The Power of Thank You
Gratitude is Free. Customer Loyalty is Priceless. Try these simple and creative strategies to improve service and gain more repeat customers
Today, we are in the midst of a marketing sea change. The whole concept is changing from advertising to customer recommendation. Thanks in large part to e-commerce sites, like Amazon, and review sites, such as Yelp, consumers are increasingly looking to recommendations from fellow consumers before they buy. This purchasing trend is now impacting the way people shop for professional services, as well.
Peter Shankman, author, speaker, and principal at Shankman | Honig, a customer-service consultancy and founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique social media, marketing and PR strategy firm, refers to this trend as the conversation economy. “In the near future, we won’t even have to go on Yelp, because where we eat or where we shop will pop up on all our social feeds,” he says.
Good Service Begins at the Beginning
Customer service will play an increasingly important role in not only retaining the customers you have, but also acquiring new ones. According to Joseph Michelli, best-selling author of Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People, many business owners love what they do and are fans of their products, so they focus more on the product strategy than they do on the delivery and customer experience strategy.
Michelli says one way to create more focus on the customer in your business is to make sure you and your employees present an energy of gratitude as soon as a customer walks into your business. “Most people think customer service happens after the sale,” says Michelli. “But it’s essential to show gratitude to people from the moment they arrive at your establishment, call your business, or visit your website.”
To give each customer great service from first contact, treat each one of them as if he or she were world-famous. “It’s also important to refresh after each customer interaction in the way the paparazzi refreshes after each celebrity,” says Michelli. “Each customer or potential customer wants to be seen and heard, and you can’t do that properly if you are still thinking about the last customer.”
Service after the Sale
How can you be sure when a customer or client leaves your business, he or she will have good things to say? Don’t let a single customer leave your business or hang up the phone without first asking, “Is everything ok?” and train your employees to do the same.
Shankman says almost all of the customer service issues posted to Twitter could have been prevented with good customer service. “Human beings want to feel that they are not just bunch of numbers in your database,” says Shankman.
Empower Employees to Serve
One final tip about aligning your business with referral-worthy service is to empower your employees to make customer service decisions without having to get approval. If employees are afraid to make tough decisions about service, they will end up frustrating your customers. Allowing your employees to determine when to discount a service or make good on a product that did not live up to a customer’s expectations will cut down on the times your customers will have to hear the dreaded, “Let me ask my manager” response. Shankman says, “The best companies’ employees know the only way they will get in trouble is if they let a customer leave unhappy.”