When it comes to the success of your business, then the success of the customer has to come first. Most businesses get the main bulk of their revenue by ensuring that the same customers come back time and time again. You want to expand your customer base, yes, but you shouldn’t abandon those that you have already won. In fact, it costs less, on average, to retain a customer and get the same amount of revenue from them as you would from selling to a new customer. To that end, showing customers that you care about their needs, their support, and their success is key.
A little freebie goes a long way
If you’re doing deliveries for your customer, then you shouldn’t underestimate the heart-warming effect of tossing in a little free something for them to enjoy. This doesn’t have to be anything too big. A lot of businesses will include a little bag of sweets or even something like a coupon for a chain coffee store. It’s not going to make them fall in love immediately with the business but it makes the delivery of their order an even more positive experience than it would be already. Added to the rest of the tips below, it keeps the relationship happy.
Toss in an upgrade
Much in the same way that you can throw a little free thing in with deliveries for your customers, you can also show them some appreciation and care by offering an upgrade (or even slipping one in there without them noticing.) This might mean offering them a free side if you’re running a café or a restaurant, or giving them an exclusive one-time discount at your shop. It’s important that this upgrade is something that’s either free or very heavily discounted, so it feels more like a favor to them, rather than you trying to upsell them. You want it to feel special and to demonstrate care, not to generate revenue immediately.
Ensure that support is available right when they need it
You should make sure that you have some methods for your customers to find support, that much is clear. There are many ways to do it, such as by giving them the resources they need to fix their own problems with an FAQ, giving them an email address or phone number, and times that you can be contacted, but if you’re running an online website, especially in e-commerce, timeliness is important. Responding to their needs quickly can be a crucial way to avoid shopping cart abandonment and, to that end, in-site chat tools can be highly valuable. Find out more about live chat integration website to make sure that you’re there to help when you need to be. The easier it is for customers to remove barriers from their purchases, the more likely they are to come back.
Remember who they are
If you’re running a business with hundreds of customers, then you are naturally not going to be able to remember your past encounters with all of them. This is even more true if you’re running the business online and you’re trying to remember a customer who reaches out for support. However, you don’t have to rely on your own brain space to be able to provide continuity through your customer support and sales processes. You should instead look at customer relationship management software which helps you keep records on each and every customer that reaches out so that you can make sure that you’re working from a point of recognition.
Try to make all communications feel personal
If you have a large base of customers, then you’re naturally not going to be able to spend time getting in touch with every single one of them with a personal, hand-crafted message. However, you can demonstrate a level of care by making each message feel at least somewhat personal. For instance, you can use personalized, customized emails instead of sending out exactly the same message to hundreds of people. Email customization is getting much more complex than simply inserting the individual’s first name in there, so take advantage of the technology. If you’re using a CRM as above, you can ensure that notes are kept on it so you can add a sentence or two manually to make things even more specific to the individual.
Make them feel included
If you’re trying to build something like a real community out of your customers, then it’s important that they feel like they are a part of something, or at least invited to be a part of something. Inviting them to exclusive events, such as local pop-ups, launch celebration events, or even something like a discount night at your restaurant or cafe can help them feel remembered and like an important member of your customer base. If your business is running things exclusively (or nearly exclusively) online, then you can get this same kind of effect by inviting them to things like webinars or other live online events. It doesn’t have quite the same red carpet invitation impact, but it is a good way to keep in contact with them.
Get their feedback
Aside from knowing that their journey and their success matter to you, customers like to know that their voice matters to you, as well. As such, you should consider investing in methods of collecting feedback from them, whether it’s feedback forms on the site, an open invitation to share thoughts through social media, or otherwise. Aside from giving you the opportunity to get to know your customers so that you can better market to them, it also sets you up for a public relationships slam dunk if you’re able to tackle an issue that is common amongst your customers successfully. You can publish a case study or make an announcement for those extra kudos.
Get communicative with them
Being friendly and responsive to customers in your shop or restaurant is all well and good, but you don’t want to get so chatty that they feel like they are being distracted or interrupted from what it is that they came for. However, leaving the lines of communication open can be great for those customers who do want to reach out. Having a relationship with customers through social media, bantering with them, and responding to their comments (without missing a single one) can make them feel very much valued by the team at your business. You can even go further, featuring some of your best customers through social media. Add in a little discount or freebie for them and they can feel like the appreciation is more than just words.
Be courteous in the face of complaints
The squeakiest wheel gets the grease. Sometimes it can seem like this is the dominant philosophy of customers, especially online. There are a lot more complaints faced by business owners, or so it might seem, with the rise of social media and review sites. It can be tempted to get defensive, especially if you feel like comments are unfair or untrue. However, unless you can very clearly debunk an outright false claim, you shouldn’t go on the offense. Instead, ensure the commenter that you want to help them solve the issue and give them the opportunity to get in touch (or offer to get in touch yourself). Aside from a public display of goodwill, you could have the opportunity to win back a disgruntled ex-customer (though you shouldn’t be on this.)
Show a little token of appreciation
To get back to the importance of keeping your customer relationships positive, if you have a repeat customer or one that has needed quite a bit of support, then you can make the effort to be a little more personal in your interaction with them. The best way to do this without crossing any boundaries is to send them a little handwritten note with their next order. Nowadays, there are so many automated and template messages that your customers might really appreciate the fact that you took the time to communicate with them personally, especially if the actual content of the message is specific to them as well.
Make empathy a cornerstone of your team’s focus
You can’t fake care, not really. You have to maintain the energy so that when customers get in touch, they can really feel it from you and your team. To that end, you should make sure that empathy is a big part of the language when you’re talking to your sales and support team. You should be talking about the customer’s success, the customer’s feelings, and why the customer’s journey is important to your goals as a business. You can’t be cynical about care, even if you have cynical goals, such as improving customer sales and retention. Some real care has to go in there.
Putting the customer first doesn’t mean that you have to bend to every whim of particularly toxic customers. Just put in the work to maintain the relationship you have with those who bring value to the business.