According to a well-worn business adage, "Customers don't buy products, they buy you." In essence, building strong customer relationships is essential to the long-term health of your business. It’s critical to focus on every aspect of the customer experience to ensure repeat business. From the very first encounter, be sure to show a sincere interest in your customers and remember their preferences.
Often customers will both recognize and appreciate that you are paying attention and making a conscious investment in them. Not only does this increase the chances for an immediate sale but it also makes it more likely that your customer will speak highly of you and your business to his or her friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.
According to Retail Active, a mystery shopping and brand audit company:
Clearly, the best use of your marketing budget is to nurture and develop your relationships. Remember, people like to do business with those whom they like. Show your customers that they are more than just a “sale.” Instead, treat them as a valuable partner and in turn demonstrate that you have a vested interest in their business. With a little effort, you can learn about your customers’ unique needs and provide your product or service when it is most beneficial to them.
One example of such unique customer service involves Sainsbury’s, a supermarket chain based in the UK that received a letter from a little girl named Lily. Lily thought the company’s “tiger bread” more closely resembled a giraffe and, with the help of her mother, wrote a letter to Sainsbury’s expressing this sentiment. Sainsbury’s customer service department responded to Lily with a cute letter about the origins of the tiger bread name, which Lily’s mom quickly posted to her blog. The letter eventually went viral and provoked public support for changing the name to “giraffe bread.” Seeing an opportunity, the company not only changed the name, but gave Lily the credit, no doubt garnering new customers and building loyalty among existing customers.
The bottom line: customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are on-going processes that you must strive to develop every day with every interaction and with every transaction, no matter how big or how small. And it is an effective way to grow your business without substantially increasing your budget.
So, try to find some unique and sincere ways to acknowledge and thank your customers. Examples include hand-written notes, webinars, “wowing” a customer with something over-the-top, book gifts and loyalty programs, among many other great ideas. The holiday season is also a great time to begin a customer service initiative that acknowledges the thankfulness and joy you feel for a client’s investment in your business. A simple acknowledgement that someone is valued will go a long way in your retention efforts—and it could even make you stand out from your competitors!
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