What to do with lost customers.

Have you ever stood in the entrance of a restaurant, a small business office, or even a retail store for a few seconds wondering where to go from there? Did those few moments of awkward embarrassment quickly turn to frustration and did you think “Why is it my responsibility to figure out what to do in your space? Why isn’t anyone coming up to help me?”

You may have forgotten about the experience as soon as you walked in further and figured out how to maneuver to what you wanted… but maybe not. Maybe you turned on your heels and made a quick exit never to return.

You aren’t alone. America’s Research Group, a retail expert, found that a customer makes a decision whether or not to shop your business within seven seconds of walking through the front door. Whether a shopper is comfortable or embarrassed in those first few moments are what dictate a new customer or a frustrated, “never to return again” lost customer.

While you found the unfriendly experience frustrating, the real tragedy is that most business owners will never know how you, their vital visitor, felt at that moment, and so they’ll lose you and other potential clients forever and never fix the problem.

Roots and Legends, a Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture office was experiencing this exact problem. A new customer would come in, wander around aimlessly then head back out the door. The perplexed owner called me in to help with the problem.
I spent some time watching as patrons came and went. Those who had been there before were able to navigate fairly well, but still had some issues. New clients were at a loss.

The underlying problem? Too much going on in the small space and no direction to the different offerings. One office housed a retail section, a tea bar, herbal medicine, and acupuncture service. The client desperately needed guidance to where he or she wanted to be. Another major disadvantage was that the office staff were placed in the middle of the office under very dim lighting. You could hardly see them – new clients could easily think that the office was void of any human help.

By arranging the different sections better, putting up some helpful signage, improving the lighting, and relocating the staff, we were able to create an atmosphere that projected the business image of calm, natural healing. We also recreated the window displays and exterior signage to build a better brand image. Business is now booming at Roots and Legends!

As an interior or product designer, it’s my passion to put myself in another’s shoes. By being sensitive to your situation, I can design a functional, delightful space that reflects your significant business vision for the customer.

If, as a small business owner, you’re already empathetic to your clients as they walk into your office, GREAT! You’re on the right track and you’re making us all feel better. But if this is a new concept to you, let me help you out. What most people want when they enter a room is to know where to go, what to do, and who to talk to; this usually means a live person with some level of training in the art of customer care. It’s easy to assume that your business is providing that service, but remember that you’ve “lived” there a while, you know the drill, you’re on the inside looking out. It’s not the same for your clients who view your business through their eyes and experiences.

Know that your problem isn’t insurmountable, there are usually some quick fix things that can help at a very basic level. But if you really want to be in tune with the way your customers think and feel, and want to give them the best experience possible, you can go for the whole ball of wax and let me show you what you can do for your clients through every part of their journey. I’ll help your clients experience the feeling that you are there for them, not the other way around.

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Marissa Schultz