Melissa Piper NelsonA quick definition of ambience relates to the character or atmosphere of a place — the quality it seems to have. Ambience is one of five major factors identified with customer satisfaction as noted by Miguel Gomez, a Cornell University researcher, and mentioned by Penn State wine bloggers.

Presenting a clean and appealing retail space should be a top priority, especially in direct marketing situations, as it increases customer satisfaction, leads to referrals and good reviews, and encourages repeat visits.

Ambience takes into account all the sights, smells and sounds present at your marketing location. Taking an inventory of your operation, what do you personally notice about your sales floor, tasting areas or market stand? Would you, as a potential customer, feel comfortable in the space? Is it where you want to visit again and bring friends?

As consumers ourselves, we can identify with places that project an appealing image. Lighting, background music, how service people treat us, even parking projects a certain image that either engages us or sends out an, ‘I don’t know about this place,’ vibe. And, studies have shown that customer satisfaction relates to the volume of product sold.

A prominent local foods producer, who operates numerous market stands, including ones near the White House, is adamant that her salespeople be neat in appearance, cheerful in attitude and project a great, recognizable image. All marketing materials emanate from a key branding strategy across all advertising and promotional platforms, even down to one recognizable color on all signs, clothing and outreach materials. This producer ties ambience into marketing strategies and enjoys the favorable customer loyalty it garners!

The message then is be conscious of the surroundings you choose and project as they align with sales power. A view obscured by equipment or trash will not encourage customers to linger or return. Likewise, establishing a mood which matches your business’s persona should be an important part of your overall marketing plan. This goes for an online presence as well as your physical retail outlets, too.

Creating ambience is one thing, but maintaining it is just as important. If you work hard to create a good atmosphere for customers, ensure that it remains as such. Train employees to be aware of situations or problems that interfere with comfortable surroundings. Clean, unobstructed public spaces are important, especially in developing engagement with your customers. Outdoor terraces, indoor tasting rooms, direct market spaces and even festival tents project an instant image of your concern for customer care. Ever wonder why Disney makes such a point of picking up trash and keeping grounds immaculate at its theme parks? It’s because customers expect a certain level of care that comes with the brand.

Ambience equates with customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction equates to business success. Take the time to analyze your sales surroundings and develop and maintain an atmosphere that is comfortable and pleasant for all visitors. In doing so, you are ensuring the best destination experience and return on investment.

The above information is presented for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business counseling.