Three days each week I attend a gym class, called fit club. We do repetitions of various exercises - from squats to running to crunches to push ups and more. What makes the class unique is that we each move at our own rate - including speed and level of difficulty. We are all doing something different that works for us.
At first, I moved slowly and took a lot of breaks or pauses, doing the most basic versions of each exercise. As I got into better shape, I started doing the reps faster and required fewer breaks. These days I'll move a little more slowly, but I'll focus on making sure I'm doing an exercise position properly and I'm using the right muscles. For example, I'll go really low with a squat and hold it for a second or two before coming up.
I'm always moving at my own rate.
Many people I talk to about this class think I'm courageous to attend because I'm working with people who are very advanced. There is an obsession among us to be around people of our own level in a class, where we all move at the same rate. How do you learn anything new if you aren't challenged to go beyond your comfort zone?
I see the more fit classmates as an inspiration to get to that next level. The only pressure I feel in that class is the pressure I put on myself to do better next time. Even the instructor says each class, "Don't compare yourself to other people. Do what you can do."
He has a lot of people coming to class every week and everyone is seeing amazing results. (I know I am.)
What I have learned from this class: the key to repeat customers is that everyone needs to move at their own pace, without pressure to do too much, too fast. Customers should only do more because they want to.
Waiting tables teaches you a lot about customers -- how they don't appreciate hovering and eat at their own pace.
I helped a friend of mine with her restaurant by waiting tables on Saturday nights. I would get the tables to buy crazy amounts of food and liquor by simply educating them about the menu (when asked), offer suggestions (when asked) and not hovering. I'd stop by when I noticed empty drinks or empty plates. (For context, I'd have tables with checks typically at about $100 for 2 people, many weeks there were repeat customers.)
Basically, I followed the customer's lead to determine what they wanted next.
I have heard customers complain about waitstaff hovering. They often feel like they are being pressured to finish their dinners or a drink. Customers want to enjoy their meals in their own way - they want to know which options exist and make choices based on their own tastes, preferences and price points. They want to drive the experience.
There are times that I've gone to a store to buy new clothes or whatnot, and I'll encounter the over-eager sales person. I kinda love these types. So eager. So willing. So screwing up.
They don't realize that there is helping and there is pressuring. Helping is sharing knowledge. Pressuring is hovering - just being there watching your every move. Sure, these types of sales people are available to help, but at the same time, this type of sales person is pushing me into a sale. The best sale is the customer initiating the buying action.
I think this is why is there a trend for people not to call sales and get a bunch of information online. Customers don't want to feel pressure, so they will research online by themselves at their own rate. It can be hard to tell the pushy salesman to go away tactfully. Sometimes, it is easier to research online and avoid that confrontation.
When I go to visit the Kenneth Cole store in-person, I like that sales people will be around to help me, but at times I need to find them. Yes, it sounds like a game, but at the same time, when the sales person goes away, that's my time to make a decision to stay or leave. Sometimes, I won't wait and will leave. Sometimes, I want the item and will stay. That space helps me asset my opinion.
Yesterday I went looking at lofts to buy. I'm in the VERY early stages of the process, and I told that to the realtor. She told me that wasn't a problem and I should let her know what I'm interested in so she can show me properties as they are available. I didn't feel the need to buy - in fact, she discouraged me from buying that day. She made a point to tell me that one of the places needed an additional $50K to fix; and the other place was just too big given what I need. That's why I am now looking for a collection of locations and want to call her again. She was helpful - not hovering.
How much do people not like to be pressured?
- 81% will research what they want to buy online before heading out ot the store, spending an average of 79 days gathering information.
- And they will use multiple channels to research - online research to in-person shopping or in-person browsing to online shopping.
And there is an infographic that confirms this - with reputation management included.
So why do all this research online?
- Convenience. Someone can research an object any time he wants, 24/7. The Internet is always on and available. It's easy.
- Varied perspectives. There are a lot of opinions someone can access to determine what each brand offers, how something works, what it does, and in the end, what's right for him. Internet research offers a larger perspective of any situation, from buyers to manufacturers to distributors - not just the perspective of a single sales person or a store.
- No hassle or hovering. Customers can research and learn about what they really want at their own rate. This is why online chat is awesome - someone can read and ask questions without an obligation to take action. If the chat person gets too pushy, the customer can close down the discussion. Simple. No hurt feelings, no difficult confrontations or conversations. A customer can figure out what he wants without pressure.
Making a customer feel relaxed and know that it's ok to take his time to make an informed decision, and do what's best for him is key to a great customer experience. The customer needs to dictate the pace of the sales cycle - it keeps him coming back for more.