How to make your customers fall in love
If you want to stay long in business, you have to make your customers fall in love with it. You need a great customer service experience strategy. I’m sure you too have been ‘wowed’ by one or several businesses in the past.
Like many of you, I’ve patronized (and still am patronizing) many businesses for all sorts of things, from restaurants and brand stores to couriers and other service providers. In all these, I look for exceptional customer service experience.
There was one time when my friends and I were at our favorite cafe and an old man walked in. He was bearded, wearing dark shades, and hunched over. Quite a sketchy character, I thought. Apparently, the others in the cafe thought so too.
The customers looked at the man and kept whispering to each other. I observed how the cafe’s staff would handle the situation. I wondered if they would perhaps turn the man away because he was obviously affecting the rest of the clientele, albeit not intentionally.
The cafe’s staff beamed their usual bright smiles and greeted the man just as they do for all their other patrons. That’s good.
The man seemed to be having difficulties telling the one who approached him what he wanted. If the staff was exasperated or frustrated, I did not see the tiniest bit of it on his face. He was patient and accommodating. That’s even better.
As he wrapped up his order and paid for it, I saw one of the guards approach him. He held out his hand and led the man to a table that he already reserved for him.
The man did not have to look for an available table by himself or wait for his order. He got wait staff service in a self-service cafe. That’s the best customer service experience for me.
We saw the old man again several weeks after that, in a better shape and well-shaven. He was sick the first time we saw him and that’s why he looked that way. This time, he was with his family, visiting from out of town.
I eavesdropped as he told his family about what the staff did for him the first time he went there to get something to eat. He told his family how he felt happy and welcome during all other times he went there.
The cafe’s customer experience strategy turned him into a loyal customer. And now, his family too would patronize the cafe whenever they are in town. I would most likely go to the cafe more often too and recommend it for the good customer experience.
It would do your business good to come up with your own customer experience strategy too. Make your customers fall in love with your business by following these tips:
1. Know your customers – have a clear idea of who you want to serve or provide products for. Find out what their preferences are, what they are looking for, and how they choose the products and services that they avail of.
With this information, you know how to connect with your customers and what messages would appeal to them. You might not know them on a personal level at first, but you at least know how to get them to warm up to you.
2. Identify the expectations of your customers – find out what your existing customers expect from your business. The easiest way is to conduct a survey on how to improve customer experience.
3. Be sincere and genuinely nice when interacting with your customers – you can’t fake it until you make it in this case. What made the cafe experience for the old man so endearing is the fact that the staff were genuinely concerned about him.
Do not miss the chance to connect with your customers on social media. This will make you get to know your customers on a deeper level so you can have meaningful conversations with them.
4. Value your customers and the business that they bring – do not disregard customers who have been loyal to you. In your bid to attract more new customers, make sure that you still give the same good customer experience to everyone.
Be prompt when attending to the needs and answering the inquiries of your customers. This shows them that you value their time and appreciate their patronage. Be consistent in how you treat all your customers.
Best Practices in Customer Experience Strategy
Even big companies know how important it is for their success to provide good customer experience. Here are a few cases that illustrate how that ‘wow’ factor can win your customers’ hearts:
1. Vodafone - In his article 5 Customer Experience Strategies That Work in the Client Heartbeat Blog, Beard, R. cited that an HBR research revealed that companies that can effectively manage their customer experience are rewarded by more customers and increased revenue.
Vodafone put customer experience at the forefront since 2005. The company segmented its customers and came up with a suite of services per segment to include games, news, ringtones, and other apps.
2. HSBC – This UK bank enhanced customer experience with improvements in their digitally assisted phone transactions. The innovative technology-driven initiative simplified the end-to-end process of banking transactions for the bank’s customers.
The Vizolution LinkScreen set up was a result of understanding the bank customers’ ‘journeys’ so that the right solutions can be devised and implemented. This customer experience enhancement resulted in increases in customer transactions, lower costs, increased revenue, and improved customer satisfaction.
3. Farm Foods, Aldi, and Lidl discount supermarkets – these supermarket chains have experienced considerable growth over a 3-month period. They achieved this by exceeding their customers’ expectations and personalizing their offers. In contrast, the bigger supermarkets experienced a decline in sales for the same period.
Connecting with Your Customers on Social Media
Providing a good customer experience to your customers does not start and end within your premises. These days, you can take that experience to the social media and promote it as your value proposition. For this, you want to be on Facebook.
Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms where you can interact with your existing and potential customers. Digital marketing consultant Alex Chris declared that ‘Facebook is the king of social networks.’ Every business can benefit from the billions of users on Facebook.
Alex Chris highlights the importance of social media for your business in his article, saying that “…It goes without saying that the number of fans reveals how popular a website is.”
Having a Facebook business page that has thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers speaks for more than just the business’ popularity. It shows that people trust the business.
This is the same power of Facebook that spurred the US State Department to spend nearly $650,000 to give their Facebook Fans number to upwards of 2 million from a mere hundred thousand.
You have to learn how to optimize and use Facebook to foster a good customer experience. Gain your first 10,000 fans on Facebook and then work on growing that base. Alex Chris wrote an article that teaches you how to do this.
Give your followers a good experience with your brand through your online conversations. Get them to experience your products and services if they have not yet done so. Keep the conversations going and ask your followers to tell their followers about you too.
More Advice from the Pros
The customer experience professionals who have been doing this for a long time and are recognized for their expertise. These professionals are generous enough to share what they know to those who want to learn from their own experiences.
Listen in on what these customer experience professionals have to say:
Laurice Leitao, a Customer Service Professional at SeraCare Life Science, said that "Our greatest asset is the customer! Treat each customer as if they are the only one!"
A good tip would be to address your customers by their name. If you are interacting with them on social media, reply to their posts directly. It would not be easy to connect with them and build trust if they perceive you as a faceless business.
Customer service speaker Shep Hyken also said that "There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.” Satisfying your customers is not enough. You need them to keep on coming back to you and referring you to their social media connections.
The two quotes above were reiterated by Sally Gronow, Welsh Water’s customer manager. She highlights the importance of these quotes by saying that “Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.”
If you have to spend to provide an exceptional customer experience, think of it as an investment that will result in exponential yields. At the same time, keep in mind that a bad experience with your company could result in hefty losses as well.
You do not only stand to lose potential customers, but also those that you worked so hard to bring into your business too. It’s better to spend on retention rather than on recovery.
It would be more expensive to try to bring back a customer who moved to your competitor because of a bad customer service experience with your business. Your business is bound to suffer in terms of potential customer growth and sales revenues.
Wow Them Now
Without doubt, putting in that ‘wow’ factor in your customer experience strategy is imperative. You need to make your customers fall in love with your business now before your competitors take them away from you.
Your customers make up the lifeline of your business. Without them, you will not have revenues and your business could fold up sooner than you think.
Just like you woo the girl of your dreams, you want to convince your customers that you are the ONE and that there is no other business out there that can provide the kind of customer experience that you can give.
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Bill Acholla is a digital entrepreneur helping small business owners build their brand through content marketing. If you resonated with this article, please subscribe to his business blog and you will get a free report about content publication strategy, which will change your marketing...