Published: February 09, 2016 | Comments
"I'll have what she's having.” -- When Harry Met Sally (1989)
What are the best ways to create a sustainable pool of returning customers that also recommend you to their friends? This article reviews and highlights the top three strategies that should be central to every business — going the extra mile to show appreciation for your customer, creating an amazing experience so the customer enjoys interacting with your business and creative branding that catches the customer’s eye. Actualizing these objectives will make your customers happy, and happy customers are paramount to a thriving business.
Show Your Appreciation
Make your customers feel special. Send an email after a purchase thanking them for their business. Personalize your thank you email by referring to your customers by their first names. After a sale is made, anticipate customer’s needs by sending offers to upgrade and purchase complimentary products.
John Marshall of the Results Driven: Business Training Program tells of a story of a Japanese woman who opened a restaurant nearby. After he had become a regular and spread the word of the good food, he once picked up his takeout and the business owner rushed up to him and said “Thank you. Thank you.” And then she hugged him with a final “Thank you.” Marshall says, “This lasted only a few seconds and initially felt odd, but then it quickly felt terrific and genuine […] Her hug was spontaneous. It was natural. It was heartfelt. As I walked away I felt terrific. I was happy. I was genuinely pleased for her success and I was honored that she decided to share it with me through her hug”. You do not need to hug all of your customers to show appreciation, but within this story is a great lesson—if you take just seconds from your day to show your customers appreciation, they will in turn, appreciate your customer service that much more.
Top-Notch Customer Experience
A great customer experience almost guarantees returning customers. Not only that, but they’ll share their positive experience with others by word of mouth and on social media.
Nordstrom famously made its brand synonymous with customer service. They train their employees to go the extra mile—they will not point towards the direction of a product, they will physically walk you there. They will not hand you your bagged purchase, they will come around their register to hand it to you. And the customer is always right—even if they are wrong. There is a famous story of a customer successfully returning car tires to Nordstrom. And Nordstrom doesn’t even sell tires. They figure that it is better to keep their customers happy than to lose a few dollars here and there. And after over 115 years of business, it seems that their strategy works.
Follow the Nordstrom way by making sure the interactions that customers have with your business are all positive. Be aware of any problems with your product and follow through by offering customers simple, effective solutions or as a last resort, compensation.
Creative branding has become even more important with the rise of social media. A picture of your product plastered across Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms will increase product visibility tremendously.
To stand out from the crowd, make your product sexy and attractive to the eye. What do the other products look like, and what do they lack? How can you make yours different? The secret here is in the packaging. If you’ve got a great package, people will not only buy your product, but they also won't forget it.
Once you have built up brand recognition with your product, stick with it. When Tropicana redesigned their packaging in 2009, their sales dropped almost 20 percent—a decrease attributed the less shiny and colorful packaging, as well as a logo redesign that made it difficult for customers to recognize the brand. After only a few months, the logo was changed back and the design of the container itself was changed instead to a transparent container. Customers like to see their product before purchasing, and as such, sales of Tropicana boomed yet again.
A happy customer can make or break a successful business. Make sure that your business model includes positive customer service, strong customer appreciation and creative branding. If you make your customers a top priority, they will make you theirs as well.
Looking for more strategies to improve the customer experience? Learn more about our customer experience track at Contact Center Expo and Conference.