For any business customer retention is vital – people re-purchasing is what makes the business world go round let’s face it.
The ultimate ‘celebrity service’ offered by any business has to be not only the best it can be but also consistent and long lasting.
A customer’s experience is key to create returning or re-purchase behaviour as well as recommending you on to their friends and acquaintances.
But what is customer service? Often it is purely paying that little bit of extra attention to your customer, what they like, how they like to buy and ensuring they get the same treatment every time. For example, imagine this scenario – you visit a small hotel, the interior is particularly to your taste and makes you feel right at home, there is a welcoming drink as you arrive (a drink that you particularly like), you get a room with a fabulous view, the staff are particularly welcoming, smiling and nothing is any bother for them. You have a great night’s sleep, find the perfect breakfast waiting for you and your particular choice of newspaper. You leave with a spring in your step & look forward to your next stay and you recommend it onward to your friends and colleagues.
Imagine now that you return to that hotel and the experience is exactly the same. It’s a great feeling – you know everything will be just as you expect and again you look forward to your next visit and you recommend onward again.
Now imagine that second visit again. This time the receptionist is grumpy, there’s no welcome drink, you’re room is dingy and has a strange smell (believe me I’ve been in rooms like this!!). You can’t get hold of anyone if you need something and to be honest it’s a relief to walk out the next morning, if you’ve managed to stay the night!
If the experience the second time round is like that, ie. not the same as the first impactful experience, your customer will not shop with you again – they will be off asking for other people’s recommendations and you’ll only see their dust.
Customer experience is key to customer retention. If they know you give excellent service and it fits with what they like, you’ll have a growing loyal bank of customers willing to share and grow your business.
So what makes an excellent customer experience? Here are 8 tips to consider:
- Anticipate what your customer needs – get to know your customer, build a profile, see what indicators they may have given you in the past and show them that extra something you have to make them feel special and that you have their best interests at the centre of your business.
- Show your smile – we all know that a smile can make a world of difference. Even on the phone, if you smile when you’re speaking to your customer they can feel the warmth and attentiveness down the line.
- Make time for your customer – every customer wants to feel like they are your only customer. No matter how busy you are, how many calls you have to do, take time to engage your customer in conversation if that’s what they want, use small details such as their name (if you know it!) or recall their previous purchase. They will feel valued and genuinely appreciated.
- Apologise when things don’t go right – No one and no business gets everything right all the time – mistakes happen and unfortunately whatever you think, you’re not perfect. As soon as you notice there is a mistake, apologise sincerely and do everything you can to make it right and keep your customer happy, within realistic limits of course!
- Give more than what is expected – in my hotel example everything was pretty much the perfect visitor experience, in fact it exceeded the expectations for the visitor. Everyone loves to feel special, so do something small but significant to make sure your customer feels how special you think they are.
- Don’t be afraid of feedback – feedback positive or negative is useful and can be used to review, praise and reconfigure as and when/where necessary. Always thank your customer for their feedback too, no matter how hard it can be to swallow!
- Be honest and always have integrity – always be honest about your products or services on offer – if you lie about what need you can solve, you will eventually be found out. If a customer is misled they will not appreciate it and it will damage their experience and your relationship with them, and they won’t be coming back to re-purchase at any point. They will also be telling their friendship circles too.
- Treat people as you would like to be treated – we all have an expectation depending on what values you consider important. Make sure your business reflects your values and gives the service to a level that you would personally expect. Usually you can’t go wrong with that as a starting point.
Keeping your customers at the heart of your business will keep your customers coming back. If you’re right for them they are a fabulous source of advertising for you, so it’s worth making your customer retention a key priority within your business.