Customer’s in the 21st Century have far greater access to information about the products and services available to them than they’ve ever had. This makes it increasingly crucial for businesses to treat their customers as individual human beings, and put some thought and effort into making them feel appreciated.
So, while you’re planning how you’re going to make your mum feel appreciated this Mother’s Day, spare a thought for your customers too. Here are some simple suggestions and ideas to help you:
Ask customers how they would like to be addressed: Most companies now ask their new customers how they would like to be contacted, but how many go that extra step and ask them how they like to be addressed? I cringe every time someone calls me ‘Christopher’ in an email. Only my mum calls me that – and it’s normally a sign she’s annoyed! Yes, it may be the name that I was given at birth, but it’s not ME.
Give all new customers a nice, friendly welcome: Your first reaction here may be to think that you already do this with the friendly copy that you have chosen for your welcome pack or thank you email. But a generic email just doesn’t cut it any more. Take this as an example. A member of my family recently signed up for a new vehicle lease and promptly received an email thanking them for their business. While this is a nice touch, it wasn’t personalised and, as a result, I can’t help but think about how much better they could have made the experience. Especially with a large financial commitment like that, how powerful would a personalised email, or even a handwritten letter, have been? It’s customer service like that that leads to five-star reviews and referrals.
Acknowledge loyalty: My dad has been with the same well-known provider of breakdown cover for 49 years continuously. Now that is a loyal customer! Yet, when he received his renewal letter there’s no mention of this. No thanks or a token of appreciation, just a 10% increase in his annual subscription. Businesses are increasingly finding it harder to stand out among their competition, yet something as simple as thanking customers for their loyalty is often overlooked. And, surely it makes sense to look after the customers you do have rather than have to keep securing new ones.
Make your VIP customers feel special: In many businesses the 80/20 rule applies – that’s where 20% of the customer base accounts for 80% of the turnover. These are the customers your competitors want, and they may even be keeping your business afloat. Now obviously we don’t want to tell them that, but how do we ensure they don’t get tempted to go elsewhere? Making them feel valued you will strengthen the relationship between your business and your customers. Why not send them a personalised, hardbound version of your catalogue, instead of the standard one? Or, a personalised gift? Or, on an experience day? Whatever you decide to do, make it clear that it’s a ‘thank you’ rather than something linked to a reward scheme or a purchase.
Encourage feedback – and show that you listen: We all want somebody to listen to us, particularly if we’re not satisfied with the products or services we have received. Yet how many times have you struggled to find the contact details for a business that will enable you to speak to an actual person, or been passed from pillar to post between departments? Make it easy for your customers to tell you if there’s something you could do better, and let them know that you care if you haven’t lived up to their expectations. When I was recently trying to resolve a complaint with my broadband company, I felt like I was going around in circles until I wrote to the head of customer services. This was like flipping a switch. I was passed to a specialist team, with a dedicated personal contact who had been appointed to work with me to manage my complaint until it was concluded to my satisfaction. While this meant that a negative frustrating experience ended up being pretty positive, how much more powerful would this have been if it had happened as a result of my initial contact.
Say sorry: Sorry is such a powerful word. In business, where we are usually reliant on a combination of faceless people, software and machinery, it is incredibly human. Things will never go 100% to plan, so what is important is how we manage a problem and how effectively we respond. A colleague of mine recently ordered a sofa from a well-known high street retailer. There were some issues around the delivery and the sofa was returned to the warehouse temporarily, but then it disappeared in to the abyss. They received an apologetic formal letter, a discount and a gift card. Overall, the problem was well handled and my colleague felt satisfied. Imagine if the business had shrugged it off as “one of those things” or not apologised properly. They would probably have felt very differently about that business.
Let people know that you miss them: A lapsed customer isn’t necessarily lost for ever, but they may be if you don’t remind them that you are there. Get in touch to let them know that you’ve noticed their purchasing habits have changed, let them know that they are really missed and that you would really like to win them back. I was really surprised after five years of having a season ticket for my football team that no attempt was made via any communication channel to find out why I no longer purchased a season ticket and what they could do to entice me back. Especially as they have plenty of empty seats when they play.
Through writing this blog, I’ve realised that there is far more we at Prime Group can do to treat our clients as human beings and ensure they feel truly appreciated. So, that will be my mission for the next few months!
Ps If you want to know the brands and football club referred to above just message me!