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Why Get to Know Your Customer?

Why Get to Know Your Customer?

In this fast paced world of instant answers and service by means of the internet, is there value in taking time to get to know your customers?  Most definitely.

In any new, potential client situation I think you should be interested in the type of business they have, what exactly brought them to your business, and uncovering what they are looking for, to name just a few.  How does this process benefit the potential client? 

The more you know about them, the better position you’ll be in to make accurate recommendations that fit their specific needs.  You may think you know quickly what their business needs are, but uncovering what is most important to your client should be your goal.

Find Their Point of View

I’m sure you have found that two people can be in the same situation and take away entirely different things.  This is true because we all have different backgrounds, likes and dislikes and situations in life.  You no doubt can think of examples in your own experience as you’re reading this right now.

I had such a realization on a recent trip to Yellowstone National Park.  After much advanced preparation and research, I picked a few short hikes off the beaten path for me and my husband to try, hoping to experience the “backcountry” to some extent.  Being that we are not regular hikers I picked trails just a few miles off the road to get the true feeling of Yellowstone.  The hike for the first day was labeled at a difficulty level of ‘moderate’ in a reference book.  That’s the first opinion. 

We hiked this trail and reached some breathtaking views over mountains and waterfalls.  At one point during the hike we found ourselves hugging a cliffside as the trail had grown narrow and steep enough to surpass our comfort level. Although we crossed it without issue, we did not return that way.  Opinion number two: a beautiful trail but potentially dangerous in parts!

The last opinion came from an employee at the Yellowstone Association.  She clearly was in love with the Park and in love with her job.  She knew the trail we had taken and commented that it was one of her favorites.  When my husband animatedly spoke of the “dangerous” portion of the trail her smile got bigger.  “Yea, it is kinda steep,” she grinned.  You could tell she loved it.  Opinion number three: everyone should hike this trail.

This variety of perception, all elicited from the same trail, got me thinking.  A consultation process endeavors to find the client’s opinion, their outlook, and their background.  It would be foolish to assume you know what they want or are thinking without asking.  You’re trying to find what really matters to them and show how you can help them reach their goals.

The Value of Consultation

Is consultation really always necessary?  For example, people come into our showroom asking for t-shirts.  Isn’t a t-shirt just a t-shirt?  Well, think about this: the reasons people come in and ask for garments can vary widely.  Is the client looking for shirts to give away at a tradeshow?  Or are they looking for durable shirts to outfit a landscaping crew?   Are they looking for a shirt that’s available in men’s and ladies’ styles?  Once you think about it, there’s a number of factors involved even in picking out a basic t-shirt.   I’m sure there are similar products or services considered ‘basic’ that you offer at your business, but that have more options than one might initially think.

This does not mean you need to barrage customers with twenty questions.  A few well thought-out questions will go a long way.  Listen to what they say and respond with further questions if necessary until you really understand.  Potential clients will appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

The Benefit to Your Customer

I remember a gentleman who called in to Midwest Stitch looking for embroidered caps.  He was calling around getting information and price quotes.  I initially asked him some questions about colors and styles.  When I received his logo I noticed it was very unique so I asked about his venture and the meaning of his logo.  None of our conversations were that long, but it was enough to understand what he wanted to accomplish with these caps.

The next day he called me and placed the order.  He made sure to mention that I was not the cheapest price quote, but I was the only person who actually asked him about his business and seemed to care about what he was doing.  It was for that reason he chose to give his business to us.

This really drove home to me the value of consultation and learning about clients before presenting a solution.  Show you care about them and their business and not just about making a sale.  Rather than selling a product, you will be providing a personalized solution.

Here at Midwest Stitch, all of our new orders begin with a measure of consultation.  We consider it the first step in our order process.  Apparel with your company logo will do a lot to enhance the look and image of your business, and we want to help portray your business exactly as you see fit.

So the next time you are tasked with a project involving logoed apparel, please tell us about it.  We’ll be delighted to hear your story.

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