Listen carefully. If you aren’t able to provide timely, top-notch customer service, your customers are going to support your competition while letting their friends and family know publicly.
That’s just a fact and shouldn’t be a surprising one to you if you’ve been running your business for any length of time. If you want to avoid this customer pitfall, here are 3 ways that you can win over your customers—starting today.
1. Listen to what they want
While this is one of the most important components of customer service it can get a bit tricky. If you listen to each and every suggestion from your customers you’ll most likely get hundreds or thousands of various recommendations that are incongruent with one another because each customer has a different want or need. And, you don’t want confusion to create your business model. As Mark Cuban stated in Entrepreneur:
“Your customers can tell you the things that are broken and how they want to be made happy. Listen to them. Make them happy. But don’t rely on them to create the future road map for your product or service. That’s your job.”
Helping your customers stay loyal to your brand is like seeing your favorite artist in concert. Music artists and performers predetermine their setlists, but sometimes take requests from the audience. Bruce Springsteen, for example, will have a setlist in mind, but he’ll also look into the crowd and take song suggestions from the fans who brought in signs asking for a specific track. It’s just one of the reasons why he’s The Boss; he gives the people what they want.
For business owners, you can listen to your customers by utilizing these techniques:
- Surveys (naturally): Of course you knew surveys would be our leading recommendation! You can ask customers what their overall experience was with your company; why they visited your website; how they heard about your brand; were you able to find what you were looking for; and what they liked or disliked about your product or service. Hint: Don’t make surveys too long or complicated.
- Focus Groups: You can bring together a number of your customers either in person or online with promotions, coupons, or free items.
- Observation: Use Google Analytics or ask your customers quick questions during the sales process with pop-up windows, embedded chat windows, or in person if you have a physical location.
- Social Media: You will have your regular haunts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., but don’t forget there are also social media analytics and publishing platforms that can help you with the front and backend parts of going social—Brand 24, Hootsuite, or Spredfast.
- Communities: These days, providing your customers a place to chat about their ideas (and maybe your brand) has become helpful in many ways. Today, we can give our customers a place to find a social unit that thinks or shares the way they do. We don’t need to be afraid when our customers click on a link in an article that takes them to their new destination, and virtual community. Just make sure that your link comes back to your site when closing, and you have the last say.
- Contact Page: Above all, make sure that you’re contactable. Easily contactable and that someone from your company is actually there to engage with your customer.
Win Loyal Customers
Automate how you collect customer feedback by sending expert surveys at every touchpoint.
2. Give them a surprise
Who doesn’t enjoy being surprised as a sign of gratitude? Your customers definitely do. So, you should constantly be on the lookout for ways to surprise and delight your customers. It could be something as simple of a Thank You note or email or birthday/holiday card. A coupon or discount. Freshly baked cookies. An invitation to a party. Or, just going a little out of your way to make a customer happy.
Zappos is a brand known for going out of their way to make their customers happy. One story involves a Zappos customer who forgot her shoes at home while staying at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The customer called Zappos looking for a replacement pair. Unfortunately, the shoes were out of stock. The company actually went to a mall, found the exact pair of shoes, and sent them to customer—for free. Will this customer or any of her friends ever go anywhere other than Zappos? I think not.
3. Personalize your products or services
Customers adore a personalized experience. Studies have actually found that “73 percent of consumers surveyed said they prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.”
Of course, personalizing your products or services won’t always be possible. But, you can give it a shot by trying one of these examples shared by Pardot:
- Purchase Behavior: You can send customers personalized content or promotions based on their previous purchases. Gourmet coffee company Boca Java discovered that customers who purchased two-packs of coffee were more likely to take advantage of discounts. With that information, the company could target that group.
- Time Zone: Instead of email blasting all of your customers at once, segment them into time zones when they’re more likely to open your email. I personally use and love GetResponse.
- Customer-specific Needs: Finally, you can address the specific needs of your customers. Doggyloot, for example, segments customers on the size of their dogs. Instead of sending out offers dog toys that are meant just for larger dogs, they send out smaller toy offers for smaller dogs and larger toys meant for large breeds.
Here’s to winning over our customers in 2016!
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, author and contributing writer for Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, Inc., and The Huffington Post.
Reach out to him with questions here or leave a comment below!