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The Customer Experience in Your Handmade Business

Too often we find ourselves getting a little inundated with what we should and shouldn’t do to build strong customer loyalty. Well, first and foremost, start with one thing; focus on your customer first.

The customer experience is one of the most important aspects of a business yet it can often be neglected. How someone interacts with your brand, regardless of where it is, be it on social media, your online store, or at a market, it can make or break your reputation.

Focus on your customer first to build a solid reputation and loyal following for your handmade brand. Pictured: Charlotte’s Lab

Customer Service

Your people, your service and how you respond to situations are all part of the parcel. Think about it, you go out to the local café with some friends, the fit out is awesome, the vibe is great, the coffee is amazing, but then your food takes a little longer than expected to arrive.

Twenty, 30, 40 minutes go by and everyone starts to get agitated. You see people’s meals come out that were there after you, now you’re feeling annoyed. You grab the nearest waitress to ask what the problem is, and she says, oh the kitchen ran out of eggs and had to run to the shop to get some. “WHAT?”, you think. Now what started off as a good morning out with friends has turned to chaos with everyone now on edge and, heaven forbid, HANGRY! The food finally arrives 45 minutes later, no one apologises, and you all leave feeling pretty angry.

The principles of good customer service are the same, whether waiting tables in a café or selling handmade products online or at a market.This type of scenario is common, and yet could be completely avoided. What happens from here on in, is that now a whole table has had a bad experience and then they tell others about that bad experience; cue the onslaught of negativity paired with a bad reputation.

Once you get that reputation, it’s hard to shake, so it’s important to knock it on the head prior to it getting out of control. So what could the café have done instead? Gone to the table, explained that there had been an issue in the kitchen, and ask if they wanted to change their order? If not, SAY SORRY and offer free coffees or something whilst they waited. Continuously keep them in the loop and again apologise when the food comes out. IF it does end up being that late, they could offer some kind of compensation to rectify the problem.

The same applies if something goes wrong in the order process in your Madeit store, whether a parcel has gone missing, an email was overlooked, or an order can’t be made and shipped within the designated timeframe, the solution is generally the same: simple communication.

How you communicate, respond and deal with things is inevitably what people will remember. If someone emails for a quote or a custom order, you’ll bet they’ll shortlist the first person to reply to them because they’ve shown them the time of day. It’s the little things that matter, and people remember how you treat them.

If you have staff, it’s also worth noting that your people are a direct reflection of your brand, it’s important that you drum into employees (or even your friend who helps out at markets) what they’re representing and what culture they’re part of.

Social media goes deeper than what people think.

Social Media

This one is important because, in most cases, people who are interested in your product or service will follow or like your socials for a few months before investing in you. Social media goes deeper than what people think. This is where values are shared, processes are shown, personality comes through and people want to know if you’re the right fit.

How your audience engages with your brand on socials is a direct reflection of the customer experience, even if they aren’t your customers yet. This is the first step to nurturing and educating. Don’t just post and sell, engage and build good relationships with your audience, they will become your biggest brand ambassadors. If you show full transparency in your business, your leads and current customers will feel as though they can fully trust you. Therefore, they’re more inclined to purchase from you, and even better, refer others to you.

Your digital presence forms a big part of your customer’s experience of your brand.

Digital Presence

How’s that web presence of yours looking? Whilst you’re building your social accounts, you’re end goal is to push them through to your online store, so how does it look and how is it engaging with your audience? Yep, you got it, your online store is another type of customer experience.
• If you have imagery is dark and out-of-focus, you bet that someone will just leave. • Product descriptions don’t tell your customers enough about your products or pre-empt their questions? Yep, see ya.
• You’re running a promotion and leading people to your store or product page and not a landing page on where they can find the information to the promo? Again, gone.
• The communication isn’t clear and it’s confusing? Buh-bye.

Make sure that in terms of navigation, information, communication and overall design, your online store is on point to give your audience a positive experience. If you’ve sold them on another channel (e.g. socials, email), you point them to your store and they have a positive experience, you’ve basically ticked 2 out of the 3 boxes in a selection process.

Apply the same tactics as the successful retail stores to engage all your customers’ senses.

Retail

Now, in terms of a bricks and mortar store, there’s a reason businesses spend big bucks on shop fit outs, because it’s how they want the customer to feel when they’re in there.

I’ve caught myself going into Dusk (the candle store) just to look around and feel calm. They build on the customer experience by making you use your senses, like low lighting that puts emphasis on their lit candles, which creates the mood. They also light their scented candles so you can use your sense of smell. It works you know, there’s a reason why you can smell subway bread as you walk past, it’s all a tactic called ‘scent marketing’.

The same principles apply to your physical presence at markets, pop-up stores and other events where you are dealing with customers face-to-face.

Music also plays a part; think about day spas and the relaxing waterfall sounds they play in the background, it’s all relative. What music do you play before you go out? What about when you’re trying to wind down? What about at the gym?

Hearing, smelling, seeing, touching, tasting, our senses help us to make decisions. Emotions are shaped by our senses; songs and tastes relate to past times in our lives. So how can you shape the experience to connect with your customers on a more emotional level?

Don’t forget to keep the loyalty of existing customers while you seek out new ones

Retention

Often businesses are so focused on trying to bring in new customers that they sometimes forget about the ones that already exist. Did you know that “It costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one?” Invespcro created this great infographic showcasing the stats.

Your current customers should be high up on your priority list. After all, they’ve already had that customer experience and are more than likely the ones who will be your biggest flag bearers. How can you show them a little extra love so that they feel valued?

This is where loyalty programs come in: things that are only on offer to those who have purchased from you before. Loyalty is where it’s at, if you can please your past customers they’ll keep coming back and keep sharing the good word.

Overall, these are just some of the things that can help attribute to a solid customer experience. Inevitably how you make your customer feel when they interact with your brand is important. So by thinking of them first, you’ll be able to figure out ways to create that experience, which will reflect positively on your brand moving forward.

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6 Common Pricing Mistakes & How to Price for Profit

Pricing; an icky, often uncomfortable subject for women in business, especially ladies who create from passion. When you pour your heart, soul and time into crafting beautiful products attaching a price feels like an emotional decision. It’s not.

Pricing has nothing to do with emotion and everything to do with business strategy. If you want to make an income from your business pricing is paramount. We need to separate your heart and your self-worth from the product you create, before we talk about how you do that let’s talk about why this is so important to your business.

6 Common Pricing Mistakes and How to Price for Profit: Find the perfect pricepoint for your handmade productsThis might surprise you. I have worked with literally hundreds of women in business and less than 1% overprice. You might assume that equates to 99% getting their price right but once again, nope. 1% overpriced, 5% get their pricing right and the rest underprice. That equates to the vast majority.

Why do the majority of women charge too little?

So many reasons! Here are just a few…

1) To compete against the big guys

The big guys have a very different target market to you. Their market values low prices and mass production over handcrafted and higher quality. You can’t compete with them and if you get your marketing right you won’t need to.

Hand-made Art and Design sign

2) You assume your target market is price driven

If I had a dollar for every person who has claimed “my target market can’t afford to pay more” I would have more than enough for a trip to Bora Bora. Everyone assumes their customers are buying based on price but it simply isn’t true.

There are many steps in the buying decision and price is just one. If customers are constantly complaining about pricing you have attracted the wrong customers. Case closed.

3) You have tied your self-worth to your product

Your product and your self-worth are two different entities. Tying them together in business is a recipe for disaster. Pricing your product is a mathematical equation and has nothing to do with how you value yourself and your work.

You are worthy of love (and money)

4) You asked the wrong people

One of my top ten pet peeves in business is women who ask “how much would you pay for this?”. Asking friends and family is bad. Asking random strangers in Facebook groups is madness. When you ask that question you’re often asking people who aren’t your target market, have no immediate need for your product and haven’t fallen in love with your brand. Don’t outsource your pricing. Ever.

5) You followed competitors

Yes, you should be aware of your competitor’s prices. It is a good benchmark for comparing your pricing but don’t assume they have any clue what they’re doing. I have worked with multi-million-dollar businesses that had terrible pricing strategies.

We all think everyone else knows what they’re doing and when competitors on Instagram say they have “sold out” we believe them. Instagram followers don’t equate to sales, not every post is true and most women are confused about pricing. Following competitors is often the blind leading the blind.

6) You don’t understand your business financials

One of the biggest bits of feedback I get when women take the time to understand their financials is “oh my, gosh I had made it so much more complicated in my head”.

Don’t avoid understanding the financial side of your business because you think it is complicated or you’re happy to leave it to the bookkeeper and/or accountant. YOU need to understand the basics or you will forever struggle to make money. How much it costs to run your business has a bearing on how you choose to price your products.

HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCTS – THE SIMPLE MATHS

Notebook and pen in front of an open laptop

1) Decide what your future plans are

If you want to eventually wholesale your product (to retail stores) you need to plan for that well in advance. It will affect how you price your product. If you eventually want to hire someone or outsource production that will also impact your pricing strategy.

2) Write down the costs to create your product

Get a pen and paper and all of your receipts and invoices and write down every single element that goes into to making your product including swing tags, packaging etc. If you’re spreadsheet savvy then start there.

*The costs of the components to make your product are called “Cost of Goods” or “Cost of Sales”. These are not expenses, we cover those soon!

3) Figure out your time investment

If you’re going to grow there is a good chance you will quickly reach a ceiling where you physically can’t create more product. For this reason, you need to know and understand what it costs in terms of labour to create your product so you can factor in hiring someone or outsourcing in the future. Know exactly how long it takes to create your product and attach and hourly rate.

Not the Ideal Pricing Strategy: Signs in the sand: “A Little Change: Please Could use som money, any amount appreciated. Thank You.”

4) Know the expenses your business has

Every business has expenses and once again 90% of the businesses I work with drastically underestimate this number. Expenses exist in your business regardless of if you make a sale or not, they’re not directly related to creating your product. Costs like electricity, phone, internet, website hosting, ad costs etc are all expenses. It is important you know what your monthly and annual expenses are. Your product sales need to cover these ongoing costs!

5) Have a goal and track results

Having a sales goal each month will help you see how close you are to being profitable and paying yourself. You also need to track your results each month to see what is really happening in your business. How many sales did you make? What were your expenses?

Let me give you a quick example; If you make a product that you sell for $100 but it costs $50 to make the product you make $50 in GROSS profit. If you sell 20 items at $100 your sales are $2000 but your gross profit is only $1000. If you have monthly expenses of $250 you will have a NET profit of $750 ($100 in gross profit – $250 in expenses).

Sales =$2000
Cost of Goods =$1000
Gross Profit (sales – cost of goods) = $1000
Expenses =$250
Net Profit (gross profit – expenses) =$750

You get to keep the $750 (you do have to pay income tax on that amount too).

Many product makers see the $2000 in sales and feel like they should have more money in their kitty but can’t figure out where it all goes. This shows exactly how it breaks down.

Tip jarA final word on pricing…

Customer will assume your price reflects your quality so underpricing can actually kill your business. I have worked with clients where we double and tripled pricing and sales skyrocketed because the price matched the customer’s expectations of what a quality product should cost.

Don’t underprice and don’t ignore your business finances! Getting on top of those two aspects will set you up for profit in the future.