Customer satisfaction can make or break a business. Especially with social media avenues allowing customers to share their experiences and feedback instantly—and with their entire networks—it’s more important than ever to make your customers feel valued.
“People want to feel like they’re special,” says Mike Mirau, owner of The Growth Coach business coaching franchise in Dallas, Texas. “If you let them know you’re thinking about them, they’re likely to make referrals, give you repeat sales and advocate for your business.”
Follow these six ways to show your customers they count:
1. Say Thank You
It might seem obvious, but a simple thank you goes a long way. Mirau suggests sending a thank-you note to customers to show your appreciation. An optical shop he worked with, for example, took a picture of each customer in his or her new pair of glasses and sent them a thank-you note with the picture on it. “[Saying thank you] tells them you appreciate doing business with them,” he says. Say thank you through incentives, too. Offer discounts for customer referrals, or rewards points for repeat customers.
2. Nurture Relationships
Reward your customers for being good customers. Email them a coupon, or notify them about a special promotion or incentives through a newsletter or online. Host a pre-sale event, inviting loyal customers to an upcoming sale or promotion. Mirau says this permission-based marketing will tell customers you’re thinking about them and will encourage them to remain customers.
3. Offer Quality Customer Service
Focus on delivering high-quality customer service through every avenue you use to interact with them, whether it’s returning phone calls and emails promptly, filling orders on time or smiling when a customer walks in the door. “If you only focus on one channel of customer support, then your overall customer satisfaction will be as bad as if you did nothing at all,” Ovsyannikov says.
4. Offer Many Modes of Support
Leveraging the Internet to assist your customers will show them you’re committed to helping them. While you can’t replace the tried and true “one to one” support by meeting in person, offering “one to many” support by sharing your expertise through a blog will show them you’re willing to offer your assistance, says Maksim Ovsyannikov, vice president of product management at Zendesk, a San Francisco, Calif.-based company that provides web-based customer service platforms to businesses.
Creating a company social media profile on Facebook or Twitter will provide “many to many” support, he says. Not only can you reach out to an entire community of customers, but customers can discuss things like a new product you’re offering. “It creates a healthy, crowdsourced discussion about [your business],” Ovsyannikov says. “Everyone contributes and everyone benefits. That will nurture customer love.”
5. Implement Technology
If you want to offer multiple modes of customer support, look for technology that will allow you to manage customer requests on your computer. Zendesk, for example, stores conversations with customers as support tickets so you can keep track of issues. It also puts all of your conversations—on Twitter, e-mail and your website, for example—in one interface so you can manage it easily.
6. Surprise Them
Give customers something they don’t expect. If you own a restaurant, for example, surprise them. Hold a themed party and offer a free or discounted meal for your customers, Have them come in costume, and throw in extras like a live music from a local band. Raffle off prizes like gift certificates. “You want to create a ‘wow’ customer experience,” Mirau says.