by Ron Stein
Updated 8 yearss ago
I know this has happened to you. After getting your order at a restaurant the server turns around and immediately leaves. But wait, you find that you need something! There's no ketchup on the table. Maybe a fly is doing a backstroke in your wine glass.
But, the waiter is already across the room helping another group that just sat down -- and the waiter's back is to you. It's frustrating when you're ignored.
It happened to me just the other night at a new eatery here in town. Sure, the waiter was friendly, even professional in a mechanical sort of way. But I felt ignored.
Do your customers feel that way? There's no doubt that your company jumps through hoops to solve customer issues that arise from time to time. Yet, that's not enough.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations starts the moment people walk through your door and money changes hands. When prospects sign on the dotted line and turn into customers, you’ve got to have already a system in place that nurtures the relationship.
It's like insurance, only better. A Harvard Business Review study found that an increase of only 5% in customer retention can increase profitability by up to 80%
That's not a good sign for the restaurant I ate at the other night. I'm fairly sure that our table wasn’t ignored on purpose. But that really doesn't matter. It's up to the owner to understand what type of things irritate dinners and then actively work every day to make them disappear.
Here are three ways to keep your customers thrilled with your company and coming back time and time again for more of what you serve up.
Give customers what they want. Do a little research. Just don't ask your customers how their experience with you is, find out how they want to be treated. For instance, most customers prefer, in this order, service by phone, in person, online chat or social media, and then by email. A recent survey by Amdocs revealed that 91% of customers say they would use an online knowledge base if it were available. Plus, people expect to be notified about problems without having to ask. Communications is key.
Make your customer's day. Everyone likes to be treated well. It's easy to say “thank you” without spending much money, yet it'll make a tremendous impact and leave a lasting impression. Handwritten notes and birthday cards work wonders. Picking up the phone and calling to simply let customers know how important they are to your business will be greeted with delight. Consider offering customers who make frequent purchases or refer others to you a “reward” of some sort. It can be membership in your newly created VIP club that has some benefits like faster shipping or unique services just for them. Making customers feel special helps to cement a long-term relationship.
Create the best possible customer experience. According to restaurateur Danny Meyer, service is the technical delivery of a product -- hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel about the transaction. Yes, the little things do make a big difference. Greeting your customer by name or remembering their hobby is always remembered. Sending a welcome letter (not an email) with all the things customers needs to know about your company is appreciated every time. Answering the phone in an upbeat, friendly way is refreshing. These “little” experiences add value in a big way. It's what keeps customers coming back again and again.
Good things happen when your customers are thrilled with the way you treat them -- they spend more, cost less to service, and will spread the word about your company. Unhappy customers walk away and you never know why.
Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.