There is a particular restaurant my wife and I frequent where the waitstaff always make us feel welcome. They receive us with warm smiles and on the days one of us arrives before the other, they go to great lengths to ensure that they are comfortable as they wait. What keeps drawing us back to the same place, apart from the food and the ambience, is that almost everyone we’ve interacted with remembers our preferences and is very willing to offer great suggestions based on what they think we would like. We feel like celebrities there so we always make it a point to go back.

summer-wine-celebration

Making your customers feel valued is a very big step in building customer loyalty. While each individual is different, there are some ways you can make your customers feel important every time they interact with your business.

Make it personal

While you’re making a sale or offering service, chances are relatively high that your customer will share valuable personal information – a twitter handle, their URL, something. Do your digital homework to make the next conversation personal. Pay attention to find an angle which will make them feel appreciated; a congratulations on their favourite team’s last result(or commiserate with them on the last resounding defeat) , a positive remark on some content on their website, a link to some useful content in their domain, get creative. Keep it appropriate though – we don’t want anyone getting a restraining order against you.  Get to know your customer well enough to personalise each experience you have with them.

Do  superman and resolve their issues immediately

If you have a customer with an issue, resolve it immediately (or as fast as you possibly can). Few things build loyalty like a product/service that just works and one that tops that with ready-solutions when it doesn’t. Resolving issues immediately requires a bit of planning on your part. Here are two ways to go about it:

  • The DIY approach: Have a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate knowledge base that allows your customer to solve their issues themselves. Make it easy for a customer to read-up on/watch videos of how to resolve common issues. This requires that you invest some time in creating this content.
  • Support Staff(which might just be you): Train all your support staff well. Empower them to, as much as possible, resolve issues on first contact with the customer. Have a knowledge-base for your support staff as well. For issues they cannot handle, have a well-oiled system that allows them to escalate to someone else and track feedback

      As a team, agree on some standards for response-time to keep yourselves accountable. Write these standards down and add them to your support staff knowledge base.

Also, for instances where you need to respond later, it’s best to have an organized way of tracking what the issues are, especially as your customer list grows. One great way of doing this is by using a Help Desk. Help Desk software helps you track what you’ve  responded to and also collaborate easily on issue-resolution. We’ve shared before on what to consider when choosing a WordPress Help Desk plugin 

Surprise, surprise! The good kind

A follow-up call, an email, a handwritten note, a tweet and any other appropriate communication can go a long way to create good vibes and build loyalty.  

Forwarding a news article that’s pertinent to your customers or their business lets them know that you don’t just think about them when they are spending money with you, you’ve got their best interests in mind. Knowing that you’re looking out for them puts you on a whole new level of favourite organizations. Remember that one key advantage you have as a small organization is that you can do things that don’t scale.

 One way to do this is to come up with a list of ‘company surprises’ and at what point a customer receives them. Have a list of your customers and when they achieve that milestone, send them the surprise

Listen

There’s a Beyonce song by the same title but this isn’t about it. Your product/service growth will be stunted if you don’t know listen to your customers. In “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, she states that businesses only hear from 4% of its unhappy customers. Customers generally don’t give feedback unless prompted (and a malfunction in a product/service is usually quite the prompting isn’t it?) So, to ensure that you don’t get a skewed view of your product/service (by only getting feedback from the unhappy lot), go out and ask for it – after they use your product/service, after they interact with a customer support agent, after ….you get the drift no?.

Let your customers know that their feedback is valued and that they are welcome to share it. It’s great to track this feedback you get so that you surprise(item 3 remember?) your customer by sending them a notification when you act on their suggestions.  For example, if a new feature’s requested for, send them a notification when you eventually implement it.

To track, you could use something as simple as an Excel sheet for this too.

Reward

Gifts make people dance. Someone important once said that. You can reward your loyal customers with discount coupons, gifts or information such as access to whitepapers, reports etc. Figure out a way to give your loyal customers (or customers who’ve shown a certain behaviour you’d like to encourage) more value. In WordPress’s WooCommerce for example, coupons allow you to give discounts to certain customers. More on them here.

In Easy Digital Downloads, you can use discount codes to do the same thing.

Valued customers are your loyal customers. Make every effort to make them feel important. With each positive impact you make on a customer, you will be rewarded – not only with their business, but by referrals and a good reputation (and that giddy feeling that comes with offering great support).

@TODO – Your action items

  1. Collect appropriate, useful personal information about your customers. e.g. website, twitter handle, etc. and use it to personalize your next interaction
  2. Resolve issues immediately by empowering your customer through a great knowledge base and your support staff through training, a knowledge base and team response time targets
  3. Ask your customers for feedback at every appropriate opportunity you get
  4. Surprise your customers with an email with information relevant to them, a handwritten note, a tweet
  5. Reward your loyal customers  with more value for less, like a discount on their next purchase

Eric Kimunyu leads marketing here. He has a passion for technology and its ability to transform lives.