The best way for your business to grow organically is through word of mouth. Your current, satisfied customers and clients are your best marketing tool out there. Your mission? Give them lots to talk about.
Since it costs a business up to 15 times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one, your goal is to build customer satisfaction and loyalty that will end in higher customer retention. You need to differentiate yourself from others, provide value to your customers and above all, WOW your customers with exceptional service. That is what people talk about.
1. Underpromise, Overdeliver
When you hear customers raving about a brand, usually it is because the brand overdelivered. A poster child for exceptional customer service is zappos.com.
Imagine working for a company that pays you to quit? Yup. $2000 to throw in the towel and walk away. It’s unheard of, right? Not at Zappos. At the end of their staff training, people are offered $2000 to quit, no questions asked. This weeds out those who are not dedicated to the mission and vision of the company, and eliminates those who might bring down the company. Zappos has figured out that every single employee is in customer service – no matter whether they are answering the phones,in shipping, in marketing – their number one mandate is to make the customer experience exceptional.
Zappos breaks all the rules. They ship everything overnight, and charge standard shipping rates. They include personalized notes in every single order. They accept returns, up to a year later, no questions asked. Their call center people are trained to keep the clients on the phone as long as possible unlike most centers whose mandate is to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Zappos wants to engage and talk to their customers and find out what they need and how they can help. They have been known to send flowers to customers marking special occasions… everything is about making the customer feel exceptional. People buy on emotion, they buy when they are made to feel good.
Zappos will tell you your shoes will arrive in 3-4 business days. They are on your doorstep the next morning. That is underpromising and overdelivering… and it gives great fodder for people to talk about.
2. Treat Everyone Like Royalty
One thing I love about flying on Porter Airlines is that everyone is treated equally. There is no First Class, no Business Class, no ‘Back of the Bus’ Class…. everyone is treated as if they are in Business Class. Free coffee and snacks at the terminal, complimentary snacks and drinks on the flight. Employees are friendly and helpful to everyone. Everyone is valued and made to feel important. Porter has figured out that paying $2.00 to serve a customer coffee is a minimal investment with a huge return. Some of the perks they offer definitely cost them upfront, but the Return on their Investment is customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customer word of mouth marketing. That is an excellent ROI.
3. Shhh… Listen, Don’t Talk
On average, only 3-5% of disgruntled clients will be overly vocal about their dissatisfaction. That 3-5% can be loud, and have negative impact on your business. Our gut instinct is to defend when someone speaks ill of what we sell or what we offer. It is so important that instead of defending, we listen. Listen to what is frustrating them and then fix it. If you don’t fix it, your clients will go elsewhere.
The Ritz Carlton is an exclusive chain of hotels – known for their $7 coffees and exceptional attention to detail. Employees know that they are empowered to spend up to $2000 per customer to remedy a complaint. The hotel knows that by listening to their unhappy clients, and fixing whatever the problem, they are creating a loyalty – which is so important when you think of how small their niche market is. If someone is unhappy, make them happy. If someone is not pleased with your product or service, fix it.
It is also important to listen to what your customers want. What will solve problems for them? Listening to, and understanding what they actually want then overdelivering it is a recipe for success.
4. Reward Loyalty
Loyalty cards, points, coupons, discounts, personalized thank yous, memberships, bonuses – how can you reward your loyal customers as a thank you for their dedication to you. It goes without saying that the best thing you can do is continually deliver exceptional value. But as the saying goes “membership has its privileges”, everyone likes to feel like they belong, like they are appreciated, and that you know they are buying from you. There are 101 creative ways to reward the loyalty of your customers – think outside the box, offer something you would appreciate.
5. Add A Personalized, Extra Touch
Every entrepreneur brings their own style to their business. That is one of the benefits of running your own shop – you can do it your way. Bringing that style to your biz is what makes you different from your competition – you bring your own ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the table – and you pass that on to your customers. Giving a personal touch to every element of our business will speak volumes – it brings a personality to a static entity – and customers appreciate dealing with a person, not a company.
You all know to sign your own cheques – but also ‘sign’ every service, every product, every message, every offering that touches your clients. Add that personalized extra touch to everything you do.
So how do you WOW your customers? What do you do to build loyalty and encourage them to talk openly about what you do and what you offer?