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December 1999

For Your Staff: Customer Relations

Connecting with Clients

Personal contact will give you an edge that electronic sales can't erase

In the age of Internet sales and home shopping programs, try not to forget one basic tenet: people buy from people, says Luisa Graff of Luisa Graff Jewelers, Colorado Springs, CO. Technology can take people away from interacting with each other just at the time they most crave interaction with another person.

Graff demonstrated the effectiveness of personal interaction by meeting and greeting each person who entered a seminar she presented at Professional Jeweler's PrimeTime Fall Marketplace & Conference in Las Vegas. Immediately, attendees began to speak with her as a peer and more quickly took her message to heart.

"I'm here to tell you obvious things," she said. "But you may not realize they are obvious – or your employees may not."

A survivor of a military coup in Peru, Graff learned how to empathize with people to survive, she told the audience. Jewelers need to do the same to survive in business, she said. "Find the needs of your customer and put him or her at ease," she said. "See life through the eyes of the customer, and you will have a client for a long time.

"When I first began selling jewelry, I was told I spend too much time with customers," she said. Twenty years later, she still sells to those same customers, though now they buy higher-ticket jewelry. In other words, talking with customers is critical. You should find out what motivates the customer in order to "match" his or her needs with what you sell and how you sell it.

Obvious vs. Subliminal

Here are Graff's suggestions for successful communication:

  • Greet the customer within 3 seconds. Everyone likes to be acknowledged.
  • Ask questions.
  • Learn about your product.
  • Use the customer's name as often as possible.
  • Vary the dynamics of your speaking voice rather than speaking in a
    monotone. Whispering gets attention at times, as does raising your tone.
  • The ambiance of your store imparts a clear message. You can match the music, decor, cleanliness, dress of employees, smell and light to the expectations of your customers. Graff bakes cookies in her store to give it an appealing scent and generate good feelings.
  • The attitude imparted by your employees comes across whether or not the employees know it. Try to leave aside the argument of the moment, or any other distraction, and focus on the customer as he or she enters the door.
  • Match your customer's body language.
  • Use open-ended questions.
  • Jewelry is romantic and ought to be sold with romance. "There is so much to romance in jewelry – the design, the stones, the setting, the reason for its purchase, the happiness it imparts, the way it looks on the wearer, the change in attitude it can create and many others," she said.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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