects, my daughter’s birthday, needs at work for electronics, etc. I left happy, and looking forward for the product to arrive in the next couple of days – maybe a week, then …
5.       I received a call the very next day – it had been overnight shipped!
6.       Upon picking it up the next day, I was also given a voucher for a discount on my next purchase from that store.
The voucher he explained was to use for my daughter’s birthday in a couple of months’ time – or for something from work. WOW! Great service.
Now, this store does not advertise at all, they rely solely on word of mouth to survive. This is due to many, many factors. BUT, they have achieved a great deal of loyalty from existing (and now a new) customer – how?
By delivering service that wows! By being able to reach out and engage their “Invisible Customers” once they are in the door. But, I really think they can go so much further, and achieve the next level of customer engagement – they could become a really amazing business.
But, like most things, they are doing it one step at a time – and are mastering each step and process as they go.