Friday, 29 June 2012

Increasing Customer Confidence in your Small Craft Business

 Customer confidence and credibility are important for all buinesses and arguably even more important for a tiny business. 

as seen in Mykonos, Greece

Most craft business owners are not just business owners: they are often the designers, makers, sellers, packers, customer services department, website designers, technicians, promoters, marketers and gophers for their business.

Phew! No wonder there aren't enough hours in the day!

 These diverse parts of a business are each very important - but, despite wearing all these hats, it's vital to come across well to customers and create credibility.  How will people know they can trust you otherwise?  You haven't got the backing of a big, well-trusted brand, and you're busy, so what can you do?

For me, these are ways to help gain credibility with customers:
  • Create good designs that people want to buy and make them to the highest standards you can.
  • Make sure your customer service is second to none.  Respond to any negative feedback or customer unhappiness immediately and do whatever it takes to make that customer happy. 

 respond to emails
  • Be quick and speedy wherever you can - respond to emails several times a day, including evenings and weekends and send items out promptly (it may not be next day if you're making to order, but it should be as soon as possible and the customer needs to know when to expect it).
  • Get featured in magazines (I don't mean paid ads) and newspapers.  There's something inherently trustworthy about a featured product - and it needn't cost anything.  I'll be blogging about how to get featured soon, so watch this space.

magazine features can increase customer confidence
  • Get customer feedback and publish it!  Either have a page on your website, and/or have a page on an independent website like Free Index.
  • Be easily contactable. Not just contact forms and email, but a landline phone number, Twitter and Facebook are all ways customers might want to contact you and the more ways they can contact you the easier it will be for them to trust you.  Oh, and don't forget your blog - they may leave a comment on a relevant post.  All this contact information should be easy for your customers to find.
  • Add the personal touch whenever you can.  Do this in emails to your customers, responding to requests, popping a hand written note in with orders or maybe even offering to giftwrap an order that's going direct as a gift.  

  • Show the real you at times in your blog, Twitter or Facebook (but be wary of putting people off by sharing too much!)
  • Be nice to people, including your competitors.  What goes around, comes around.
Increasing your credibility in small ways should help to show that you and your business can be trusted.   If you somehow manage to fall short, own up and apologise.  Mostly, you'll be forgiven - people generally respect honesty.

What do you think?  Would you add anything else for increasing that all-important customer confidence?  Leave a comment and let us know!


ZukieStyle said...

great post, really useful thank you.
I go out of my way to always make sure I can do everything to make the customer happy, sometimes if it means me been out of pocket I'd rather have the good review for future customers.
I find adding something extra to an order (I offer my discount card) makes them feel appreciated.
Also for regular customers maybe remembering their b'days and giving something as a treat is worth it.

Ali said...

Hi Wendy,
Thanks for another great article. I'm not running a business but I wondered if customers would want to know where items were sourced from, i.e. fabric, paints, etc. I know a lot of people are keen to buy british. This was something Mary Portas highlighted in her programme. Have a lovely weekend. Ali x

Wendy said...

Thanks ladies, really good points! I had forgotten about where items are made - but you're spot on, Ali, "handmade in Britain" is something that definitely helps!

Cory Cuthbertson said...

Hi Wendy, thanks for the article! Definitly an important area I probably dont think about enough. I try to make my presentation of my items look professional but handmade, and definitly add in the hand written note with a cute sticker. That's a good point about showing off feedback - I've had some lovely comments on Etsy that I'd love to share!

Unknown said...

I think branding is important. One of our steps this year is to get labelling professionally printed. I work in the print industry so lucky to have a few contacts.

Sheila said...

Good article. Packaging is important. I get lots of complements on how my goods are wrapped. People like to get a lovely wrapped 'present' through the post and it doesn't have to cost a fortune, just need to extend yor creativity.

Wendy said...

Bathtime team: yes, you're right - branding definitely is important.

Sheila: absolutely, packaging is important and is often a big part of your branding and the customer experience.

Thanks for your input!