How connected do they feel to your products and services? Perhaps it’s time to implement a strategy for making your clients (current and future) fall head over heels for your business.
Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is widely recognized to be the most powerful and effective way to create loyal customers. BUT…word of mouth can also destroy your business if issues are not promptly and effectively handled. Consider that when a person has an outstanding customer service experience, they are likely to share that experience with four to six others.
And the converse is also true:
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000.” — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.
So, how do you ensure your customers are “head over heels” in love with your business? Consider the following six strategies for creating loyal customers — ones who will gush about your service and recommend your business to their neighbors and friends.
Creating loyal customers begins with knowing who your customers are. Like all successful relationships, it starts with romance. Create a profile of your ideal customers and woo them with targeted marketing. What are the fears, desires and needs of prospective clients that will attract them to your business, and how is your business uniquely equipped to address those concerns and desires? Once you’ve won their business, continue to nurture a long-term, committed relationship. According to the “80/20” rule in business, about 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your sales. These are the customers you need to spend your time and energy wooing and maintaining.
According to the Walker “Customers 2020” report, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. By 2020, the study predicts, customer experience (knowns as “CX”), will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. If you want your customers to stay loyal, you need to invest in their experience. When a customer has an issue, how easy is it to talk to a live person? And when they reach a live operator, will that person be able to follow through, or will the customer be asked to repeat information to multiple representatives before the issue is resolved? Investing in outstanding customer service will reap greater customer retention.
Dissatisfaction is most frequently the product of unmet expectations. From your earliest interactions with a customer, ask open-ended questions. What are your overall goals? What results do you expect from our products and services? What is your desired timeframe? Once you know your customer’s expectations, make sure you honestly communicate what you are able to deliver and when. It may be advisable to overestimate the time it will take you to a complete a project. That way, if you finish early, your customer will be impressed, rather than frustrated if the project takes longer than estimated. Try to under-promise and over-deliver, thus exceeding expectations.
Authentic, timely communication is paramount to developing trust with clients. Most people have a hefty sense of skepticism these days, so you will need to win their confidence. Engage customers with a uniquely “real” voice in written communications. It’s tempting to always spin company news positively, but admitting failures can actually enhance customer loyalty. It puts a human face on the organization and offers a point of relatability. If there are problems with your products or services, be upfront. Notify customers before they are affected by any changes, good or bad. And make sure to provide plenty of opportunity for two-way communication.
Actively seek feedback from your customers to determine how you can improve their experience with your business. Use surveys, focus groups, social media, email and point-of-sale contacts to initiate two-way communication. Then listen. Ignoring customer feedback is no way to make them fall in love with your brand. Show customers you value their opinions. If client surveys indicate a frustrating customer service experience, take action by hiring more representatives or training your current employees to respond more effectively. Always be open to change in response to customer feedback.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” — Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft
Showing frequent appreciation to faithful customers is key to retention. Make your customers feel special through loyalty programs, exclusive clubs or VIP events. Be available for calls and be prompt with email replies. Continue to create satisfied customers through ongoing support and special promotions. Consider giveaways, sweepstakes, contests and discounts with cross-marketing on email, social media, in-store promotions and print. Make sure your best customers feel like royalty.
And always say, “Thank you.” They’ve chosen to spend their dollars with your business; never take that for granted. Consider this advice from Walmart Founder Sam Walton:
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
So, as you watch the autumn leaves fall, think about getting your customers to fall head over heels for your business! Need more ideas? Allow the professionals at Brink Results to show you how to create raving customers through business solutions designed for maximized growth and profitability.