It's All in the Details

It's All in the Details
by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and Swarovski crystal Ambassador,

There are many articles on selling your jewelry such as ''How to Make Money Selling Everyday Jewelry™'', ''12 Tips for Retail Craft Sales'' and ''Don't Be a Used Car Craftsperson'' to name a few. And many of us jewelry-making entrepreneurs are wearing quite a few hats these days whether it is an Etsy shop, brick and mortar store, website sales or shows. We are the boss, the accountant, the shipping and handling department, oh, and let's not forget we make the stuff as well! This is why some of the details can get lost or slip through the cracks--fear not, it's never too late to take a look at "best practices" in our business and re-emphasize those all important details.

Customer Service

From shipping options to hiring a web designer for your website, customer service is probably the most important aspect of a company. It's also usually the first area to suffer neglect. Proudly post your happy customer letters on your website. Making the initial customer sale is just half of the formula for a satisfying and successful business; bringing that customer back is the second half of the formula. Here are a few customer service tips:
  • Answer your phone or emails quickly. One of the main services that can set your business apart from others is how friendly and efficiently you help them out. I hear a lot of complaints from wanna-be customers that say they were ready to make a purchase, had a question or comment and never heard back from the artisan or owner.
  • Listen to your customers. In case you haven't noticed, most customers are not shy about telling you what they like and dislike. Make mental notes and ask them questions regarding your future lines. It's not always appropriate to be in "selling mode" relaying your "schpeel" about why they should buy that necklace. Listen...
  • Deal with complaints right away. This is probably the toughest detail to attend to with your own business. Pay attention to how stores handle you when returning something. Do they grill you with twenty questions making you irritated and uncomfortable? Or do they simply smile and handle the return easily? When you get a complaint, it's hard on the customer but harder on your ego so keep that ego in check. Remember it's not a personal attack and you don't need to respond with a defensive nature. Just try to see if there is a solution that will make you both happy. Removing any resistance to the situation you're feeling inside usually calms the customer down and keeps you on track.
  • Give a little more. Don't you love receiving a purchase with a little somethin'-somethin' thrown in; some candy or small gift? A little of that goes a long way with your customers as well.

Quality

Providing the best quality in your product line goes without saying. Try to avoid the three "Rs" at all times: Returns, Repairs and Rants. Nothing derails your day more than an unhappy customer's rant! Always offer the best level of quality components available. Fire Mountain Gems makes it easy to identify their "Designer Quality" items with a yellow bar. Don't forget to share your quality level with your customers using specific labels for 14Kt gold, sterling silver or ''Handmade in USA.''

Image

Clichés don't become clichés without a reason and one of my faves is, "Image is everything." Many years ago when learning how to ski on the icy slopes of New England, I had a ski instructor tell me, "If you can't ski well, at least look good trying," and he steered me to the nearest skiwear shop! Although jewelry-making is a far cry from skiing, it drives a simple fact home--"Image is everything." Look at our culture and how obsessed it is with how things look. I invite you to bear this in mind and take a new look at your product line and sales. Do you have professional packaging for your products? Earring tags, gift bags and gift boxes impress your customers and present a polished positive image whether your "shipping department" and "boardroom" is your kitchen table or garage! If you have a storefront or a booth at a gift show, keep that smile on. And if you're lucky enough to have folks impatiently waiting in line, smile wider! Its human nature to feel rushed and show your stress, but remember your image (and your employees' if you have any) sets the tone for an ongoing relationship with your customer base. They already like your product (see them standing in line?), so make sure they feel your appreciation by having fun with them and making the entire experience pleasant; easily done with a smile and chocolate!

Whatever your venue, the basic details remain the same. Incorporate them into your daily practices and you'll find a healthy, happy customer base in no time!

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