Customers are the fundamental backbone of any business. Their continuous business ensures that your business remains successful going into the future and so it’s worth investing time and money into maintaining positive relationships with them and ensuring they feel valued.
Developing amicable relationships with your customers brings about a range of benefits including brand loyalty, customer retention and ambassadorship. All of these benefits are more than sufficient reasons for you to understand just how important this focus should be for your business. Moreover, it has been found that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one, so it will ultimately save you money in the long run too!
Below are a few tips to help you ensure your customers feel valued and appreciated when conducting business with you.
Interact Personally with Customers
According to statistics, happy customers will on average tell between 4-6 people about their experience with your business. To ensure that your customers are happy and are going to be saying the right things about your business, you need to be interacting with them in a way that’s personal and memorable. These days customers don’t want a copy and paste response that simply does the job. They want to feel like they are being addressed as human beings, by human beings. In order to do this you need to be using their names, using employee’s names (eg. James from support vs. Support) and speaking to them conversationally when appropriate.
Respect Your Customers
Dealing with customer complaints is not an easy task. Sometimes the customer isn’t always right – but for the sake of your business, you should always interact with them as though that they are. While it can be frustrating dealing with difficult customers, you need to ensure that you are always interacting with them in a respectful and polite manner, no matter the situation. According to statistics 58% of people who experience bad customer service tell their friends – which is a quick way to ruin your business’s reputation. This means that addressing complaints and resolving conflicts is paramount to the success of your business. Remember to listen and be patient – allow the customer to say what they need to before you respond. You want them to leave as happy customers so give them the answers they want if that’s what it takes, or at least make them feel like their issues are being heard and addressed.
Ask for Feedback
Customer feedback is an invaluable tool for any business and yet, some businesses still choose to avoid it. Whether it be fear of negative response or simply the belief that no-one knows more about their product/ service than they do, it sets back their business and means that they lose the opportunity to really progress their business. What people fail to understand is that it’s not the feedback itself that matters – it’s how you use it and where you go from there. It gives us an opportunity to understand a customer’s motivation, as well as their needs and desires. The real endgame of feedback always has been, and always will be improvement and innovation, as well as customer retention, loyalty and referrals.
A few methods you could use to gather feedback could be:
- Comment Boxes: Make these boxes easily accessible both in store and online for customers to send their feedback to, whether that be questions, concerns or praise.
- Online Reviews: People love to review things online. Invite users to leave reviews about your business and provide them with the option for anonymity.
- Social Listening: Use your social media accounts to ‘listen’ in on what customers are saying about your business online. Interact with customers to get a good understanding of what they are saying and suggest resolutions to their problems. Hootsuite is a great tool for that.
- Website analytics: If you have an online business, track your website analytics and get an understanding about which of your services are most popular, where your traffic is coming from and what your demographic looks like. Google Analytics can be useful for this.
- Usability Testing: Test out your services on other employees, family and friends or third-party outsiders in order to understand your product’s strengths and weaknesses.
Offer Ongoing Support
Many businesses feel that the need for customer support ends when a problem is solved. However, this greatly underestimates the necessity for follow-up’s and ongoing support services. What online businesses need is for each of your customers to be brand ambassadors. You don’t want to give them a reason to spread negative sentiments about your business (especially online!) Coming back from a negative experience can be difficult. While a quick solution may offer relief for a customer, what’s going to re-gain brand ambassadorship is the follow up, and how you deal with their business going forth.
Offer the customer compensation or special offers when appropriate. Check in with a personalized follow up periodically, and let them know that you are there should they ever need any assistance in the future. Ensuring that your complaints are solved and ongoing support is going to make your customers feel valued and is what’s going to set you apart from your competition.
Build Trust through Transparency
As a customer it’s easy to feel insecure when changes take place without your knowledge. Setting the record straight and opening your business up to become more transparent eliminates the potential of speculation or incorrect information being distributed to your customers. When changes take place, be the first to announce it and outline what it will mean for your customers. When errors are made, solve them as quickly as possible and announce the issue and the steps you have taken, or will take to eliminate it. When you experience small successes, announce those too so customers have a more balanced outlook on the overall position of your business.
Transparency is how trust is built with your customers and shows you have nothing to hide. Being open, admitting your faults, celebrating your victories and acknowledging your duty to your customers is what’s going to help you show your customers that they are valued and prevent anything from being incorrectly reported by other sources.
Keep Your Promises
Keeping your promises and adhering to expectations is what’s going to show your customers and prospects that you can deliver. It’s a factor that’s really going to say a lot about your business; your dependability, your tenacity and your capabilities so you must always to everything in your power to follow through.
Before committing to anything, you must ensure that you and everyone involved in your business are only setting realistic goals that can be met. Don’t oversell yourself just for the sake of the sale and disappoint later. Some of the greatest things a company can provide in their service is consistency and quality, so you should always strive to meet, and where possible exceed expectations.
Be Grateful for their Business
Though it might not seem like much, pleasantries can really go a long way for maintaining relationships with valued customers. Showing gratitude to our customers for their business is not only polite, but it will help you out greatly when trying to retain customers for the long term and develop loyalty. Add personal touches to your correspondence when appropriate, send thank you emails for their business and greetings emails on special dates – relevancy is key (birthdays, new years etc.) This will ultimately show that you know who they are and you value them.
Be Contactable and Accessible
Most online businesses offer multiple ways for visitors and prospects to contact their customer service representatives. You’ll often see emails, phone numbers, chat features or contact forms displayed on websites – but they are not always prominently displayed. Having these different means of communication available to your customers is what’s going to drive sales. Once prospects are hooked, they will have questions and ensuring you’re there for them is paramount. This will often come down to the layout and navigational components of your website. Some businesses choose to display their contact information on every page. Others, might prompt a chat message as soon as the visitor arrives on the page. Having these methods in place means that customers feel as though their concerns are being met and their questions are being answered, all of which is vital to quality customer service.