As a result of my recent experience in a Lush shop (the company is really called Lush – I’m not trying to get down with the kids!), I thought I would share some tangible actions you can use to make your customers ecstatic!
Read about my recent customer service experience here: Great Customer Service
If you’ve ever looked in to courses or advice about customer service, you’re probably familiar with the theory that underpins great customer retention.
People are always telling us we need to make our clients feel unique, or special, or heard.
The Problem…It’s Just Theory
The problem with this kind of advice is it looks great on paper, and we can nod and agree with every principle, but it’s a bit like eating candy floss.
Great at the time, but it fizzles away in to nothing as soon as it’s finished.
The problem with theories is that we can understand them, but translating them in to tangible actions can be tougher than we may first think.
I know that I need to make my customers feel unique, in theory.
But what does that actually mean, in terms of concrete activities I can do?
Let’s take a look at the top twelve real, actionable ways we can make our customers come back again and again, through great service.
They fall in to three categories:
- making them feel unique
- listening to them
- communicating with them
Let’s delve into each one…
Make them feel unique
OK, here’s that principle again.
To turn it in to an action, we need to understand what feeling unique may be.
For me, it’s about real steps:
- Send your customer a thank you message when they have been using your services for a set period of time. It’s about remembering who they are, when they joined you, and tracking what they have purchased from you so they know you fully understand them
- Visit their blog or company web site, and support their business through comments and interaction
- Be proactive about your customer proposition, offering long-term customers incentives to stay with you such as discounted rates once they have been with you for a year, or a loyalty scheme where regular users get special offers and services which you would not provide for new clients
- Where possible, use the services of your own customers, supporting by offering them your business, just as they bring you their own.
Listen to them
One of the primary goals for business owners is to make our customers feel as if we understand them and their needs, and can respond to them.
In a tangible way, this means…
- Remembering their name, even if it means keeping a database of all your contacts, and letting them know that you remember who they are, and what they require from you
- Hearing exactly what they are saying to you, making notes of what they have said, keeping their mails and revisiting their messages before you get in touch, so every time you speak to a client you know exactly who they are, what they want, and how you can help
- Being practical. If you know that a specific solution could benefit your customer, put it forward to them even if this means that you can’t charge them as much as if you had delivered their original request
- Making the effort to sit down before making contact, and considering what they need from you, and then proposing the ideal, tailored solution to meet their needs.
It’s harder than you think to listen, and actually good listening is much more about strong administrative processes than being quiet and taking in what they are saying!
Communicate with them
Staying in regular contact with your customers is much more than dropping them a spammy newsletter once a month.
Strong communication involves:
- Mailing them directly to give them an update about what you have been doing, calling them by their name, and avoiding corporate-style whitewash correspondence that only serves to frustrate them
- Communicating with your clients well by calling them up on a schedule, to let them know you are there and asking if they need anything
- When you deliver a piece of work or a service, call your customer up and get their feedback, and make changes based upon what they say
- When you meet someone who could benefit from networking with another of your customers, offer to link them both up to help them out. If you’re in your customer’s part of the world, offer to drop in for a coffee and a catch up to do some proper networking. Hold your customers in your mind at all times, and think through how you can take real actions to show that you are thinking of them.
The boomerang effect (i.e. ensuring customers come back time and time again) is simple to achieve, if you build in real activities to a strong schedule. Your customer relationship strategy is just as vital to your ongoing business success as the products you provide and the service you give, so you can up your retention rate by actively applying the principles of service that we all know.
What actions do you take to keep your clients coming back time and time again?
Please share your views in the comments below.
‘thank you’ iamge by vistamommy
Great tips… Thank you. In the past, after meeting with clients or prospective clients and gleaning a hobby/interest of theirs, I’ve sent them books, coffee, chocolates, and (in one case) multiple destination pins that a client collects for her nephew. These actions are ways for me to express genuine interest in others while, to your point, demonstrating that I was listening…
That is true listening – especially the destination pins.
It all boils down to appreciation and you’ve just given us 12 steps to make that appreciation tangible and practical.
Do you use things like this?
I definitely agree with all your points especially about listening and communication. I think listening and communicating makes you stand out, plus when if they ask a question keep a note of it you never no when you might need some inspiration for a new blog post.
Don’t you think that just by listening and communicating – we stand out…is crazy? I agree with you but it shows how bad customer service has got if we only have to listen and communicate!
The customer experience is huge. I know I always think better of a company if they are responsive to my needs. I look for how quickly they answer my questions as well as how responsive they are to my personal needs. Listening to me and answering my questions in a direct manner is a big step in the right direction.
Yes – responding to them in a timely manner – priceless (and crucial).
I even go back to a store again and again just because the sale person bother to smile and say thank you after I bought something.
I think these are great tips and ones that I could do with reminding myself of. I personally answer every email I receive as it’s building relationships. I know of a lot of top online personalities who never reply to emails themselves unless it’s someone they already know. I know volume is an issue but if Steve Jobs managed it….
Do you keep a schedule of people to contact or do it as part of day-to-day business as usual when you interact with people?
I personally respond to all emails myself as well – I think that is something I would never outsource.
I keep notes ot things I want to communiate and then each month do my best to schedule them in. Plus the odd ad-hoc one here and there as well.
Andrew, your post confirms what we know, but sometimes forget: success is not what you know, but what you do with what you know. As long as the customer feels important (“how”), the rest (“what”) loses in importance, and with a good communication, failures and mistakes are recoverable. Comedians say to make people smile you’ve got to love them. I think it applies to marketers and their customers, too. For some businesses, customers are the reason they are in business. For others, customers are distractions to getting work done. It’s easy to see which one will succeed.
Excellent points. When I worked in the corporate world – we were under a lot of pressure to deliver new projects and yes, customers were often distractions!
Now…without them I would not have a business.
Could not agree with you more Beat! If only everyone would implement what they know; then we could all start enjoying better customer service everywhere.
I think the first one – say thank you – is an excellent starting point and so badly missed. But why wait a set period of time? If we’re going to build a relationship with customers, a genuine thank you should start immediately? Good lists though, thanks.
I understand what you mean about not waiting…I did make the assumption that we would immediately say ‘thank you’ to the customers…but I should have highlighted that.
Great post Andrew, and you’re really right. At the end isn’t this how we would like to be treated? It’s not easy to follow these advices, or at least all of them, but surely you’ve laid down everything needed to do it well and make customers happy.
Have a great week!
It does take discipline and organization…I agree. But if you want to stand out…do it!
Thanks Andrew for the great tips once again.
One thing that i do is try to find out one thing about the customer, write it down and refer back to it.
like maybe a childs name or something that they have told me in the past.
When we remember the little things they do feel special.]
Thanks again and have a wonderful week.
Little things like that make a difference.
I was talking to a new client only the other day and she had a sick puppy. His name was ‘Jack’.
Now I like to know about Jack, each time we speak!
For my Internet business I have a series of auto responder messages that are sent out to customers after they purchase a product to ensure they’re happy with it, don’t have any questions, etc. For the brick and mortar gym my wife and I own we’ve really focused on learning our members names, sending them a hand written thank you note when they join, and doing our best to address the concerns they express in terms of ways to improve the facility and/or enhance their overall experience with the gym. It really sets us apart and has gone a long way in terms of membership retention and overall satisfaction.
You make it sound so simple (and it is!).
So why do the small things like that make so much difference?
Because 99% of companies just don’t get customer service!
I like the comment made about appreciation. If you let your clients know how much you appreciate them, they will be more than happy to refer people to you.
Thanks for the reminders Andrew! I love it when a blog post focuses my thinking, and this one has done that. I am excited to come up with unique ways to make my customers feel special. Should be fun!
Let us know what you come up with.
I have had to get my head around going the extra mile to keep customers and to get them to give me referrals. The old adage of they buy you before buying your products has never been more true.
Our attitude means a lot. We should care for our customers so that they feel special. We must listen to them and interact with them so that they share their problem related to the product.By the means we are improving our product.
Easier said than done…sometimes!
Lush is a funny shop – I always presume that if you work there for 5 years, you will permenantly loose your sense of smell. I love the fact that the product tells you who made it – this instantly helps you form a bond with the company, or should I say, the people behind it.
Yeah – I know what you mean about the smell!
It was only in the past few months I knew what a range of stuff they sell. I thougt it was just a ‘soap’ shop. It’s not..they sell loads of other things as well…all to do with grooming though.