Ambiance goes a long way to influence customers to purchase. We are all familiar with the idea of “setting the mood.” Try to consciously set the atmosphere for your clients and employees. Remember that your employees’ experience at your business is as much a factor in your customers’ decision to buy as the product. Don’t pour hundreds into the product or the presentation and ignore those who sell it.
Since many purchases are emotionally driven, recreate the emotion that defines your product or service. Ambiance is powerful because it directly influences the intangible emotion of the customer.
So, let’s look at six ways you can improve the atmosphere in your business or office:
STEP 1: Presentation, presentation, presentation: The old adage is still true. People are attracted to a powerful, clean presentation. Make sure everything from product to pitch is clear and unambiguous. Also be sure your product and those who sell it reflect the same presentation. Your employees and how they interact with the customer contributes to the overall ambiance. Try to create a unique experience for customers and employees.
STEP 2: Theme: Create an office theme, kind of like a team name with your company slogan as your official cheer. For instance, you could pattern your office theme after a baseball team. Placards on cubicles or name plates might assign different employees as a “catcher,” or a “pitcher.” It doesn’t always have to be a sports team, you could even choose a theme from a movie like “The Breakfast Club” or “The Lord of the Rings.” Even your clients will get into the spirit and recognize your office as a unique place to do business. It is better to stand out than blend in; nobody wants to be just average and neither should you.
STEP 3: Music 101: Perhaps the most obvious tool you can use to create atmosphere is only an incredible mp3 collection or mix tape away. Put as much thought into your music selection as you would if were creating a slogan. Consider how you want that customer to experience your product or service. If your clientele likes rap or hard rock, you might not want to play classical music. Consider what would create an epic aural sensation appropriate to your client or employees.
STEP 4: Team building traditions: It is important to create team building traditions for which all of your employees can participate. A Team building tradition must be recurrent in shorter cycles for it to be effective; therefore, yearly activities are insufficient. Try to choose an activity (or activities) in which everyone can enjoy and interact. Be mindful of cultural differences and physical constraints for disabled employees. Everyone wants to belong and feel they have contributed to the team. Even the most self-involved are not completely immune. Smart employers know this and are keen to take advantage of this basic phenomenon to improve employee morale and output.
STEP 5: Public Rewards: What is it that people crave more than money? Recognition. Recognize your employees who are doing a great job—from the CMO to the janitor. Reward employees after a big project or account. This does not have to amount to an exorbitant financial investment. Reward with tickets, gift certificates, t-shirts, gift cards, or cake—Get creative! Publicly reward customers as well. For instance, if you have a birthday club and a customer makes a purchase, be sure they leave with a balloon and a gift certificate and serenade them with a house rendition of “Happy Birthday.” While big year-end bonuses are great, large paychecks and bonuses alone will not create loyal employees. It may seem counter-intuitive, but if the 2008 Wall Street meltdown has taught us anything, it is that a large paycheck does not make loyal employees or team-players. Be aware of the kinds of sticks and carrots you use to motivate your people.
STEP 6: Reward Behavior: “The pay is great, but working there is like swimming in a sea of sharks.” Does that sound like an office or company you know? People duplicate the behaviors for which they are rewarded. It doesn’t matter if the music is great, the pay is nice, and the office has a theme, if your employees hate working there and must claw and fight their way to a promotion. Reward the kind of behavior you want in your office. If Johnson helps Williams to finish a project on time, publicly recognize Johnson with tickets. If the controller finds a financial discrepancy, publicly reward her with a gift certificate and indicate specifically why she is being rewarded. The same for customers who are repeat patrons. Have a reward for the customer and their friend. Ask them for a referral and be sure to reward for it!
Creating a positive atmosphere doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a conscious effort on the part of management. If your workers are severely underpaid or your products are of poor quality, it will be difficult to convince the customer of the particular ambiance you seek to create. Every day you will have an opportunity to make choices about atmosphere. If you keep these six tips in mind, you can create a great environment for both customers and employees.
Even if you are only a single employee, you can still implement some of these ideas. Create your own atmosphere (Brand). Your personal standard of quality will eventually translate into success, promotion and recognition.