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Helpful Signs and Happy Customers

Aug 17, 2007
In 1971 The five man electrical band was belting out their famous, anti-establishment hit, Signs. I was 5-years old, and smaller than a peanut, but I remember my parents belting out the lyrics:

Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign

Hearing the song again this morning got me thinking about the role of signs in delivering great customer service. Part of "hitting the Grand Slam" and putting the thrill back into customer service is to greet customers sincerely. Does the greeting include signs? Absolutely!

Signs can be a great way to welcome your customers, or an instant turn-off if they convey the wrong message. Everybody remembers, "no shirts, no shoes, no service." In this era when customers evaluate us at every turn a message like that does not work. Below are 3 tips on creating signs that truly welcome our customers.

*Start welcoming customers when they come into your establishment. The greeting should start in the parking lot. At my wine stores in Chicago there was a sign above the entrance that stated: "Thank you for choosing Sam's." We're not talking brain surgery, but our customers thought it was a nice touch.

*Re-write all your signs to have a more positive tone: Do you remember those dreaded signs in urban lots that say how you will all but lose your first born if you park there? Re-write those signs! Make them positive!

I realize that some messages are inherently negative (like a towing sign!), but those signs can have a more positive tone, and so can your check writing policy. Instead of the title, "check policy" have a sign that says, "Yes! You can write checks. Please supply the following identification" Believe it or not, I've seen many businesses where simple changes like this can make for a happy, bustling store and workplace.

*Make the letters bigger, not smaller: Do you need reading glasses to read the signs at your favorite store? Signs are usually very difficult to read. As a start, read Paco Underhill's great book Why People Buy. There are a few things to keep in mind when designing signs. First, use big print. The population (and me, especially) is aging rapidly. Second, place your signs where your customers can really see them - below the chest and above the knees. Third, don't fall into the trap of thinking that tons of writing equals an effective sign. Some of the greatest print ads in history have had very little print. Most customers only give your sign two seconds. If you don't grab them, then they're off in the next instant, thinking about something else.

Remember, it is little things that count and count and add up to success that make customers happy and keep them coming back. That first customer touch point, your signs, is vitally important. It is the beginning of the game (to use a baseball analogy, and the team that scores in the first inning has the best chance of winning the game.
About the Author
Mr. Rosen served as President and Owner of Sam's Wines & Spirits, a family-owned business established in 1940. Mr. Rosen has founded Grand Slam Results, LLC, a speaking and training workshop firm. For more information, visit http://www.grslamresults.com
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