Happy customers are the best customers a business can have. A satisfied buyer is more likely to become a repeat buyer – a staple of your client base, and a customer who generates more business with less effort.
These happy buyers usually tell others about your wonderful retail outlet, or the broad range of services you offer. Word of mouth advertising can grow a business – and FAST – because friends trust the recommendations of other friends.
In addition, happy customers may be more understanding when glitches occur. They know you’ll make it right because you’ve made it right in the past.
However, keeping customers happy can be expensive – especially for new and growing businesses with limited capital resources. Here are some simple, low-cost suggestions to keep your customers satisfied – and that’s the name of the game.
1. Encourage customer feedback. Develop a feedback form for clients and customers to streamline the way you measure customer satisfaction. These forms should be simple, easy and fast to complete, whether online or at your place of business. As a company owner, or manager of client care services, you’ll learn quickly how existing customers view your business, and you’ll also receive excellent input on how to refine your business systems to improve client care. Best of all, input from customers is free, so not only do you get real-world information, it doesn’t cost your business anything.
2. Fulfill all reasonable requests, even if you lose a little on the transaction. Not all customers make reasonable requests, but when they do, try to meet those requests with personalized service. Why?
- Meeting customer requests keeps customers in place.
- Making buyers happy creates excellent word of mouth advertising – FREE advertising provided by your happy clients or buyers.
- Meeting customer requests builds trust in your business. Buyers know that if there’s a problem, you’ll fix it to their satisfaction because you’ve done it before.
3. Don’t over-promise. Over-deliver to exceed expectations. Never make promises you can’t keep. If your sales team promises delivery of products or services and your shipping department can’t meet that deadline, you have an unhappy customer. Get all employees on the same page. Set the bar high for client satisfaction, but don’t promise if you can’t keep that promise – every time.
4. Know when and how to apologize. Nothing says, “We care about you and your satisfaction” more than a heartfelt, sincere apology. If your company or business makes a mistake, take responsibility, sincerely apologize, and fix it to the customer’s satisfaction. Never get into arguments with customers. Indeed, the customer IS always right – or they won’t remain a customer for long.
5. Send handwritten thank-you notes. In this fast-paced business world of emails, texting, and other instant contact, the art of writing a handwritten note is fast going the way of the horse and buggy. Purchase quality stationery and hand-write a thank-you note to your newest customer, or to your biggest client after a major purchase. Handwritten notes make a positive statement and impact on the recipient, and they don’t cost much.
6. Make it easy to contact the business and avoid automated telephone systems. Do you like automated phone systems? Your customers probably don’t either — especially those that routinely, but mechanically, tell those on the line that, “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line.” Personalized telephone service can highlight your concern for keeping customers happy each time they call.
7. Create “face time,” either in person or using VoIP. A face-to-face meeting indicates a caring company that wants to “do right” by its customers. If possible, make time to sit down to discuss customer needs. Investigate and fix complaints. And, if the customer is half-way around the world, use computer technology, like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to chat with prospects, customers and clients from the comfort of your office.
A smiling, caring face is more effective in delivering customer benefits than an impersonal note generated by a computer. Show buyers you care by talking to them – face to face.
8. Send birthday greetings and/or gifts to your best clients. Send a personalized birthday greeting to your best customers. Then create a list of birthdays and enter these dates into your business’ client relationship management software (CRM) to ensure those cards are sent out on time.
Keeping your existing customers happy doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, often the most effective means of delivering benefits to buyers are low-cost, and even free.
So give your customers what they want. Show prospects that client care is a core value of your business. Develop in-house systems that simplify the delivery of low-cost benefits, and go back in time to the days when humans answered the company telephone and people communicated with handwritten notes…and showed they truly cared about keeping their customers happy.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A. Member FDIC