With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, people start thinking about their better halves, about love and all the things they can do to make that day special. But as a business owner, have you thought about how you can make your better halves, i.e. your customers, fall in love with your business?
We’re told that happy and healthy relationships make the world go around and that is also true in business terms. With customers’ increasing expectations and growing competition, it’s absolutely vital for every company to nurture and care for their customers. And it’s important to understand that more satisfaction will not be sufficient to spark the love between you and your customers. As the famous business author, Jeffrey Gitomer, says “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” So nurturing customer loyalty should be your main focus. A lot of businesses fail to deliver a great customer experience and that’s where you can swoop in and enchant those same customers to fall in love with your company.
And if you don’t believe us, here are some statistics to convince you :
Companies lose an average of 20% of their potential annual revenue by not offering a positive, consistent, and brand-relevant customer experience;
49% of executives believe customers will switch brands due to a bad experience but in fact, 89% already have;
90% of the British consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience;
92% of customers feel a poor service experience decreases their loyalty;
70% of shoppers have stopped buying goods or services from a company after experiencing poor customer service.
(Source of data: Oracle.)
The data speaks for itself. So here’s your 10 point guide on how to make your company irresistible to your customers:
1. Make building and maintaining a great relationship with your customers your number one priority.
No matter how small or large your business is, the customers must be at the heart of your company. Customers will know if you’re trying to use them and all you want from them is the sale. Although the sale is very important, put the relationship first and concentrate on that. Your customers will recognise your efforts.
2. Interact with your customers.
Have you heard the saying, “Happy customers are loyal customers”? Make sure that you resolve your customers’ issues in the best possible way. With the integration of social media into daily life, word of mouth spreads quickly and 44% of people will make a complaint via social media it if they have had poor customer service (Source: Oracle). At the same time, happy customers will tell 4 to 6 people on average about their great experience (Source: Salesforce.) Talk to your customers via social media as you would in person, treat them well and be genuine and then they will become your advocates. See below an example of how Visa interacts with their audience.
3. Concentrate on giving great value over low price.
As we have already established, customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Cheap prices won’t bring your customers back if they have suffered a bad experience or if the product or service wasn’t what they expected. However, nobody wants to pay a lot more for the same product if they can get the same quality of service elsewhere. This is why you need to concentrate on differentiating yourself from the rest by providing great value and amazing customer experience. Remember – your happy customers will share their experience with others.
4. Get curious about your customers.
Show real interest in your customers. Honest, but non-intrusive curiosity can help you understand your customers and find different ways to better help them. Using surveys, focus groups, social media or simple feedback forms can help you learn new things and make new connections. For example, at the end of last year, we asked our contact database to complete a short survey about their biggest challenges during 2013 and we will be concentrating on the most popular response in our communications with our prospective customers this year.
5. Always follow through on your promises.
You should always follow through on what you’ve promised your customers, whether that was in a verbal conversation or in your marketing materials. Your word is your bond. If you say that you’ll send them more information or a quote, make sure that you do that as soon as possible. You’ve already done the hard work and warmed them up, so why fail then when all you have to is send an email? If you offer a 100% money back guarantee, make sure that you can honour that guarantee. You have to remember that no matter how good you are, there always will be at least one unhappy customer, so be prepared to deal with them. In order to reduce the chances of making your customers unhappy, you need to ensure that you manage their expectations and set realistic goals that can be met. Another thing to remember is that you need to remain consistent with your message so your customers always know what to expect from you.
6. Continue to satisfy.
Once you’ve done the hard work of winning over your customer, don’t just cut all contact with them and concentrate on the next one. Nurture them. Continue to provide great customer service and amazing customer experience. If they have an issue – resolve it as soon as possible, in the best manner you can. Give special offers and discounts to your existing customers with the hope of an up-sell (if you’ve found out about your customers, you’ll already know what they need and want so can offer something attractive to them and profitable to you). But most importantly, make your customers proud that they’ve chosen you over the competition.
7. Be transparent.
Pretending to be someone that you’re not might work for a while, but your customers will eventually find out the truth and become alienated. Transparency is a must. The Dalai Lama once said that “a lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity” and this is very much relevant to business, especially in this digital age. Being transparent means that you are open and have nothing to hide and that you are not afraid of feedback. You need to be timely and have conversations with your customers as soon as issue arise, not days later. Transparency is about letting your guard down and admitting to the limitations of your business. It’s very hard to do, but this will help you connect better with your customers, and make them fall for your business.
8. Build and keep the trust.
People don’t buy from companies they don’t trust. To build a trusting relationship, you need to be committed and consistent. No matter how small or large your business is, inform your customers about any changes happening in your company, positive or negative. Be transparent about your mistakes as any sense of secrecy or dishonesty can scare your customers away. When you make a mistake, take responsibility and share how you’re doing to correct it, and always follow through. As Donald Porter, the V. P. of British Airways, says: “customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” But building trust is not a one-time deal and you need to prove yourself every day with your actions. Customers are more likely to trust you when they can predict your behaviour.
9. Your customer is King/Queen.
Your customers should feel special and unique, like snowflakes. And in order to find true love with your customers, you need to love them first. You need to remember that even on your best day you won’t be in alignment with every single customer, but whatever the circumstance, the customer is always right (even if they are not). More than half of your unsatisfied customers will simply leave quietly (Oracle) and later tell everyone they meet not to do business with you. So when a customer complains, take it as a golden opportunity. Deal with your unsatisfied customer with respect, share your point of view politely and don’t ever argue. Remember – they are the rulers, so whether they are wrong or not, find a solution to their problem and then correct it. You already know the value of a happy customer, especially the one that shares their experiences with other potential customers. And this is why you should love your customers first whether they are right or not.
10. Surprise them with a “thank you.”
There are many ways to show your customers how much you appreciate them and their business. A simple “thank you” can go a long way, but the unexpected acts of gratitude will definitely take you far. We call these “Critical Non-Essentials,” but if you want to enchant your customers, they are vital. There are plenty of tasteful ways to say thank you to your customers – sending a hand written note when they buy from you, giving them a birthday present or treating them to an invitation only event are just some examples. You don’t need to spend a lot of money if you are creative and really know your customers.
It’s no secret that if it weren’t for your customers, you wouldn’t be in business, so make sure that you do everything possible to tell them that. And at the end of the day, if you follow this guide, your customers will fall in love with you!