“Our whole philosophy became ‘let’s take most of the money we would’ve spent on paid advertising and paid marketing and instead of spending it on that invest it in the customer experience/customer service and then let our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth’ and that became the whole business model.” — Tony Hsieh, Zappos
The importance of developing happy customers is clear. When our customers are deeply satisfied and sing our praises and refer us to others, it helps to build our business on so many levels. We want to have Raving Fans, which, as Ken Blanchard wrote in his book “Raving Fans,” are fans that “are so devoted to your products and services that they wouldn’t dream of taking their business elsewhere and will sing from the rooftops about just how good you are.”
What can we do, in addition to demonstrating appreciation, that will give our clients and customers every reason to be happy with us and our services?
- Become trustworthy. In today’s day and age, when we are bombarded with ads and salespeople hawking us for services, a leading factor in people’s decision-making about a particular good or service is trust. We may spend hours researching products only to find out that a friend that we know and trust recommends something else. Recently, I spent time getting quotes from different plumbers for a home project and then went with someone else because three different people texted me that they use him. Businesses can build trust in many ways, including providing honest answers and expertise and demonstrating genuine care in what’s best for the client. When you turn down a work opportunity because you genuinely feel that you’re not the best person for the client’s needs, you earn lots of credit towards future opportunities with that client or others that they refer.
- Ask them what they want. Take the time out of selling get to know them and their needs better. Ask questions like: “What is the biggest challenge you are facing?” “Why is it important that you find a solution?” “How can I help you?”
- Do the research for them. When you find out their needs, help them research solutions. Offer them different options based on what you found out, including options that don’t include what you can offer.
- Provide great value. When you service your people, make sure that you provide great value. There are many things that we can do to provide value. Mainly, it’s with the quality of your service and the impact that it has. According to Blanchard, a mere 1% more of offering or service compared to your competitors will do the trick. Value can be added with coupons, special rates or free giveaways. Do this particularly for your best customers.
- Over-deliver. Similar to No. 4, this speaks to the need to give a bit more than you agreed to. Let them feel that they’re getting their money’s worth and then some by getting a little more of your time or of a service that you offer.
- Service, service, service. Make sure that your clients are happy with your work or product. Be willing to ask and then take the right steps if there’s an issue. Being proactive goes a long way in helping people think that you care.
- Empower your staff to take initiative. One way to offer great service is to make it a real priority. Recently, I was treated poorly by a large airline that saw me as a way of making a few extra dollars in fees rather than as a long-time customer. From the feedback that I got both at the gate and on the plane, I felt that there was a deep sense of corporate-induced fear that was preventing the staff from accommodating me. Companies that make service a priority and empower their people to do what’s right in particular situations are the ones that gain deep customer loyalty and their business.
- Be cutting edge. By staying ahead of the curve you keep your people feeling that they made a great decision in working with and buying from you. In our fast-paced world, there’s a continued demand for the latest and greatest, particularly for items that solve real problems. Thinking in such terms and then delivering is a great way to keep your fans raving.
In the end, building a loyal, raving fan base is all about the relationships. As Tony Robbins points out, others may make commodities, but you can offer unique solutions by connecting with your customers by helping them solve a specific problem in a bold way. This is the key to making sure no one else in your industry even comes close.
Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, (@impactfulcoach) became an executive coach and organizational consultant following a career as an educator and school administrator. Read his blog atimpactfulcoaching.com/blog. Get his free leadership e-book, “Core Essentials of Leadership.”
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