Cheddar Cheesy

Guest Post by Shakirah Dawud

It’s not a good idea to search for a doctor online.

I told my mother that when she asked me to. She agreed. And I began my search.

After three days, I handed over a grand total of two name-and-number pairs. “They had good ratings,” I said, somewhat helplessly. My mother nodded at the strange syllables and locations.

And she still hasn’t called them.

This is what is happening to most of your visitors, buth online and offline.

They discover your name, your shop, or your number somehow. They note your information. And they leave, never to return. Yes, even if you have “good ratings.”

You see, you have this vague idea that you want to be known as “fast,” “smart,” “caring,” or “cutting-edge.” I know because you put it on your business card. Plenty of your customers say you are, too.

But those are the same words my old hired pro – yeah, the one I just left in search of a new one – loved to decorate his brochures with. But guess what? I’m looking for something different.

I’m looking for the things customers say about you that they don’t say about anyone else.

I want to know there are free snacks in your waiting room.

I already know you could solve my problem for me, and solve it well. But as long as there’s the possibility that I’ll like having someone else solve it for me better, you’re second string.

Second string gets the “customer” face.

You know, that blank, “why don’t we keep this easier by not caring” face. The one that results in bland testimonials you have to ask for, neutral (if any) feedback, and the lack of compunction about suing you within an inch of your life.

Here’s the thing: my first encounter with you is generally going to be through two kinds of words: words you’ve written or approved, or the words someone else uses to describe you.

But the delightful specifics in your policies, office layout, personnel makeup, and location – not as they relate to you, but as they impact your customer’s life – will put you at a great advantage.

Which is more convenient? “We’re close to the Metro,” or “You can see our sign from the Metro station.”

Which is more reassurring? “Every member of our team is highly dedicated,” or “We work long hours so we can get it right the first time.”

Which is more homey? “Make yourself at home,” or “Pick a new release to watch while you wait.”

You don’t have to call yourself “Dr. Dolittle” or wear Willy Wonka’s purple coat.

But every customer has a preconceived notion of who you are, the quality of your service, and even your office color scheme. If you project nothing more than a reflection of those expectations – even the very highest – to your customer, THUNK!

You’ve got a lot of baggage to unpack before you can get down to business.

It’s in the lobby.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Baxter, courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.0.

Shakirah DawudShakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web.