Why You Shouldn’t Assume, and Other Ways to Empower Your Customers by Giving Them More Choice
We’ve found that developing a culture of choice has grown not just our own business but also the operations and revenue for many others. Offering people choice puts them in the driver’s seat and creates empowered, happy customers. Here are five tips on how you can develop a culture of choice in your own business:
1. Never Assume
Offer each customer the same sales presentation and options for your services. This takes the onus off you and enables your customer to make the right decision for their needs. If you assume things about your customer, you may be missing out on ways to serve them.
We’re a bank that exists to help home improvement contractors grow their businesses and consumers improve their homes, but the lessons we’ve learned can be far-reaching. For example, if you drive up to a potential customer’s home, which is a huge mansion, you might be tempted to skip explaining the cheaper options. Conversely, when meeting with a potential customer that lives in a modest home, you might be tempted to skip mentioning the higher-value options. Don’t assume. You may find out later that the customer in the mansion is mortgaged to the max and can only afford lower-value options while the customer in the modest home is a billionaire and is wanting to know about high-value products or services you offer. So never assume anything about the potential customer’s age, house, profession, perceived income or socio-economic status. You may be leaving money on the table and the opportunity to deliver what the customer truly wants.
2. Educate the Customer
An empowered customer feels like they were treated better. You deliver empowerment through education on the industry, products and services. If you customer perceives the sales rep as providing valuable information and options, they are more likely to trust the sales person. When asking for the sale, don’t offer so many options that the customer gets decision paralysis, but offer enough options in order to match what level of product or service they want from you. Many sales people are trained to offer options such as “good,” “better” or “best.” You can even help narrow down the options to their two or three best choices once you know their situation. But whatever the case, make sure they are aware of the full range of options you can offer and help them understand the possibilities of what they could reasonably afford.
3. Ask Questions.
To help customers understand the range of choices available to them, ask open-ended questions throughout the sales process. This allows you to continually educate your customer about what option might be best for them. An open-ended question is, “What are you trying to get out of the project?” instead of, “What kind of sink do you want for the kitchen?”
4. When Offering New Options, Keep the Old Options Available
Many successful people like doing things their way—so let them. In wanting to offer an easier way to sign loans, we rolled out our eSignature option and cut off the old method of signing with paper. We had a noisy minority of contractors who soon let it be known they liked the old way. They were quiet while we did the research, but then complained after we introduced the change. We’ve learned to keep the existing options available when launching new methods or changes.
5. If Reasonable, Ask Them Flat Out What They Want
As you receive calls from customers on various issues, providing them with options on how to resolve those issues is more likely to keep a satisfied customer. When dealing with customer service challenges, sometimes it’s easiest to say, “What would it take for me to resolve this issue for you?” That way, the customer feels they can be part of the solution. Most of the time, customers will request reasonable solutions that most customer service representatives can implement without supervisor approval.
We’ve found that offering choice creates a win-win situation because it helps the customer better decide what they want and how you can serve them. We don’t assume to know the customer’s history or mindset, and we’re sure to ask questions. Use these tips to use the power of choice in your business, and reap the rewards that can result.