How many times have you spent your well-earned dollars on a product or service, only to feel like a number or a commodity to the company once they’ve received payment? On the other hand, how well do you remember the companies that made you feel like they really valued you as a customer?
It seems that the second scenario is becoming rarer, and those companies that do go the extra mile to make their customers feel important and valued, stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Winning customer loyalty takes a lot of time and energy… achieving it will give you a never-ending source of repeat business and referrals.
Winning customer loyalty takes a lot of time and energy, which is why so many companies can’t be bothered, but achieving it will give you a never-ending source of repeat business and referrals. How is your business doing in making your customers feel important? Here are some ways you can wow your customers.
7 Customer Service Tips
- Pay attention
When dealing with your customers, take note of all the little things that may not seem important to the transaction at hand. Did Mr. Jones walk in with a limp and a cane today? Was Susan not her usual chatty self when she came in to pick up that part she ordered? When John came in, did you notice he had a new puppy in tow? Paying attention to the little details of everyday life, and letting your customers know you noticed, will make them feel valued.
2. Really Listen
Use what Stephen Covey calls Level 4 Listening – listening empathically. Not just for the content, or for how you will respond, but listening between the words you hear. Do you hear fear, reluctance, or excitement? When you really listen you can learn what your customers truly need, and meeting their needs is another way you can make them feel important.
3. Put Them First
Remember that most customers are thinking WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). In all your interactions with customers, think about whether you’re giving them the answer to that question. Do they know you care about what’s important to them? What’s in it for them has to come before what’s in it for you, or the customer service equation doesn’t work. I recently heard someone say, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
4. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
So, that customer standing in front of you is angry about what they perceive is sub-standard service. It sounds outrageous to you, but to them it’s very real. When faced with complaints or confrontation by your customers, put yourself in their shoes. Try to remember the last time you were unsatisfied with something you paid for. How did it feel? Were you acknowledged or dismissed by the company? How would you have liked to be treated? Stepping back from the situation and realizing every consumer is just like you, might help you to show a little more compassion and understanding in difficult situations.
5. Be Honest and Genuinely Open to Feedback
Criticism or complaints from your customers are actually your greatest customer service opportunities. When you know what you’ve done wrong, you can take steps to make it right. Be honest when you have made a mistake, and genuinely seek to rectify it. Throw defensiveness out the window, and take your customers’ feedback to heart. It may sting at first, but it will take you to a greater level of customer service. Implement the things you hear from your customers, and thank them for the opportunity to get better at what you do.
6. Deal with Problems Quickly
Nothing is more irritating than having a problem with a business, and getting the runaround, or worse, getting no attention at all. When a problem comes to your attention, deal with it immediately. This assures your customers that they are important to you. When you make the time to deal with their issues right away, you show that you value them. When you put it off, allowing weeks to go by without a word, you let them know that you don’t care if they go somewhere else!
7. Be Creative in Showing Appreciation
Creativity takes effort, but taking those few moments each week to do something nice for your customers goes a long, long way to making them feel special and inspiring loyalty. You may need to add some money to your marketing budget, but the little you spend on showing your appreciation will pay off huge dividends. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination. Here are just a few ideas:
- Hold a (virtual) customer appreciation event
- Send flowers to a long-time customer who’s experienced a loss or is going through a difficult time
- Charge up $10 on a few Tim Hortons cards and have a draw for two customers a month – just because you appreciate them
- Send a bottle of wine to a customer who made a large purchase
- Purchase two event tickets (sports or concert) and send them to a customer who gave a referral
- Have a weekly or monthly draw for a gift basket – customers can enter every time they make a purchase
- Send thank you cards for no other reason than to thank your customers for their loyalty
What’s holding you back from making your customers feel important? These few simple steps can help you create a loyal customer base – and that’s something solid to build a business on! – from the coach’s desk