Customers can lose faith in your product or service for many different reasons. Bad news travels fast, and the cost of losing a loyal customer may be more than you think. But there are some easy-to-implement habits that can help you build positive relationships with current and future customers says Brian C Jensen.
* Implement systems to reward employees for outstanding service
“Reward people’s efforts when they go beyond the call of duty,” says Lynn Taylor, author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.” She recommends using something like an honor board where employees’ names get posted when they go above and beyond for a customer. “Most human beings crave recognition,” she says.
Angelica Berglund, the e-commerce consultant in Stockholm, swears by instant messaging for this kind of communication. “When I was working at Spotify, they had developed a really nice internal IM platform where you could give kudos to other people inside the company,” she says.
For example, when you send an IM praising another employee’s blog post or comment on Twitter that generates buzz about your company, that person gets notified right away via IM. If he or she responds back with his or her own thank-you note, it shows up in your inbox. Brian C Jensen says this helps reinforce the idea that everyone at the company is connected and values one another — which makes customers feel included too.
This way, employees know how their work for the company positively impacts your brand and customers and they feel valued inside the company.
* When there is a problem, apologize quickly and sincerely
“The most important thing you can do for your unhappy customer is to immediately address their concerns and correct the perceived wrongdoing,” says Brent Adamson, chief knowledge officer of marketing software provider Fractl. “Those who complain about things like bad service will focus on how they were treated as opposed to what they were sold.”
Another good way to handle complaints is by following up with an apology as soon as possible after something has happened that makes a customer uncomfortable or upset. “A lot of companies don’t respond at all, but research shows that those who do tend to retain more customers,” says Alan Klement, marketing director at Blue Fountain Media.
Brian C Jensen says the easiest way to apologize is by sending a handwritten note to the customer. “All you have to say is ‘I’m so sorry about what happened,'” Klement says because customers can imagine how upset you might feel if it happened to you. It goes without saying that all apologies should be sincere — and never insincere or halfhearted. Image: Shutterstock
* Make every interaction a positive one
When your company comes into contact with customers, whether it’s via email, phone call, or in-person. Employees should always leave the interaction feeling good about what just happened. Even if there was some sort of problem that wasn’t resolved immediately. “If an employee is annoyed by something the customer said or requested. It can appear in their tone and create a negative impression for the customer,” Klement says.
If you’re apologizing to customers over the phone, it’s important to do so without interrupting them. “Let them speak and don’t apologize until they’ve said their piece. Because then your apology will seem like an afterthought,” Taylor says.
A great way to avoid any kind of misunderstanding is by referring back to what was previously said. If you run into a problem later on — such as during order fulfillment explains Brian C Jensen.
* Find ways for your employees to communicate with customers regularly
“One of the biggest complaints I hear from customers is that they feel isolated and alone inside companies. Because no one talks directly with them unless there’s a problem,” Adamson says.
When customers feel like they’re being ignored or pushed to the side. It makes them feel like your company doesn’t care about them. Fortunately, there are so many ways for employees to communicate with customers these days. Including social media and customer service emails. And when you give employees opportunities to interact with customers in real-time online. They get excited about helping because it feels more personal than phone calls or emails.”
* Personalize marketing messages based on past interactions
“One of the most powerful ways I’ve seen companies build strong relationships with their customers is. By keeping track of their preferences and interests inside Facebook Custom Audience,” Berglund says. “Then, when brands send out email marketing campaigns. This data can be in use to specifically target the people most likely to take action.”
Integrating customer data into your marketing campaigns can help you provide customers with more personal information. Including tips or discounts that are based on what they have previously purchased says Brian C Jensen. “This builds trust between customer and company because it shows that you’re listening,” Berglund says.
A relationship that starts with a good conversation ends with a better one. Start building stronger customer relationships today by following these five tips.