As far as we know, there has yet to exist a business without a customer. The icecream man, Wells Fargo, the NFL–they all have customers. It is your goal as a business owner to keep these customers happy. (If you need an example of how not to treat your customer, consider Costa Concordia.) We know a business can’t survive without happy customers; so what can we do to keep these folks happy, and hopefully grow our business? Here are a few things we’ve managed to gather in our experience and through watching others.
Begin with Gratitude
Like we said earlier, a business can’t exist without a customer. Your product is worthless if no one will buy it. You may make the best Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator this side of the galaxy, but if Marvin the Martian is not interested, your business will end with an earth-shattering KABOOM. Therefore, we should be grateful for our customers. This gratefulness should inspire us to do two things:
1. Engage: Customers don’t know we appreciate them unless we say so (just like any relationship). Thankfully, social media makes it easier than ever to engage your customer. Take advantage of the many tools you have at your disposal such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Mailchimp. It only takes a few minutes to thank a customer, and that gratitude could mean loyalty to your brand for a long time.
2. Build a Better Product: Your customers are really not all that interested in how great your product is; they are interested in how great your product can make their lives. Everyone of us is telling a story with our lives, and your responsibility as a business owner is to help your customer tell the best story possible. If you are truly grateful for your customers, you will build a product that will help them reach their goals in the most effective way.
Consider the Individual
The most important word to any person is their name. Why? Because we are individuals, and we want to be treated as such. We have individual goals that necessitate individualized service. Trevor and Amy hired you to photograph their wedding because they want the memories perfectly preserved. Mark takes his bike to you for a tune-up because you’re the only mechanic he trusts. Your customers should not be faceless entities; they should be individuals. Consequently, their problems should be individual problems.
When you rationalize and make excuses for a customer’s anger or disappointment, you are not putting yourself in his or her shoes. Think about a time when you had a poor customer service experience; then consider a time when you had a great customer experience. Which made you feel better, and do you want to deliver that same feeling to your customer?
Under Promise, Over Deliver
This is an age-old saying in business, but the principle holds true. Promise to do for the customer what you know is within your scope. But never stop there. Always do what you know is right and what you think is best for the individual. (Sound familiar?)
One company that over delivers on a regular basis is Zappos. In this particular example, a customer purchased six pairs of shoes. The customer was hoping that one of the six pairs would be comfortable for her mother who had just had a debilitating medical procedure. When the customer called Zappos to find out how to return the unwanted pairs, she told them her story. A few days later, Zappos sent her a bouquet of flowers, wishing her a speedy recovery. The family was also upgraded to Zappos VIP Members, ensuring free expedited shipping on future orders.
You may not be Zappos, but you still have the opportunity to exceed customer expectations by over-delivering. Trevor and Amy only asked for digital copies of the photos, but how special would it be if they had a memory book from their wedding day? During your next interaction with a customer, think to yourself, “What can I do to exceed what this customer’s expectations?” Not only will you feel better about giving your best, but your customer will more than likely feel the same way.