A friend is engaged in a serious conversation with the United States Postal Service about why it is taking a package eight days to travel 400 miles. To their credit, USPS is doing a commendable job of keeping her informed of their activity on her behalf. The product isn’t arriving any sooner, but the open communication does make it more palatable.
The name of the game in business is creating happy customers, thus convincing them to become repeat customers.
Talk to them
Customers, like flowers, need attention and sunshine. Keeping them in the loop about what’s happening on their project is critical. Don’t be afraid to go to them when things don’t go as planned. Share what you are doing to solve the problem, complete with actions and dates. It is far better to err on the side of over-communicating when there are issues.
Remind them how much you care
Find ways to stay top-of-mind with customers. Show a sincere interest in their personal lives as well as their business. Take thorough notes every time you talk: are their children in sports (what sports?), is it their anniversary, is there a birthday in their family? Do they golf, hunt, fish or have other hobbies? What charities/community events are important to them? Record everything in a computerized CRM program.
Send birthday cards, sympathy cards or “Happy Fishing Opener” cards. They’ll love the attention.
Always respond promptly
Set a goal to respond to every customer’s call or email within 30 minutes and expect the same from your staff. This level of service can be challenging but it’s not impossible. Measure and reward staff for meeting this goal.
Examples of powerful questions are:
- What are the traits of your best suppliers?
- Every company sets objectives. Which objective affects you the most? How?
- What can we do to make your job easier?
Your mother taught you to say “please” and “thank you” for a reason; it’s good manners and it makes the recipient feel good. When was the last time you sent a handwritten note of appreciation to a customer? Take a page out of Zappo’s book: every Thursday every employee is encouraged to send at least one note of appreciation to a customer.
Here’s how TD Bank said “thanks” and created some very special moments for customers.
Growing loyal customers takes time, effort, and creativity. What kind of thank you program will you create for your customers?
The road is easier together,
Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group