So, how do you go about ensuring that you keep your customers on your side when things do go wrong?
Always be honest
“There have been times where the supplier has made a mistake and given us the wrong product or quantity, and again mistakes can happen, but what I would respect is a bit of honesty for someone to put their hand up and say, ok this is how we’re going to fix it” Everyone makes mistakes, but it goes a long way if you are able to be honest with your clients, and work with them towards fixing any issues as quickly and as painlessly for them as possible. “If they didn’t offer an apology, or an offer of compensation or resolvement, we won’t work with them again”.
Be proactive, offer advice and provide alternatives
“It’s not always about price. Be sensitive to fit-for-purpose, we are open to alternatives in general if the product specified is not appropriate” No-one knows your product better than you, and as hard as it is to turn down a potential sale, it will be worth more further down the line if you work with your client to ensure that they get the right product for their needs. Being open with your client with the suitability of the product in the chosen environment will form the building blocks in establishing trust with you and will probably save you a potential headache later.
That’s not to say however that you need to lose out completely. “We appreciate that bespoke alterations will incur a charge and increase lead-time, but honesty is key”
The more information the better
“Give as much information as possible - this means that I can really quickly establish whether a product is relevant to our needs, it really really helps to sell the product” If you don’t have all the information that your client needs, they may ask you, but often you're working with very time poor people, and some most likely won’t. They will instead go to someone else who does have the answer to their questions readily available. Putting things like your lead-time, trade discount, fabric options or packaging information as clearly as possible will make a real impact to the saleability of your product. “When you immediately see the % discount on offer, the time saved gives an instant magnetism to your product”
Make sure you have good photography
Interior designers are visual people, and an image is the fastest way to sell your product to them. “It’s one thing having images from the front, or the side, but seeing the product in situ is easier for the client to understand. The minimum would be to see pictures of the front, the back, the fabrics available, as well as all the finishes available. Even if it’s not professional photography, keep any pictures on your phone and just keep as a reference for clients, it’s still better than nothing.” If your customer can get a sense of the colourway or texture of your product in a real life setting, this will go a long way to building your relationship with your customer and becoming a go-to supplier.
Don’t send a printed catalogue!
“I don’t remember the last time I specified something from a printed catalogue, in fact I don’t think I have ever done it” Whilst printed catalogues can look lovely, the reality is that many of your clients won’t even have the time to pick it up, and, if they do, they almost certainly won’t read it cover to cover. In today’s digital world, an easy to access digital catalogue with great photography, focused on image rich interesting content, will go much further for you than a printed copy of your catalogue, or a generic text-heavy email. “A visual email is a much better rather than a phone call. If you have got some pictures in your email, we are much more likely to open the email and follow through to your page”
Make sure you have added all your product information into eporta
“I am that person who goes through 24 pages, and I tries every search around it. The key beauty of eporta is the filters. Sometimes it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but those filters make it easier by making the haystack even a little bit smaller.” This really shows just how important it is for you to put as much information as possible into your product page, to make sure that you come up as quickly as possible in your client's search.