We hear a lot about “good customer service” – but how can we provide “good service” in a way that doesn’t cost the business anything (financially, at least)? Buyer experience – and the importance of creating a positive one – is a new area of marketing that has emerged from the explosion of the web. Your competitor may have a better price (and the customer will not struggle to find this out) but if they don’t create an enjoyable buying experience, the customer won’t give them repeat business. So my top tips for satisfied customers are:
- (Obviously) Give them good stuff. It doesn’t matter if you do everything else on this list, if your actual product is pants, they won’t be come back. That said, you can’t please all the people all of the time: some customers may not agree with you on the level of quality you have delivered. However, if you treat them really well, a positive mindset will be created and they are less likely to bad-mouth you to their friends. This is still extremely valuable.
- Provide your customers with really clear product information. Images, technical specifications, videos, how-to-use guides… all of these represent valuable information to an existing or prospective customer. Keep your website updated regularly with information (good content) to make it a place customers and potential customers want to come back to.
- Remember to make your website customer-focused rather than bleating on about how great a company you are: with any luck, they will find this out for themselves. As the marketing mantra goes, do try to turn “features” into “benefits”, and always think of the products and services you offer from the customer’s point of view. (A bit of research wouldn’t hurt.)
- Create an easy, straightforward buying experience. Don’t over-complicate the process, and don’t expect customers to understand the intricacies of how you operate. Basically, make purchasing from your company as easy and stress-free as possible.
- Be on hand to provide expert advice and guidance. If you are good at what you do, you will be able to offer the customer the benefits of your experience and talk them through how to use products, how to make the most of items you supply and how to fix any problems that may arise. Think of new ways you can deliver this value-added service, such as internet communicators and forums. (These do cost you in terms of time, but it will be worth it) and remind customers frequently that they are able to use this service.
- Show honest prices – if you can, include VAT/delivery/whatever extras they may not have expected. One slightly larger figure from the outset is more pleasant to view than a new one on the payment screen, larger than originally stated with lots of hidden extras. Nobody likes nasty surprises.
- Under-promise and over-deliver! Certainly don’t over-promise and end up disappointing your customer needlessly. Provide realistic delivery dates, meeting times or follow-up slots that you are sure to be able to meet. If you can’t provide something – SAY SO. Which leads us to:
- Provide excellent communication! You may not always have an answer – or a particularly welcome answer – to a customer enquiry, but you should always be in communication with them, letting them know the situation as clearly as possible. Phone when you can, rather than email – it is more likely to reach them, far more personal and allows for two-way dialogue.
- Get things to your customer when you say you will. Track their delivery and let them know the status of their order. Promise to (and do) follow up the order when it has supposedly arrived with them to check it has arrived in one piece. Make sure you have a good courier (not necessarily the cheapest…)
- Offer a bit of free marketing – mention their company or project on your website or social media sites if it seems like something your other customers may be interested in. They are more likely to recommend you if you are the sort of company that recommends others. But don’t go mental.
- Give excellent aftercare. If something goes wrong, fix it. If something is missing, replace it. And above all, keep the communication open so that customers are not too scared to pass comment on your products and their buying experience. You NEED feedback, especially bad feedback, if you want to improve your product/service and the buyer experience.
Remember: think of everything from your customers’ point of view. Listen to them and change your system accordingly. And always treat a customer complaint as a chance to a) turn the customers’ experience into a positive one and b) improve your business!