It may seem obvious that successful business depends on satisfied customers. However, many businesses don’t realize that customer service goes far beyond answering a question or replacing a defective product. Providing great customer service means understanding what’s important to your customers, and how well your business performs around those priorities.
Here are just a few ways businesses can go the extra mile to expand their customer service plan to develop effective marketing relationships.
Gather feedback to learn more about your customers.
Carefully analyzing your customers’ satisfaction can open a world of doors. For one thing, customer feedback is a great source of fresh content ideas – it provides unique perspectives and helps identify common questions or problem areas. Feedback can also help marketers better understand and reevaluate their buyer personas. Similarly, learning more about how customers perceive and use your products can help you market those products more effectively. And of course, feedback highlights any opportunities for strategic improvements, whether adjusting a flawed tactic or strengthening a successful one.
So where can you find useful customer feedback, and how can you accurately assess it?
- Referrals. How often do customers recommend your business to others? Encourage them to share stories and recommendations, or to forward product information along to friends.
- Online Reviews. Monitor your blogs, social media pages, and website regularly to see what visitors really think of your brand (and respond to both complaints and compliments as promptly as possible!).
- Surveys. When in doubt, ask your customers what they think of your brand. Provide survey links on confirmation pages, emails, and receipts, or you can create polls on your social media pages.
- Repeat Business. Do your customers keep coming back to your business? If so, that’s great – but pay attention to what draws them back. And if they don’t come back, reach out to them and find out why.
Remember: effective customer service includes the good and the bad. Both happy and unhappy clients can provide valuable insight.
Make your customers a part of your brand.
One sale doesn’t mean they’ll automatically keep using your product or service. To inspire loyalty, it’s important to engage your existing customers and entice them to become involved with your brand.
Keep the conversation going. If you haven’t heard from particular customers in a while, it might mean they have no complaints – or it might mean they’ve lost interest in your business. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them! Let them know about new promotions, rewards programs, product updates, or anything else they might find interesting and relevant. Holding friendly contests can help boost engagement (especially via social media), and it never hurts to ask for stories, opinions, or reviews. Be proactive, too: try to anticipate challenges your customers may have in the future, and suggest new solutions.
Remember, the longer the silence, the less value customers will put on your brand. Your efforts may not bring in immediate sales, but they’ll go a long way toward keeping your brand in the top of your customers’ minds.
- Add a personal touch. Customers are more likely to maintain business with an organization they know and trust. In fact, many customers place greater value on friendliness, comfort, and familiarity than they do on the actual features of your product – so don’t be afraid to take that extra step.
- Customize your offers and correspondence. Enhance emails and form letters with information that’s relevant to each unique recipient, and send hand-written notes whenever possible.
- Recognize your most supportive customers, and let them know that you appreciate their business. Send them special coupons, invitations, and thank-you cards.
- When customers have problems, make sure they can speak with a real, sympathetic person (ideally by phone) to find quick resolution.
- A truly personalized customer experience helps build reliability around your brand, as well setting you apart from the competition. If your customers see your brand as a friendly, accommodating partner, they’ll more likely trust you to meet their needs.
- Seize the day on social media. According to #Socialnomics, 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media- because 90% trust peer recommendations. That makes social media not just a useful marketing tool, but an essential one.
Twitter, Facebook, and other networking platforms offer a great opportunity to engage customers by showing the personal side of your business. It’s also a way to monitor their opinions, interests, and motivations – which means you can identify, acknowledge, and reward your most loyal customers, or make efforts to change any negative perceptions other followers may have. Plus, don’t neglect a valuable channel for customer support. More consumers than ever use social media platforms to ask questions, register complaints, and resolve product issues.
Build the right image.
Like it or not, first impressions count – and what’s more, they’ll stick with the observer even though every encounter afterwards may be completely different. Make sure your place of business is clean, comfortable, and convenient, and that your website is attractive, user-friendly, and glitch-free. And what about your employees?
- Do they convey your professional brand image through their appearance, speech, and interactions?
- Are they friendly and helpful at all times?
- Are they informed and up-to-date about your business, your industry, and your product offering?
- Do they function as a skilled, unified team?
- Are they empowered to make decisions and fix customer problems on their own?
For many customers, a problem or question may be the first time they interact directly with your brand. Make sure they’re impressed! Every aspect of your business your customers see should reinforce the brand image you want to project.
It can take a little time and effort to build a successful service strategy, but it’s worth it. Satisfied customers will not only remain loyal to your brand, but also open the way to valuable relationships with new prospects.