June 24, 2024 I In the Trenches I by Cyph Shah

5 Things You Don’t Know About Your Customers

As retailers, we spend an awful lot of time focused on what we need to accomplish to keep the wheels turning. Wrapping your mind around the macroeconomics of it all is a huge task, but make no mistake that the micro-transactions occurring every day at your store are the backbone of it all. That’s why understanding your clientele can ensure both you and your team are able to engage your target audience in a way that encourages promoting growth where the roots touch the soil.

1. Customers know your shortcomings just as well as you do — if not more so.
This may come in the form of frequent inventory errors with your website, lack of phone support when they call in, or demo displays in your showroom that sit pretty but aren’t functional. At our DJ shop, Astro AVL in Glendale, California, we have to invest a substantial amount of time and energy into minimizing the occurrence of these very same issues. Things only get fixed if we know they require attention. We have dozens of active displays for customers to interact with and our shop is constantly evolving in layout so tending to our garden is a daily practice. We want to be recognized as the best DJ shop in Los Angeles, and we constantly fight for that privilege.

So how do you best approach this? Be humble. Let the customers who are brave or bold enough to offer you advice know you’re always open to improvements and that you welcome their feedback. Don’t drum up excuses, take it on the chin. An extra set of eyes are a valuable asset to learn about the cracks in your citadel that could silently erode the reputation you’ve worked so hard to fortify. Then actively investigate each ticket. Create a tracking system to ensure follow through. Delegate to your team so they understand the importance this procedure plays in your day-to-day operations. Maybe it’s that Pioneer DJ controller station that needs a firmware update or perhaps it’s that rarely checked voicemail inbox that leaves customer’s questions unanswered. Either way, use the opportunity to put a system in place that feeds a communal “to do” list. Frame that list as fodder to keep your crew actively engaged in putting your best foot forward. This is especially helpful during slow moments where they may feel tempted to reduce their productivity. And when that same customer returns to your store and sees you valued their input enough to act on the information they’re going to feel intertwined in your success.

2. They’ve formed opinions about each person on your team (including you).
Whether they realize it or not, the micro-impressions your customers receive from each interaction with you and your staff creates an imprint of what they think of your shop’s moral character and general vibe. Maybe they’re willing to look past one or two passively disgruntled employees, but when that number hits their threshold, they’re out the door. Therein lies the key to the crucible of trust and respect you so vehemently work to build. Be cognizant of this fact. Put yourself into their shoes before you let your other encumberments muddy the waters with the impression you left on a fresh face.

3. They’ve dated around and know your competition.

They’ve chosen to come back to you for a reason. It might be your killer customer service or your stock availability of highly sought after DJ gear, but make no mistake that repeat customers are shoppers keen on walking avenues in their best interest. By stepping in the door again they’re validating you’re a strategic part of that process. Use that perspective to embolden your team to the point of feeling pride and value, but not hubris. That will translate to more confidence when making follow up calls and closing sales. They’ll be less insecure in interactions, which means they’ll be less likely to default to unnecessarily offering a discount in an attempt to garner favor from the client. Be sure to calibrate as needed. No one likes a braggart.

4. Not all of them are interested in what you have to say.
And that’s okay. Most of your customers won’t know as much as you, some of your customers know vastly more than you on a specific tech or product. Just be comfortable with the fact that if they’re not asking you for an opinion, you don’t have to give one. Know the difference between empowering your customer and intruding on their decision-making. Heck, pipe down, listen up and you may even learn something new.

5. Just because they don’t say ‘thank you’ doesn’t mean they’re not thankful.
Maybe it’s the follow up email you sent that you never got a reply to. Maybe it’s the voicemail you left with their tracking update on their time-sensitive DJ equipment. Customers may not always respond to you or give feedback but those are the types of effort that tip the scales for a one-time customer to become a patron. Don’t rely on validation to keep consistent with that practice.

Like most sage advice given, it’s only worth a dime if it’s actualized through daily practice. So, take from this column that which appeals to you and find a way to integrate it into the roots of your customer relations mindset. See if it serves you well and, if it does, feel free to buy me a drink at the next NAMM show. Cheers! MI

Cyph Shah is the manager of Astro Audio Video and Lighting in Glendale, California. He is also the lead instructor of the DJ School (Astro Mix Lab) and designs/commissions AVL systems for nightlife, art exhibits, corporate showrooms, sports facilities and live performance venues as Astro’s installation foreman. He has performed across the country for more than 20 years as a club DJ and releases electronic music productions amongst international record labels.

More Ideas

See all