My husband is engaged in a serious conversation with the United States Postal Service about why it takes a package 8 days to travel 400 miles. To their credit, USPS is doing a commendable job of keeping him informed of their activity on his behalf. That positive activity doesn’t however get the product to his customer any faster, and the customer wants what he ordered.
In business the name of the game is creating and growing happy customers and keeping them that way.
Here are some things you can do to keep your customers coming back for more.
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, their wife’s birthday or their birthday? Do they golf, hunt, fish or have other hobbies? Do they have a cabin or belong to a golf club? Record everything in a computerized CRM program like Salesforce or Nutshell. 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 or less and spread the word to your entire staff. This level of service can be challenging but it’s not impossible. Find a way to measure and reward staff to meeting this goal.
Three of the most powerful questions you can ask a customer are:
- What are the traits of your best customer?
- Every company sets objectives. Which corporate objective affects you the most? How so?
- Is there something we can 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.
Growing loyal customers takes time, effort and more than a little creativity.
Find out how TD Bank used their ATM to say “Thanks” and create some very special moments for customers.