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Here’s How to Keep That Customer for Life

There’s more to customer service than just ringing up the sale.




AS A PAST BUYER for one of the top independent retailers on the West Coast, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and learn from the best and brightest in the business. This is the equivalent of getting a master’s degree taught by the best professors from not just one Ivy League school, but all of them. Needless to say, I’ve learned a thing or two and I’ve compiled a list of principles on exactly how the titans of the industry create a customer for life.

Listen with More Than Just Your Ears

First, take your time to understand their story, objectives, and any trepidations they might have. Listening with your ears, eyes, and heart will reinstate their confidence in you as a salesperson. Actively listening will keep the consumer engaged.

The Customer is Always Right — Even When They’re Wrong

There is a very fine line between making a customer feel like they weren’t wrong and helping them understand they weren’t right. It starts by realizing that telling them “you’re wrong” will NEVER make them happy. Stick to the facts and find alternative ways to change their perspective. A great way to do this is by sharing your own personal experiences that may be similar to something they have going on in their life. This helps you seem like more of a peer than a person selling them a product. For example, you have an upset guest because they continue to have issues with their engagement ring losing diamonds. Explain, “I’m so glad you came in today. I too had a ring with continued issues, and I made the decision to upgrade to a superior quality brand. Can I show you our highest quality brands and tell you more about how I can help?” Giving a personal example of your past pain points and experiences alongside a solution further builds the bridge of trust without telling them they were wrong for saving money and buying a lesser quality engagement ring.


Make a Friend, Guarantee a Sale

Chances are if your best friend is buying from you, you are going to do what is genuinely in their best interest and not what’s best for your pocketbook. Apply this principle to everyone and I promise it will pay off tenfold. Showing customer empathy and building a long-term relationship ensures that they are not only going to return to you for all of their needs, but they will also be telling friends, family, and even strangers about you, which will ultimately pad your wallet quite nicely.

Be Prepared

Be sure you are current with what your company has to offer and make certain to inform, emphasize and educate the consumer about your product’s quality, services, warranties, pricing, and how they compare to your competition. Know this information and think ahead about any apprehension a customer may have so if something arises you can be ready to resolve the issue by offering a solution and saying, “here’s what I can do for you …”


What better feeling than getting something extra with your purchase? Something as simple as a complimentary engraving, hand delivering the merchandise to meet a deadline, or simply sending a wedding or anniversary card is a wonderful way to build customer loyalty and leave them feeling that they made the right choice. It also gives you a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Employ these techniques and you can guarantee success. Remember, pushing a customer into a sale they might soon regret doesn’t lead to retention or loyalty. Sales are not the manipulation of the consumer — rather, they are providing a solution to their problem.


Jackie Johnson is the Vice President of Crabtree Consulting. Prior to joining Crabtree Consulting, Jackie had a successful career at one of the largest independent chains on the West Coast, where she was the Designer Bridal Buyer for over ten elite brands. Reach her at [email protected] or visit where you can set up a live chat or a 30-minute free consultation.



Thinking of Liquidating? Wilkerson’s Got You Covered

Bil Holehan, the manager of Julianna’s Fine Jewelry in Corte Madera, Calif., decided to go on to the next chapter of his life when the store’s owner and namesake told him she was set to retire. Before they left, Holehan says they decided to liquidate some of the store’s aging inventory. They chose Wilkerson for the sale. Why? “Friends had done their sales with Wilkerson and they were very satisfied,” says Holehan. He’d enthusiastically recommend Wilkerson to anyone looking to stage a liquidation or going-out-of-business sale. “There were no surprises,” he says. “They were very professional in their assessment of our store, what we could expect from the sale and they were very detailed in their projections. They were pretty much on the money.”

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