How to Wow Your Clients: 25 Ways to Stand out from Your Competition
Today’s been a complete disaster. If it wasn’t one thing, it was the other.
This morning, you’d shut your alarm off instead of hitting snooze mutating your 7 am wake-up into an 8:30 am panic attack. The snowball effect of your horrid misstep was numerous canceled and rescheduled appointments. How to wow your clients? I think not.
And yet, it didn’t stop there.
On your way to soccer practice with the kids, you swore you’d heard a “clinking” noise coming from underneath the car. Then again, with all the screaming and fighting, it was kinda hard to tell. To be honest, you were just relieved to get them out onto the field (translation: away from you). All you needed was five minutes to soak in the sweet glory of silence.
Alas, nothing good ever lasts.
Ten minutes into your ride home it felt like the Incredible Hulk had taken ahold of your Camry, violently shaking you for his amusement. As you made a beeline for the side of the road, kids frozen in the backseat, you officially gave up.
Once you’d safely stopped, you frantically searched for your roadside assistance card hidden somewhere in your car (fingers crossed that the renewal payment got checked off your to-do list somehow).
After several minutes, you located the crumpled up card (paper, seriously?!) and dialed the number. Dispatch explained they’d send someone out as soon as possible and stay calm and hold tight.
What felt like an eternity later, you saw headlights coming up the road, slowing down as the vehicle approached your location. Stuffing down memories of 80’s slasher flicks, you opened your door to wave over who you hoped was your white knight with a tow hitch.
As a shadowy figure emerged from the illumination of headlights, you relaxed – had this nightmare day finally come to a close?
Out of the darkness came a voice: “Hey, I’m Tony from Hane’s Towing, I’ve got donuts here for you and your kids.”
Had you heard correctly, or maybe you hit your head getting out of the car?
As you stammered an eloquent: “Hi, huh?!” You felt a box of donuts being pushed into your hands as Tony smiled at you and nodded toward the little people in the back of your car. It was then you’d remembered the call with dispatch.
During the harried call, you’d inadvertently unloaded about your day from hell after requesting back-up to your location. Upon hearing your troubles, the dispatch crew had passed along a message to Tony (the driver) that you could use a pick me up. So, Tony had run with it and grabbed a box of donuts along the way.
Wow, talk about going above and beyond.
As your kids happily mowed down on some crullers, you’d begun to think about all the different companies out there. Competition is more fierce today than ever. In the age of social media, small businesses are in direct competition with global brands (but on a much lower budget) – how do they set themselves apart?
Well, the first way is focusing on making their clients feel special.
If we’re honest with ourselves we want two things from the business we’re loyal to:
- Recognition for the support we show through spending our hard earned money
But how exactly can you as a small business rise above the noise to make your clients feel special? Here are 25 ideas to wow your clients:
1. Keep your promises (it’s the least you can do)
The first step in how to wow your clients is simple – keep your promises. Sounds easy enough, right? Shockingly, it’s one of the most overlooked ideas to improve customer experience in small business.
Keeping your promises begins by clearly outlining the expectations for your clients – from their experience with you to any deliverables and deadlines (ex. Your client’s custom tattoo sketch will be ready in 48 hours and in their hands). The more clearly this is stated to your clients, the better. Vagueness leaves openings for misunderstandings, which can lead to disappointment.
Once you’ve laid out your promises, provide a detailed plan to your staff on how you intend to keep them, and it’s full steam ahead.
2. Surprise your client with the unexpected
Who doesn’t love a surprise? OK, there are a few of you out there, but let’s not focus on the negative here.
In your business, you can use surprises in two ways. The first is to give your client more than they were expecting. You don’t need to give away the farm to make a lasting impression, but we all love to feel like we’re getting a little something extra.
For example, let’s say you have a client sitting in your chair at the barbershop who’s there for a fade. As you’re chatting you notice his 5 o’clock shadow and for the last 15 minutes he’s been talking about how stressed out he’s been lately. How about offering a hot shave on the house?
With a little surprise, you’ll be showcasing your skills and helping to create a brand advocate who will spread word of mouth and eventually bring in more ideal clients.
Next up, follow up with your clients when they’re not expecting it.
Your shop will benefit in a couple of different ways if you start to incorporate this into your business strategy. Following up allows clients to give you positive (and negative) feedback, which helps you identify any possible problems you need to fix before they turn into huge issues.
For example, if you’ve added or changed a service that’s getting a lot of questionable feedback, it might be time to consider making adjustments.
3. Blow your clients mind with your psychic ability
I betcha didn’t think upselling was going to be a way to wow your clients did ya? Well, it’s super important your clients know about all of the services (and for some of you, products) you offer.
If you’re able to help your clients in more than one way (read: address multiple pain points) they’ll be happy to spend their money. The one caveat? You need to come from a place of service, not sales. The focus is on how to wow your clients by solving their problems – not padding your wallet. We can all smell a sales pitch coming a mile away.
4. Follow Miss Manners advice to the letter
It’s incredible how far a simple “thank you” will go these days – it doesn’t need to be complicated. The key is to put in some effort and be genuine. Here are some ways you can “thank” your clients:
- Send out a small birthday gift to your VIP clients (ex. a gift card to Starbucks)
- Write a blog post expressing gratitude to your client base
- Offer a discounted service for every “100th” client booked
- Deliver personalized notes to your clients thanking them for their visit to your shop
When you show gratitude to your clients, it sets you apart from the thousands of other businesses that take their patronage for granted. Taking the time to connect with your clients reaffirms their decision for choosing you.
5. And the winner is…a tried & true customer connection idea
It’s no secret people love free things. When you combine free with a giveaway – you’re a winner!
Here’s where you can reward the clients who’ve been with you since the beginning, “fans” that can’t get enough of your social media accounts or those who shout your name from the rooftops.
Whether it’s a special discount for your email list or a giveaway on Instagram, get creative, and reward your most loyal clients.
6. Show off your charitable side
If you’re looking for customer connection ideas that will wow your clients, think about donating in their honor. With social entrepreneurship on the rise and many people making personal contributions to causes near and dear to their hearts – this is an opportunity to set yourself apart.
Use social media to your advantage and check out which charities your clients are actively supporting. Once you’ve gathered some intel on your VIP clients, reach out and let them know how you’re going to be contributing.
Alternatively, your shop could hold an event where the proceeds or a portion of the sales get donated to a local charity. It’s a fantastic way to connect with your community and your clients.
7. Put the spotlight on the real stars of your business (no, not you)
There’s no better way to bring awareness to the culture of your business than through the stories of your clients.
How did the custom tattoo you created for a client impact their life? What was it like for them to go through the process? This is where following up with your clients comes into play. These personal stories showcased on your Instagram or website will highlight the experience felt in your shop and set you apart.
You’ll also find putting your client narratives front, and center online makes them feel valued. Your clients will be encouraged to speak with pride about doing business with you.
8. Build your business in a house made of glass
When it comes to your business, your shop, and your policies, it’s imperative that you’re an open book. Transparency builds trust with your clients. They want to be able to learn as much as possible about you and to be able to ask questions if they have concerns.
There are numerous ways you can show transparency in your business; here are just a few of our favorites:
- have a clear, easy to locate refund policy
- never reply with canned responses to your client’s questions (i.e., social media, email, blog comments)
- show your humanity (translation: always admit when you’re wrong)
- write blog posts that discuss the wins, the struggles, and tough decisions
9. Your mom was right – honesty is the best policy
Mom was right 🤦♀️; even those little white lies will catch up to you and bite you in the ass. Small business is no place for dishonesty.
If you run into a tight spot with a client, have the tough conversations early on. Lying or telling half-truths will always find you. To build trust and long term relationships, honesty is the best policy.
10. Want to improve my client experience? Just call me by my name.
We are so lucky in 2019. It’s easier than ever to have a personal relationship with your clients – whether that’s in person or online. The information you need to build a connection is right at your fingertips; all you need to do is set aside a little bit of time.
Social media has made this so easy (too easy if you ask me, but that’s a whole other post). Do a little research into your VIP clients profiles to check out:
- What do they like to do in their spare time?
- Do they have any important dates coming up (birthday)?
- Did they go on a wicked vacation recently?
- Are they obsessed with cats? Bob’s Burgers (nope, just me, I guess)?
Alternatively, you can also use your appointment scheduling software to make notes each time clients come in for an appointment (i.e., do they have kids, what products do they buy from you, when’s their birthday).
Using the information you dig up, it’s simple to send out a quick follow-up email that includes a little something extra:
- an e-birthday card
- a link to a blog or youtube video you think they might enjoy
- personalized follow-up care instructions
If you don’t feel comfortable going all in on the emails (or if you don’t send emails), you can use the details you found sleuthing to build a more personal connection with your clients in-shop.
What’s with all the customer connection ideas?
In a nutshell, it helps to build trust, which is numero uno when it comes to relationships.
11. Get out the shovel; it’s time to start digging (for answers)
Who are your clients, and what are they looking for when they come into your shop?
If you’re unable to answer these questions in extraordinary detail, it’s time to start digging. The more information you’re able to gather about your clients, the better chance you have to wow them with your services. Once you understand precisely what they need, you can expertly deliver a tailored solution.
12. Give appreciation to clients who showed you the light
I know you need to respond to those Negative Nellie’s as quickly as possible – but how about your raving fans? It’s time to reach out and say thank you to the clients who’ve taken the time to comment on what a fabulous job you’re doing.
But don’t stop there. The next step in the feedback loop is the implementation of client suggestions and follow up.
When a client suggests a new process/requests a new product in your shop, and you do it – are you following up to thank them? Show your clients you listen to them by reaching out when you make their suggested changes! We all love to have our voices heard whether it’s for a request, complaint, or a shout out of appreciation.
13. Beep, boop, beep, boop…Wall-E is that you?
There’s a reason that tellers still exist at banks and robots failed to overtake the check-in agents at hotels in Japan. Robots may be rad, but it’s hard to have a heart to heart with them.
While your clients want the convenience of automation (online appointment scheduling, peeping your portfolio on the ‘gram), they also want to be able to hit “1” to speak to a warm body when needed.
Show clients you aren’t a machine by having your phone number listed front and center on your website in case they need to connect offline.
14. …and the clock starts now!
We can’t be in more than one place at a time – no matter how fast we work. Let’s say you’re with a client in the shop when the phone rings. Front desk lets you know it’s one of your regulars with a quick question, but you’re already tied up, so you tell them you’ll call back. Minutes turn into hours, and now you’re in a sticky situation.
Your best bet is to help each client as quickly and efficiently as possible without undermining the quality of the in-shop experience. Training your reception staff to handle as many inquiries as possible, setting expectations with clients before situations arise and automating as many of your tasks as possible are just a few ways to minimize your response time.
15. It’s not your problem; it’s our problem
The “customers always right” headspace can be challenging – I get that. But we’ve all been in a situation when you have an issue you need help with, and the business you’re dealing with has either been horrible (99% of cable companies) or incredible (Warby Parker).
The difference maker? Empathy.
Take yourself out of your business owner shoes for a moment and put yourself squarely in your clients. Keep a cool head and try to remember an irate client may have just received terrible news, gotten into a fight with their partner or simply wants to vent.
How to wow your clients? Be the bigger person here; your clients will appreciate it.
16. Hit a client service home run on the first date
How much time did you spend getting ready for the first date with your partner vs. your dinner last Sunday night?
If you’re anything like me (and if you’re honest you are) times have changed, and not always for the better.
Wowing your first-time clients is very much like a first date. You want to make the best first impression you can – or they’re gonna swipe right and move onto the next shop in a heartbeat. You need to have your procedures, processes, and personality en pointe for that initial interaction – and if there’s any issues or concerns, jump in immediately to fix the situation.
17. Take “I can’t help” out of your vocabulary
If you’re looking for ideas to wow your clients then the words, “sorry I can’t help you” need to be banished from your vocabulary. No matter what your clients are looking for, you need to be prepared to offer up a solution.
When a client shoots you an email looking to get hair extensions (even though it’s not on your online booking page), don’t leave them hanging. Follow up with an email that has links to recommendations in your neighborhood explaining why they’re the best shops around.
You may not have been the right shop on this go around, but the next time they hear someone asking for recommendations on a barbershop in the area you’ll be first on the list.
18. Yo, did you just say what’s up?
I promised you we’d chat about personality and here we are. There’s nothing worse than landing on a website or social page and reading copy that sounds like Alexa wrote it up herself. I’m not going to go into a full-blown lesson on copywriting, but I am gonna give you some tips on how to chat up your clients in your DM’s, reply on social and connect via email:
- Inject as much of your personality as possible
- Always use the first name of the person you’re connecting with; when you don’t, it feels like you’re using a canned response
- Try to lean away from “I am,” “You are,” and turn towards the contractions you’d use in person (I’m, You’re). It’s much more familiar and way more conversational.
- Add a friendly PS to your emails that offer to help out again
19. The guarantee that’ll set you apart from your competition
Working in the service industry, many of us believe refunds don’t factor into the client visit. After all, you can’t return a tattoo or a haircut, right? Well, sort of.
Until you have name recognition, it’s extraordinarily hard to build trust, that’s why you have testimonials, reviews, and a portfolio front and center on your website and social pages. But what’ll really wow your clients is an unconditional guarantee. The option for a refund, at any time, under any condition.
If that sentence gave you the heebie-jeebies, it shouldn’t. Sure, there may be some people who’ll take advantage of an open refund policy, but the vast majority (especially your clients) are stand up people.
If you wholeheartedly believe in your service, your offers and stand behind your quality of work – there shouldn’t be any hesitation.
A guarantee that sets you apart from your competition starts with complete transparency. Your clients should go into your service with confidence in your process. If you fail to meet the standards (set by you), it shouldn’t be a surprise when a refund is requested.
20. I’ve got two turntables and a microphone (after hours is where it’s at)
Alrighty, this is a little more fun than all that refund talk. What better way to show your VIP clients how you feel than a little invite-only after-hours bash in the shop?
Here are some innovative ideas for your next client after-hours visit:
- A wine/beer/whiskey tasting with your fave local musical talent playing in the shop
- An in-shop DJ mixed with casual cocktails and mingling
- A retro-barbeque themed event and board game night
The idea here is to make it clear how much you value your clients. As a staff, put your heads together and personalize a theme that would wow your clientele.
21. Lower expectations and then hit it out of the Yankee Stadium (every time)
We’ve all heard the saying: you’ve got to under-promise and over-deliver. Well, it’s never been more accurate than when it comes to how to wow your clients. Securing your reputation as “the place to be” is as simple as exceeding their expectations every time. If you can resist the urge to over-promise and instead set clear, realistic expectations, your shop can knock out of the park every time – you’re golden.
22. Like, share, comment, DM (just don’t become a stalker)
It’s tough to admit, but we get a rush from every like, heart and comment we get on social media. It’s like a virtual high five in front of the high school cool kids.
If you play your cards right, you can be that flutter of excitement for your clients by liking or commenting on their social media feeds. Setting aside a few moments in your day to show you support your clients is an uplifting act that’ll wow them and set you apart.
23. Move your VIP rewards into 2019 with a digital upgrade
I don’t know about you, but my wallet is about to split George Costanza style if I get one more rewards card. Not sure if that says more about how much I shop or about the number of businesses who’ve jumped on the “rewards” bandwagon.
To stand out in the crowd with your clients, why not try moving your VIP rewards online? You can honor your socially savvy clients (at this point, aren’t they all?) with special announcements and exclusive promotions, and then you can stick around to help and answer questions about your services.
You’ll be able to create a unique system for earning and using social media loyalty rewards points. For example, clients could build points for:
- Using your shop’s hashtag
- Providing feedback via IG or Facebook
- “Checking in” on Yelp, Instagram
- Entering a contest and tagging a friend
If this seems too complicated for your shop, don’t fret. Your rewards program doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be as simple as offering clients a discount on their birthday or a free product on their anniversary with your shop!
24. Break out your most beautiful stationary and get personal (Nana would be proud)
When was the last time you opened your mailbox, and it wasn’t all junk mail and bills? Unless it’s a birthday card from your mom, I’m guessing it’s been awhile.
You can send an email any day of the year, but to stand apart and build up your brand awareness, try saying it with a handwritten note or card. It’s personal, unique, and easy to stay on brand – a win, win, win.
25. Go above and beyond to help clients learn something new
Let’s say you own a barbershop. How fun would it be to hold an event teaching single dads to style their daughter’s hair? They could bring their daughters, and you and your staff could help out by showing them how to use styling tools in a comfortable environment.
Your clients will be grateful you’re offering your time and skills – plus you’re providing a service to the community. The more connected you become to your clients, the more trust you build and the greater appreciation for your business.
The time has arrived for you to figure out how to wow your clients:
Today you compete against brands with global recognition and a massive marketing budget. It’s critical you give your clients an experience they’ll remember for more than 5 minutes after they leave your shop.
We want you to help you wow your clients through connection and convenience. With the BookedIN appointment scheduling app, you’ll:
- Be available when and where it’s convenient for your clients
- Give your clients more than they expected
- Eliminate your response time
- Reward your social butterflies by letting them book appointments on IG or FB
- And so much more….