What Can You Do for Your Customers?

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So you want something from your customers? You want them to advocate for your company, to refer their friends to your products, to share your content online, and review your business on Yelp.

“Why should I?” is the question you should imagine them asking you.

If you want them to do something for you, you need to do something for them.

“But I already gave them my amazing product,” you say.

They paid you for that. They did what you asked. Transaction complete. If you want them to do something to help you, you need to do more than simply deliver what they expected. You need to go beyond their expectations.

Here’s how…

1) Proactively reach out to assist

Most companies work so hard to sell their products and then completely forget about the purchaser immediately after. We think that if they need our help, they’ll ask. But the truth is that most people won’t. They will suffer in silence because they don’t have the time, don’t know who to contact, or they will decide it’s easier just to switch to your competitor than deal with it.

You can exceed their expectations by reaching out to ask about their experience. Ask if they need help with anything. Ask how they have enjoyed your product or service. Did it solve their problems? Address their needs? If not, what can you do to make things better?

2) Give them a free upgrade

Let’s say you have just come out with a new model or have improved the service that you offer. Do you reward your customers by automatically giving them the latest and greatest version?

Perhaps this runs against your business model. Perhaps you rely on customer upgrades as a revenue source.

But offering a free upgrade is a surefire way to exceed their expectations and turn customers into advocates for your business. That might be even more valuable than them purchasing the upgrade.

3) Enroll them into a loyalty program

If you don’t already have a customer loyalty program, consider the opportunity to deliver added value to your customers. You might offer discounts on other products, exclusive offerings, news and information related to their interests, and more.

Getting invited to join a loyalty program provides incentive to continue to engage with your brand in a positive way.

4) Connect them with likeminded people

Many successful brands have built a community aspect into their customer experience. Think Apple, Harley Davidson, and Canon. These companies offer experiences that bring their fans together in the real world.

Customer communities become natural places for new ideas and innovation. By giving your customers access to one another, you help them solve their problems and generate critical feedback for the business.

5) Say thank you

It may sound corny to business-minded folks, but simple acts of gratitude will go a long way with your customers. Think about the brands that you interact with. How many take the time to thank you for your business, really thank you?

Saying thank you is a way to deliver a human touch to a monetary transaction, laying the groundwork to a relationship beyond that one purchase.

Achieving Consistency in Customer Service

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It is important for companies to consider the following alternatives when it comes to customer service. Is it better to…

A) Achieve a standard level of consistent, quality support using canned answers and clearly communicated policies that are always adhered to, or

B) Let each individual customer service team member have the freedom to win customer loyalty through whatever means necessary.

Effective arguments can be made for both options. Neither one is wrong, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to customer service.

But let me argue to for what I see as the natural progression that companies should aim for.

When a company is in the early stages – from startup through say 20 or so employees – it makes more sense to give customer service a little more freedom. Early on, it is better to focus on making everyone happy. Since you are still learning what kinds of issues your customer service team will be dealing with most frequently, you want to fully-incorporate their feedback into marketing and product development. Option B makes more sense than option A above.

But as you grow into a more efficient organization, and your business model stabilizes, and you aim for consistent growth, you will get to a point where it makes more sense to standardize the customer service role. At that point, you can use all the experience your service team has built up to create a set of policies to be adhered to. You can flesh out clear and effective answers to all of the most common questions they are likely to get, and aim for consistency.

This way, as the team grows, the time it takes to train new people diminishes. Your customers are likely to get the same answer, the same level of service, no matter who they talk to. For a larger company, this should be the goal.

Turn Bad Yelp Reviews into Good Yelp Reviews in 2 Easy Steps

A bad Yelp review is something most business owners and marketers see in their nightmares. There is nothing worse than working to carefully craft a positive brand image only to have it marred by one customer’s negative experiences.

But getting a bad review does not have to be as negative as we tend to think it is. In fact, we can take steps to turn it into a positive. How?

Step 1 = Respond and React

When you get a negative review, view in the light of “how did we wrong this customer, and how can we make her/him happy again?”

A negative review is always a bad thing. Someone had such a poor experience with your brand that they went out of their way to complain about it in public. So the first step is to respond to the person (publicly on Yelp and privately if possible). Find out what went wrong and offer to fix it. Go out of your way to make this person happy again.

Step 2 = Request a New Review

Yelp makes it easy for a reviewer to update an existing review. In fact, it is incredibly easy for any user to turn a past 1-star review into a 5-star review if they are so inclined.

After you have made your customer’s day by fixing their issue, ask if they might take one additional step and update their review. This will reflect positively on your in two ways. First, it will show those who check your Yelp page that you are active in responding to customer complaints. And second, it will add to your overall Yelp rating.