WIN THEIR HEARTS: Customer relationship is very important to the growth and success of your business. Retaining loyal customers is a process and nurturing such relationship between the business and the end user is crucial for growth and success. Many businesses in their quest for success and high profit margins, have neglected the basic relationship needs of their customers. Your customers are not just the end users of your services or products. They are not mediums to get value (money) for what you are offering.
In this age of social media and innovation, treating your customers right should not be a pain in the neck but one of your business priorities.
As powerful as the word of mouth is, and a speed with which customers spread good news about their favorite businesses, services and products, it’s with same powerful mode used by unhappy customers to ruin the reputation of brands and businesses.
Treating a customer right is not rocket science. It’s paramount for startups to know the secret to a business growth and success isn’t only in running the business right, but also treating their customers with the same likeness to their business. The customers are the business. There is no business without customers and no customers without the business. The two are intrinsically connected.
Recently, I had read about a customer’s displeasure of trust on social media. At a first read, it was amusing but a very valid issue. It was about a particular bank which expected their customers to trust them with their monies but can’t trust its customers with their pens. Hence, they make the pens undetachable and uncomfortable to use. This is very common practice in most banks.
Having read that, I shared the same sentiments and experience of another bank. This was on a big social media network with over two billion users; Perhaps, a huge number of customers of the same or related bank, can go on sharing this sad and unfortunate truth about customer services with common friends. In the end, some reputation could be damaged.
Creating a relationship between your customers should not be limited to the products or services and the customer, it must go beyond that. The customer need to have a relationship with the business and not the offering (products sand services) as a focus.
It is important to establish a connection with the customer where they can trust the brand and love whatever they produce and offer rather, than loving the product and not trusting the brand. When there is a new product and service, the need for another relationship would become necessary to get the customer to love it.
Businesses are failing at providing customers with experiences worth sharing with other customers and failing to give the customer the opportunity to relate with the brands and businesses serving their needs. They are treated like burdens, a source to only make lot of monies and treated as nuisances when their voice of dissatisfaction is heard.
The focus to make profits have become the ultimate goal of businesses today than protecting and nurturing the source of the profits (the customer). Millions are wasted daily to reach the right audience and to manage broken reputation after the “valued” ones have been ill treated and mismanaged. Customer service is dead. It is nothing but just a meaningless phrase.
Unfortunately, many of us are victims of the situation. The word “Valued” customers have been shredded along with the unwanted paper into the bin. It has no meaning to businesses anymore.
Startups are building modern business and human related services, how can this be corrected?
How can customer service be integrated into their company’s culture?
How can they treat their customers right?
Developing a customer focused culture and making your team adopt these cultures in treating the customer the best way possible must not be overlooked.
Eight (8) Ways to best treat your customers well
1. Respect and Value the Customer
There are thousands of customers who have expressed disapprobation and still have been disregarded. These painful disapprovals do not only end with the first contact of the business but it is shared between friends, colleagues and loved ones – the communication chain builds up. The trend continues in that order until the business loses its most customers. Respecting the customer does not only build brand reputation in the long run. It also rewards you valued customers who would grow genuine love for the business because they are treated like humans.
When customers are shown respect regardless of the circumstances, their moods or response, they will always remember to share that experience with a third party – the power of word of mouth – ‘the customer’s experience’.
Create room for customers to openly express their opinions the best ways they feel without any restrictions. Quite often, it is difficult to manage and tolerate customers behaviors but patience and customer service discipline is key to keeping situations under control.
You can also create some flexible terms and rules for customers to follow to earn the respect they deserve. This can be tricky but very effective if well set to follow. Rules can keep people in order.
2. Interact with Them
Interaction with customers give you the opportunity to have feedbacks from them. A genuine interaction on which ever platform or medium is good for customer engagement. Respond to their questions. Express good intent to their opinions. Use
social media tools to track brand or company mentioning and respond to them timely and satisfactorily.
Never fail to have a face (personality) representing the business on any level where interaction can take place. Especially when using social media presence.
You must be respectful to the customer. With every interaction, there must be an introduction, an open and closing remarks.
Value should not always be in the form of monetary between the customer and the business. Some form of love and relationship can be created to lessen the ‘services-for-money’ connection the business and customer shares.
Hear what the customer has to say. Listen, Listen, and Listen. Never interrupt the customer who has any complaints or dissatisfaction to share. You can only improve your product and services from the customers “nagging”. They never miss out on what you need to improve. You only know when you listen.
It is important to truly listen to your customers feedback. But it is most important to take them into consideration and follow through to the latter when their opinions have been communicated.
Customers are important to your business and failure to treat them as such can cause a backlash. Businesses and customers dialogue takes place on various forms and levels because of today’s innovation. Collect feedbacks from all the available and used platforms, respond to them not when necessary but timely and analyze them for the growth and success of your business.
4. Be Honest; Build Trust
Trust is earned, not given. You must earn the trust of your customers. It is a gradual process. Trust can only be earned, when a transparent relationship exist between the two (the customer and business). No matter the size of your business, it takes several corrective measures to make up for one bad experience.
Share updates, little details such as products or service changes or alterations, price increments, errors, terms and conditions etc with your customers. It is better for you to tell them than for them to figure it out. It can be assumed deliberate or perceived negatively.
5. Show Gratitude
A simple appreciation can win the hearts of many customers. It will earn you loyal customers as well as brand influencers for free.
A little thank you sent out to customers for their feedbacks, for taking your surveys, alerting your attention to an oversight and to sharing your posts consistently on social media will enhance the loyalty for a life time.
A customer never forgets a goodwill from their favorite brands. Everyone loves to be appreciated; even the customer.
Basic gratitude and kindness enchants the hearts of every customer. Practice it.
Thank customers for choosing your products and services once awhile.
6. Follow up on Promises
The key is to set up realistic customer expectations and exceed them. Promises are not just words, they are bonds between customers and the business. Once broken, a customer’s loyalty is lost. Note there’s a difference between customer’s satisfaction and loyalty. Learn to keep your words to the customer. Customer’s expectation must never exceed your business goals. Keep a manageable expectations with them.
When you have become consistent on your delivery, timely response, and staying true to your words, customers become acquainted and can predict future actions.
Following up on promises in the long run build trust.
7. Be Easily Accessible
Be available at all times to the customer. Don’t be invisible to find and difficult to access. In this age of technology, you can’t afford not to be easily accessible at any time; at least if not immediately at a reasonable time.
Don’t take forever to respond to emails, do not be hard to get via a telephone call or on social media which can be accessed on any smart device.
8. The Customer is always RIGHT
There is no exception to this rule. And even though this phrase is opened to many assumptions, there’s a bigger truth to it. No matter the circumstances, the customer is always considered right. There are many ways to solve this notion and balance the indifference between the customer and your business. This rule will guide your business to its growth and success if well understood and strategically managed in any event.