How do you make your customers feel?

Do you get annoyed when you feel your business has been taken for granted?

Art is one of those areas of business (if you earn your living or some of it from art it is a business!) where repeat customers are more common than usual.

Once a customer finds you or your work and they get your style, they’re quite likely to come back to you again.

(Remind me to consider how e-marketing and keeping in touch really pays off here. For now though, I want to think about how we make our customers feel when they buy something.)

Hopefully the inevitable buyer’s remorse passes, your art becomes a feature of your customer’s home and they get used to knowing they bought something unique and beautiful.

So they might come back and buy something else?

Here’s my characteristic digression.

I bought a tankful of petrol from an Asda petrol station last week. I was served by a machine (and me) so there was no human interaction. As soon as I’d filled, up the machine said ‘Next customer’. No ‘Thanks Mike for spending nearly 90 quid with Asda, part of the Wal-Mart Family of giant businesses that don’t care.’ No thanks of any kind. 90 quid.

If I’d sold something for £90 I’d damn-well say thanks very much, and I’m sure you would too.

So that got me annoyed. But then I visited a gallery I rarely go to (definitely not any of the galleries Jenny and I sell through as the owners of those are smart and civil and very likeable).
I overheard the gallery owner talking to a punter in the most patronising tones imaginable. The (potential) customer was made to feel like they knew nothing, and I winced to hear it.

Ok – maybe the lady didn’t know much about art (or about that kind of art) but she had a nice bag, nice shoes, and I’m guessing the nice Audi in the car park was hers, so she probably could afford to buy something.
Did being condescended-to make her more likely to buy?

No. The lady left. She’d spent at least 20 minutes there. She looked at a couple of pieces very closely, asked about the price, and asked if the artist had a website. So some buying signs, or at least ‘leave me your email address and I’ll add you to our newsletter list’ potential.

But she left.

Customers want to be treated like I do when I’m taking a serious interest in something. Respected, considered an equal, and engaged with. It’s not salesmanship, it’s courtesy and respect.

There may be things they want to know; or you can entice them into your art by hooking them. But let’s make a special effort not to imagine the customer knows nothing, or is just a punter who’d prefer the comfort of buying a print from a DIY store and is out of their depth.

Instead, let’s make a lifelong friend out of them, and hopefully a repeat customer who’ll tell anyone within range what a great artist you are, and how much they enjoyed finding out about your art!

Send me your artist horror stories or even your successes!
Mike

 

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