Today’s consumer has more buying choices than ever before. Many, without even realizing it, have taken on an attitude that asks, “What’s in it for me?” Although this might initially sound selfish and one-sided, it’s become a broad-based attitude shift with shoppers and it has to be addressed.

This fundamental attitude dictates all their actions while going through the shopping process and it’s the same with every purchase, big or small. The only thing your customer is thinking is, “What’s in it for me?” The only thing he or she cares about is, “Will this work for me?” And, just because you might be partial to a specific brand or certain model, that doesn’t mean the market will share your attitude.

An example: let’s say a customer is looking to buy a new PA system and he or she has narrowed the decision to two set-ups. System A is $6,500 and System B is $5,500. All things being equal, which one would you buy? Well, System B seems like the logical choice at $1,000 less. But, unless the gear is 100-percent identical, not all things are equal and, as a result, one system has more value (to the customer) than the other does.

It’s your job to make customers feel better about their decisions and provide them with positive reinforcement for buying the right system for their needs. How do you accomplish this? By asking questions.

Unfortunately, the lighter system comes with a premium because the more expensive package includes the less bulky components. The question then becomes this: is System A worth the increase in price to the customer?

Through thoughtful questioning, you reveal that the customer intends on using the system primarily for mobile DJ work and the overall weight of the equipment will be a major influence on the buying decision. You also discover how many events the customer does each week, and that he works as a one-man show, drives a smaller minivan and performs at a different venue every week.

This would indicate that the lighter package would have more value due to its flexibility and ease of transport. By helping the customer think it through and proving the value of the logical choice, you will help sway the purchase decision—and make the customer happy with his eventual choice.

Remembering to put yourself in the customer’s shoes by asking, “What’s in it for me?”, enables you to more effectively qualify and satisfy customers’ needs with the highest quality and perceived value of your products and services. Let them feel like they win in every aspect of interacting with you. From the moment they drive up to the store to when they unload their purchases at their home, creating the best customer service experience satisfies the “What’s in it for me?” mentality.

Conversely, if even a small part of the experience is looked upon badly, you will lose the customer. It’s not always about your prices or what you stock, either! Other components, such as the cleanliness of your restrooms, the ability to find ample parking, the friendliness of your staff, and the overall look and feel of the showroom, can sway a customer’s perception of the value your products and services truly offer.

When it comes to creating the best possible customer experience, no detail is too small. An early mentor in my music sales career, Jack Walker, always said that we must “pay attention to detail.” He advised to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and walk the store daily…both inside and out. As the owner or manager, you should spend time every day in the same areas that your customers do, listening and observing. Whether it’s the sales floor, lesson waiting area, restrooms or parking lot, go there and put yourself in their shoes.

Assess what they see, hear, touch, smell and what affects them physically, such as temperatures, lighting, etc. The feeling this combination of controllable elements gives every customer at any given moment will have a profound effect on sales. Get your staff involved by providing them with a weekly or monthly “creature comfort” prize for the best suggestion on how to improve the overall customer experience.

Creating the best possible customer experience is not limited just to the brick-and-mortar store. Don’t be afraid to get social. This means regularly scouring your social media pages, looking for positive and, more importantly, negative comments. The key is to take action immediately on both. A simple “like” or a “thank you” goes a long way. Additionally, if you need to address something negative, make an overall positive comment so everyone sees it, and then contact the person directly. If anonymous, ask him or her to contact you via phone or e-mail. By showing that you are taking positive and immediate action on the complaint, you will validate that you care about your business, its customers and their shopping experience.

Too many retailers are so focused on making the sale that they tend to overlook all the other ingredients that build customer confidence and loyalty. Creating the best possible customer experience that accompanies the purchase of your product or service is not only crucial but, indeed, it can be more important than the actual product or service itself.

Creating a positive and unforgettable shopping experience will set you apart from your competition. An added benefit of overwhelming your customer will be the ability to charge premium prices for your products and services. When customers feel like they are getting more for their money, they are willing to pay more. The more often you provide a shopping experience that is exceptional, the more likely you’ll create customers for life.

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Cutting-Edge Solutions. Their e-commerce products, The Generator and Pro-Active Websites, are utilized by leading vendors and retailers within the music products industry. Contact him at

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