Imagine your family touches down in a beautiful tropical paradise for a well-deserved vacation. You get to your hotel, check in, then head to your room to relax for a few hours when you hear a knock at your door. As you open the door, you’re greeted by a hotel employee, holding a bottle of wine for you and your spouse, and a tray of chocolate chip cookies for your kids. What a pleasant surprise!
If you choose to vacation in the same place, do you think you’ll select this hotel again? More than likely. And you’ll definitely tell your friends about your experience upon your return.
While good customer service is what helps mitigate issues with customers, resolve problems quickly, and keep patrons happy, amazing customer service gets customers returning to your business again and again. And it’s only wow customer service that instills a feeling of loyalty and compels customers to refer their friends to you.
So how do you make sure all customers get this wow treatment? In this eBook, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about stellar customer service. You’ll learn how to make customers like you, how to cultivate brand loyalists and more.
How to Wow a Customer
Amazing customer service (the “wow”) creates an emotional connection between you and your customers that transcends a mere transaction. Customers who have a strong, positive emotional connection to your business are more inclined to become repeat customers, tell others to buy from you, and forgive you if you or your employees make a mistake.
You’ve likely heard the amazing stories of Zappos and Neiman Marcus. These companies are legendary for how they proactively go above and beyond regular customer service to wow their customers on a regular basis.
One of the many examples of excellent customer service from Zappos is a situation when a customer representative listened to a customer who called about returning a pair of shoes due to a medical treatment. The Zappos representative didn’t just accept the shoes, but sent a bouquet of flowers and upgraded both the customer who called and her mother to lifetime of free shipping. Suddenly, the business feels more human and an emotional connection is formed.
While a small business might not have the monetary capabilities of waiving shipping for life or sending a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers, sending a handwritten card and including complementary products or services in the card certainly conveys the same sentiment.
If your business is falling short in the wow department, don’t be afraid to solicit feedback from customers about your product, service, and customer experience. Some of the greatest, most valuable data comes directly from customers who are willing to share their opinions and criticisms. By learning from your business’ shortcomings, you can vastly improve how you deliver and execute on a wow experience.
How to Show Customers You Care
Think back to the last time you were really impressed by a company. You probably told a few friends about your amazing experience and went back to do business with them. That moment stuck with you and did more to build brand loyalty than any marketing campaign could have done.
What was so unique about that experience? You probably felt special. You were surprised and delighted by something out of the ordinary. The company showed that they cared.
How do you make your customers feel the same way? Here are three ways to show customers you care.
Make it personal with a handwritten note
A handwritten note makes your customers feel special. It signals that you have gone out of your way to thank them. Taking the precious time to say thank you by hand is rare. Business owners who see this extra effort as an opportunity (not an obligation) stand out from the crowd.
Take for instance Mouse Apparel. Mouse Apparel is an online shop run by husband and wife team John and Adrienne Savone specializing in Disney-theme tees. When a customer places an order, Adrienne asks customers to leave a comment to tell her about their upcoming Disneyland trip. Then she takes this personal piece of information and mentions it in a handwritten note when sending out their tees.
Mouse Apparel customers notice this thoughtful gesture. One customer comment said, "Super cute. Great fit! The personal handwritten note inside was a nice surprise as well!" and another said, “It was also so nice to get a handwritten note from the shop owner and was a great personal touch! :-)."
The more small businesses can add a personal touch to include in their orders, the more likely the customer is to purchase again.
Thank customers for their positive feedback
We spend part of each week responding to customers that were unsatisfied with our product or service. But how much time do you spend each week following up with happy customers?
Following up with a positive review is another opportunity to engage with your customers in a memorable way. Customers will be impressed by businesses that take the time to respond to positive feedback.
For example, you may receive a positive review saying something like, “I really enjoyed my stay at the Grand Hotel. They made me feel welcome at check-in, the room was spotless, and breakfast was delicious.” This is a great opportunity to respond with something like, “Thank you so much for your thoughtful review Bob. What else can we do for you and your family to make your next stay even better next time?”
These two sentences accomplish the following: thanking the customer, encouraging them to come back, and seizing an opportunity to learn what you can do to improve the customer experience.
Surprise your customer with the unexpected
Usually, we get exactly what we ordered. Delivering above and beyond is a great opportunity to outpace the competition. Find a way to deliver and wow by incorporating the element of surprise into your product lifecycle.
Here are some examples of how different industries can go above and beyond standard purchase follow up. These examples can be automatically sent out once a purchase is confirmed through a system like Keap:
- If you’re a service provider, send a coupon for the customers’ next purchase and invite them to share it with their friends and family. This is a simple yet powerful way to market to your existing leads as well as capture new ones.
- If you are a coach or consultant, send your clients a link to a webinar recording or eBook that isn’t available anywhere else. Tell them it’s your way of showing appreciation and that you are excited to work with them in the days to come.
- If you are a business selling a physical product, one of the easiest ways to go above and beyond is to find a product that you currently offer and include it free of charge with their order.
How to Make Customers Like You
Being liked by your customers isn’t just a perk of running a good business, it’s essential. You can have a great product or service, but if you’re impersonal, off-putting, or just average, it doesn’t inspire the long-term loyalty that will help you grow.
Here are simple ways you can be unforgettable to your customers:
1. Prioritize the presentation of your product
Whether you have a brick and mortar business or you are an online retailer, you can make an impact post-sale by adding something special to the packaging of their purchase. It can be as simple as bundling books with a ribbon or as elaborate as making an event out of the entire delivery.
Birchbox does a great job of making an impact in the way they deliver their products each month. The subscription site uses colorful tissue paper and wraps each box carefully to fit a certain theme or time of the year. Bring an additional level of joy to your product by adding some affordable frills (if it works with your target audience).
2. Let people see your face
There are plenty of nameless, faceless corporations in the world. Don’t be one of them. If you use email as the main form of communication with your prospects or existing customers, try adding a short, conversational video.
Next time you have an announcement or important news about the industry to share, take the opportunity to get in some face time. Like with the thank you note, personal touches are key when nurturing relationships.
3. Reward good deeds
Everyone likes a pat on the back for doing the right thing. If a customer provides a referral, acknowledge her gesture of loyalty. You don’t necessarily have to start a referral program, but if you know a customer is bringing you business, a thank you is in order at the very least. Make sure you are collecting information on your referrers and dishing out the gratitude that is deserved.
If your business is founded predominantly on customer referrals, determine a reasonable budget that can go towards rewarding those who support you. You don’t have to offer something free to every person who tells his or her friend about you, but you should have a way to show your appreciation to your most loyal referrers.
4. Keep your cool
Not everyone will love you, and that stings. There will be people who are just not pleased and become dissatisfied with your product or service. It’s crucial that all of those interactions are also addressed and handled in a quick and comforting fashion.
If a complaint is launched and you have the ability to pick up the phone to speak to the customer directly, do it. An unanswered grievance on Facebook or an ignored review on your product page can send the wrong message to happy customers that you’re only in it to make a sale. Show that you care about the best and the worst of your customers, and your likeability will increase across the board.
How to Earn Customer Loyalty
Creating brand loyalists can be challenging. Even with the most unique marketing ideas, customers are often just looking for the best deals. Businesses need to present them with reasons they should keep returning, whether it's in the form of reward programs, outstanding customer service, or a thoughtful interaction with a salesperson.
Here are some ways that small businesses can foster customer loyalty and ensure that new customers come back to make repeat purchases.
Offer customer rewardsIn any customer's wallet, there is sure to be at least one loyalty card for a local grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, or small business. These exist for a reason: They make customers want to keep coming back and earn their rewards. Even if discounts are minimal, they still want to feel like they are saving or are part of an exclusive club. We recommend starting a similar program if your business is a retail store, travel company, or restaurant. It will encourage foot traffic and give customers the incentive to shop.
Show your gratitude on social mediaSome brands showcase customers' birthdays on their Facebook pages. Others thank customers with tweets. Demonstrating gratitude to customers on social media makes them feel special and, in turn, will make them more inclined to stay true to your business.
Julie Neidlinger of Today Made writes, "Without letting your fans know you’re thankful for their participation and for even being an audience, it’s easy for you to be forgotten without another thought." Don't ignore the customers: Always be grateful and show appreciation. They will pay you back with loyalty.
Keep communicatingRegular communication keeps a business fresh in a customer's mind. If you're not checking in, sending out reminders and email newsletters, and keeping in touch via social media, you should start doing so. There is a fine line, however, between communicating just enough and too much. Send follow-up and thank you emails after a business interaction. Email recommendations for similar products (look at Amazon's related items section for an example). Ask them to take a survey about their experience and use the feedback to improve business. Offer a chance to win a prize for taking the survey. The opportunities are endless.
Train outstanding employeesEncourage employees to learn customers' names and figure out their needs—and remember that nobody likes a pushy salesperson.
Businesses need to be reliable and deliver on promises, as well. Owners and employees have to deal with complaints in the proper way, because, of course, the customer is always right. If customers choose to spend their money at your business, show your appreciation by going the extra mile.
- Become an expertIn order for a small business to be successful, it has to stand out from the pack. Kelly Services suggests picking a niche and becoming an expert in it. According to the site, "Beyond merely filling a 'vacuum,' become an expert resource for your customers. If you have not used this strategy in the past, you will be amazed at the customer loyalty and strong relationships your company can build by offering customers content that informs and entertains." If customers know they can trust your opinion, they will keep coming back.
Customer Experience and Retention
The Internet has made our world smaller and so connected that even small businesses must compete on a global scale if they want to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Because of this, one of the most important assets you can leverage has nothing to do with the services you provide or the products you offer.
It comes down to the type of experience you can create for your customers.
This, above all else, is truly the thing that’s most unique to your business. Customer experience affects everything within your organization, from how successful your outreach programs are to increases in retention and loyalty.
If you want to create an unparalleled customer experience that increases retention, ask yourself these key questions.
Do you fully understand the customer's intent?
You need to first understand where your customer is coming from—whether that’s the devices they’re using, the channels they’re on, and even why they were interested in your brand in the first place.
Take this for example: According to the 2016 Index, 95 percent of all customers use at least three or more channels and devices to resolve a single issue related to customer service. A further 95 percent use up to five.
If they're sending an email on their smartphone, you need to be ready. If they're sending you a tweet or a Facebook message, you need to be ready. No matter what platform your customers use, you need to be there when they reach out to you.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can be a great way to create a smart, connected experience across these channels. Not only does it allow for all information about a customer and their issues to funneled through a single source that everyone can access, but it also allows you to view historical data as well.
This will allow you to anticipate not just what the consumer wants now, but also the needs and concerns that will arise during and even after their purchase.Do you know where buyers are in their journey?
Where a customer is in their journey will affect everything from the way that you should talk to them to the type of care that they need at essential moments.
The discovery phase is about education, whereas the awareness phase is about showing what you can do for your customer that nobody else can. Content that aligns with the awareness phase can come in the form of blog posts, infographics, and videos that educate.
Consideration and decision phases make the sale, and customers often find whitepapers, eBooks, and webinars most helpful at these stages.
Are you tracking the right retention metrics?
Retention metrics are fantastic resources to tell you not only what you're doing right, but more importantly, what you could be doing better.
Are you aware of the customer's purchase frequency? What items do customers frequently buy together? What kind of incentives resonate the most?
These metrics will provide you with the type of valuable insight you need to optimize not just the customer experience but also the customer journey, guaranteeing that you're always contacting the right people at the right time.Is your entire organization aligned around the customer experience?
Every department in your organization needs to be aligned around optimizing the customer experience, otherwise all of your other efforts will ultimately mean nothing.
Structure your marketing team around nurturing your consumers as they enter the sales funnel. Foster an environment where your customer service and sales teams aren't considered separate at all but are instead individual parts of a much larger whole.
Your teams must know when a customer should pass from one to the other. When a customer needs to move from the marketing team to the sales team, they need to do so at the right moment for the best results.
Omnichannel support software will not only help you in these efforts but will also increase the reliability of your structure as well. Interactions across all channels like email, phone, social media, and live chat will all become one, allowing your customer to receive a single experience regardless of how they choose to make contact at a given moment.
Are you using the right tools to create a personalized experience?
Creating personalized customer experiences will go a long way in increasing both loyalty and retention. Email automation is especially helpful when building customer retention programs. For example, you could send an automatic email with a coupon code to all customers who haven’t made a repeat purchase in six months. Or, you could create an email series with tips and tricks to help customers become power users. Even something as simple as sending emails can remind customers of your value.
Again, omnichannel support software will become essential to meet this goal. Keap and BLUE are just a few options that will help you centralize your customer communications, streamline the customer experience, and allow all of your departments to offer personalized interactions.
Neiman Marcus is a luxury department store that sells fine clothing, gifts, and accessories. When a customer in Alaska brought back tires he had purchased from a store that previously occupied Neiman Marcus’ current space, the Neiman Marcus representative took the tires back.
While this is an extreme case, it still goes to demonstrate the famous retailer’s commitment to customer service and keeping a customer happy, even if he or she is not your own customer.
Small business owners don’t have to spend millions of dollars to wow customers, nor should they aim for their exceptional customer service to be documented in books. But by being in the right mindset and showing genuine care for customers, small businesses can create an experience that exceeds customer expectations and truly wows them.
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