I’ve been thinking lately about my experiences as a customer.

My husband and I recently bought a new BBQ. A Weber if you’re wondering. Our old BBQ, that was my first purchase when I moved to Queensland over 17 years ago, finally quit. Inconveniently BEFORE I cooked dinner, but that’s a separate issue…

Anyway, we had been talking for a few weeks about replacing it and decided to wait a couple of months. It was winter, I was travelling a fair bit, we weren’t really going be using it much until probably late September/October.

why i bought a Weber

Then, one day in July, I was waiting for a client outside a new-ish outdoor store that sold funky looking furniture and Weber BBQs. I knew nothing about Webers, except you need to use coals to cook with them. Or so I thought. Not a feature I was seeking #takestoolong

Anyway, I was a bit bored so I went in. The sales assistant (who turned out to be Ben, the owner of the store) immediately made me feel welcome. I explained about our dead BBQ and asked if could he tell me a bit about the Weber. Apparently called a Weber Kettle. Yes, I giggled.

My interest escalated when Ben started to tell me about the cooking with gas range.

Within minutes of his non-salesy sales pitch, I was convinced a new Weber was what we needed, and we needed it NOW. So, what convinced me? These things:

  • I told him we weren’t ready to purchase for a couple of months and he completely respected that – he also didn’t walk away with total disinterest, but valued me as much as a customer he thought was going to buy right there and then, and yes, there were quite a few other people in the store
  • He asked thoughtful questions to find out what my problem was – beyond not currently having a BBQ. He wanted to know how often we would use it, for how many people in our family as well as how often we entertained, where it would be located and how much space we had for a BBQ, and he based his suggestions on my answers
  • Ben’s product knowledge was excellent, largely because he had owned a Weber for many years
  • He was extremely passionate about Webers, BBQing and cooking in general
  • He shared recipe ideas with me that had me salivating
  • He didn’t try and sell us the most expensive model – or the smoker that I almost drooled over… possibly because he heard me tell my husband that would be a good future gift idea!
  • And finally, he didn’t make too many bad jokes about my name!

This all took about fifteen minutes, at which point my client turned up so I thanked him and left.

The next day I returned with The Accountant and, as they say, the rest is history.

Why is this important? Well, customer service is critical – 58% of customers won’t give a business any repeat business if they have had a bad experience. Conversely, friendly customer service can make you fall in love with a brand.

So what can you learn from my Weber shopping experience? Well, a few things:

  • Don’t discount a customer who isn’t ready to buy immediately. The purchasing decision takes a lot of time for some people – and often, the more expensive the decision, the longer the time
  • Get to know the real problem and any surrounding issues. For me, yes, it was the obvious problem of not having a BBQ, but another issue is that we are moving into an apartment in the next year or so, so I wanted a BBQ that took up a lot less space than the large four-burner that carked it.
  • Don’t crack too many bad jokes at the customer’s expense (should be obvious, it’s not!)
  • Don’t assume gender stereotypes – again, should be obvious… Again, it’s not. #sadface When selling a BBQ, don’t assume it’s the man’s domain. Mine cooks scrambled eggs and that’s about it. And not on the BBQ!
  • Share stories and authentic experiences – Ben shared his recipes with me. That had me thinking about what I could cook on my Weber. And how quickly I could eat it. I immediately stopped focusing on what sort of BBQ to buy, and instead started focusing on how quickly I could BBQ a steak and what salads I would serve with it.

As my friend Dr Emily Verstege says, “humans buy with their hearts, not their heads”. Ben connected with my heart as soon as he started talking about food. Yep. It can be that simple.

So have a think about how your service can better connect with your customers’ hearts.

Mel Kettle works with associations, not-for-profits and businesses to help them communicate effectively and authentically so they connect with their customers. To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or click here. To download Mel’s short guide on How to Use Social Media to Recruit, Engage and Retain Members, click here.

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