The most powerful marketing arsenal that you already have and are not using

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Customer Service

As a small business owner, you have no time. I totally get that. When I owned a retail store, my days, evenings, nights, christmas and thanksgiving were all in the store. I had become a recluse. All I could think about day and night was getting footfalls.

During one of the busy seasons, my friend invited us to a party. Normally, my standard asnwer was almost always a no. But this time, my friend was insistent. So as a busy mom of two and a retail store owner would do, I looked at the invitation at the last minute just to make sure that we get there somewhat on time, not after all the wine is gone. 

As I opened the invitation, the words gold and black cocktail theme party stared back at me. For a second I panicked. I didn't have a gold and black dress, black dress , yes but that would have been blah. 
So I decided to sprint, literally! I had my manager take over, told her I had to run and with only a couple of hours left for the party, I ran to a lifestyle mall. 
I walked into one store, ran around the store and didn't find a goldish dress. I asked a woman standing on the counter and she just kinda sweeped her head 360 degrees and said no I don't think we have anything like that. 
I ran to the next one and as soon as I walked in, this associate came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I looked at her like she was wasting my time and told her that I was in a rush and I will find what I needed. 
I started to make my way around the store. Halfway there, not having found anything and the time happily bidding me goodbye and my heart sinking, I was almost resigning to that old black dress in my closet being the choice of the day. 
The associate made her way back to me and asked me again. This time, almost out of desperation. I blurted out that I only had an hour left to get to this party and I had nothing to wear. 
Boy, you should have seen how she flitted through the store. She picked up 5 different options and sent me straight to the fitting room. As I was trying the dresses on, she brought me the accessories to go with it (hint hint...up-sell!), the shoes to go with it. She even offered me water. And mind you this was not a boutique store. She asked me to step out and even gave her opinion. As it is I was in a rush and my brain decided to totally freeze up on me. So she literally chose a dress, the accessories, even the sandals (which I refused with mild force) ...come on who doesn't have black stilettos at home! And she even used a coupon that they sent to their loyal customers (of course she signed me up) and sent me packing almost ready for the party, all in about 20 minutes. 
Being a small business owner and consultant, I couldn't stop thinking about the customer service. 
A lot of times, we as owners are so caught up with getting new customers that we forget the single biggest advantage that we have Customer Service. 
Effective marketing strategies go hand in hand with customer service. 
There could be several other retailers selling the same thing you are selling. Customer service is where you can stand out. 
After my experience at that store, I definitely went back there. The cool thing was that all the associates in that store were as helpful and attentive. To top it all, smooth with their up-sells. So the manager was definitely training them right. Needless to say, I completely changed my employee training the next day.
Understand that true customer service transcends the associate. Build a culture in your small business of putting your customer first. Teach your employees to become attuned to the needs and behaviors of your customer. Once you build that structure, the current customers will become your brand ambassadors. They will become your free marketing tactic with intense results. 
Some of the ways to get started or restructure to creating an amazing customer service experience as your marketing tool-
1. Restructure your employee training in such a way that customer service becomes the prime motive. 
2. There is a fine line between being attentive and pushing. Make sure to give your employees clues and tips to understanding the difference. 
3. Do role play. Have your employees role play scenarios. 
4. Involve the customers in your store activities. Get your loyal customers to tell you what they are looking for. The kind of products they would buy and also not buy. 
5. Periodically ask your customers what's working and what's not. 
6. Build a rapport with the customers so that they feel personal when they walk into your store. 
7. Remember their names, especially your loyalty members. 
These are only some of the ways you can get your employees to be amazing at customer service, which will translate into word of mouth marketing for you. 


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