Doesn’t it sound like a dream, finally boss the customer around? Tell them what to do for once? Be able to demand that they do this this and this, but DEFINITELY NOT THIS. Oh, what a dream. Well, that’s all it is. A dream. Because as I’m sure you can guess, the results will make for a nightmarish outcome.
Don’t Give Your Customers a Set of Rules
My husband and I love Korean BBQ. Like, willing to have our clothes smell like BBQ for days kind of love, willing to spend 2+ hours $50+ eating 4+ rounds of bulgogi and spicy pork kind of love, and make sure you go to the bathroom before we get there cause going to the bathroom makes you question your food choices, kind of love. So last weekend when we were having our monthly date night, we decided on Korean BBQ. But something that was unheard of… we were going some place new. We were going to betray our mutually loved restaurant for this new happenin’ place. Seeing as it was minutes down the road instead of 25 minutes away and in an area that we were sure we weren’t going to be mugged in, we caved.
As we walked into the BBQ fog I felt a sense of comfort. Sitting down to a true table inset Korean BBQ grill instead of the usual tabletop propane burner I felt a sense of thrill. Then seeing all the sesame oil laden accoutrements being delivered I felt a sense of exhilaration. And then, we were delivered “The Rules.”
Although it wasn’t stated as such, the menus were basically a set of All You Can Eat rules. The list was long, and confusing. You can only have one serving of ribs. But wait, if we pay for the Level 2 version of the all you can eat that includes ribs, does that still only mean one serving of ribs? Or is that only for Level 1? It became one of those side by side matching games, which rules matched which levels? And ok, it’s only 1 soup and 1 steamed egg, but what about the other sides? Are those only 1 serving as well? At our usual place there wasn’t a listing of anything being only one serving. It was just an understanding. The egg and soup are the specialty item that you order. The sides come to you randomly, but you can ask for another serving.
We spent the entire night asking each other what was ok and what wasn’t. And the waiter too. We kept saying, we would like another order of this. But is that ok? Is that not ok? It just got awkward. And there was a 2 hour time limit as well. So we started watching the clock. And trying to figure out exactly when we had sat down. It all left a bit of an unfriendly feeling over the night. My husband still loved it, and I loved the food. But the experience, I have to say I preferred our old haunt. There aren’t rules or regulations. Just an understanding of the way things go. And a really good time.
How to Tell Your Customers What to Do
Now, I’m not saying that customers won’t take advantage of a business. They will. That’s just in some peoples’ nature. But, what can end up happening to make sure those few don’t take advantage of you, is you turn off the vast majority who would never even conceive of that. By setting a set of strict and unfriendly rules. So don’t persecute your good customers for the misbehavior of a few.
Instead, lay out clear options. Tell your customers what’s included with their package rather than what’s not. With the BBQ menu, they could have tried something like this. Level 1 – Bulgogi, spicy pork, and spicy chicken, 1 steamed egg, 1 soup, unlimited sides. Level 2 – Bulgogi, spicy pork, spicy chicken, and spareribs, 1 steamed egg, 1 soup, unlimited sides. Level 3 – Bulgogi, spicy pork, spicy chicken, spareribs, and pork belly, 1 steamed egg, 1 soup, unlimited sides. Now you know exactly what you can order. Not what you’re not allowed to have.
Create Clearly Understood Packages
Do the same for your design customers. Focus on what they can have. And state it clearly. We assume that people understand the “don’ts” just as well as the “do’s.” But it’s not true. People often misunderstand don’ts. Sometimes they don’t even notice the don’t at all (and end up doing exactly what you told them not to do). And they don’t always know what the opposite of that don’t is. Like raising a child. “Don’t pick your nose.” “Ok, mom, but, what do you want me to do? Cause there’s something itchy up there and it’s got to go.” “Use a kleenex to pick your nose. And pick your nose in the bathroom.” Ahh, ok. Now I understand.
So, if you have customers asking for things that are outside of your normal realm, create packages. Either custom or ones that you consistently present to people. Level 1 package includes – 1 visit to their home, a presentation at your office, bi-monthly emailed updates on project status, and delivery of each item individually. Level 2 package includes 2 visits to their home, a presentation at your office, a meeting at your office to update project status, weekly emailed updates on project status, and warehousing of each piece and a final reveal day. Level 3 includes 2 visits to their home, a presentation at your office, a customer ride along shopping trip, 1 meeting at their home to update on project status, weekly emailed updates on project status, and warehousing of each piece and a final reveal day.
Focus on What Customers Can Have not What They Can’t
For the rules that you do need to give customers and don’t naturally fall into a package, state them in a friendly tone. And in a way that gets them to do what you want. Not what you don’t want. If you can. “The best way to reach me is calling between 9 and 5 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesdays I’m out of the office spending the day with my daughter so my phone is off that day.” “If you’d like to shop for the items I’ve presented to ensure the best price, my Premium Package is a great option for you. It includes a shopping list for you.” “Customers who would like to do a sit test and shopping trip are welcome to with the VIP Experience Add on.”
Some don’ts are impossible to work around. Some don’ts are going to be in your contract. And that’s ok. But don’t overdo your don’ts. No one likes to be cornered. Or told what they can’t do. Or what they’re not allowed to do. People don’t expect to be bossed around by the person they’re paying. Customers naturally feel that if they’re giving you their money, there is an understanding that they can ask for a reasonable amount of service and special requests back.
Sometimes what’s reasonable to some isn’t reasonable to others. I understand that. But if someone gets out of hand, it’s better to address that as a one off. Rather than scaring the crap out of all of your potentially great customers with your laundry list of customer rules. Ones you give them as they sit down for their introductory meeting. So review your on-boarding/initial meeting documents, your typical verbal presentation at the initial meetings, your copy on your website. See if you can’t make some tweaks to make it more friendly, more positive, and more inviting. And try to trust in the fact that most customers won’t sit down for 8 hours, eat all of the steamed egg you have, and order 18 rounds of spareribs. Cause that’s just ridiculous.