It can cost a fortune to find new customers. Websites, SEO, outsourced social media, advertising, promotions, exhibitions, trade fairs, PR, tendering, sales collateral, sales visits, negotiating, loss leaders…
It’s so much easier when a customer has already bought from you. Hopefully, they know what they’re getting, they know what to expect and they like your products and service. At least they liked it enough to part with their hard earned cash once instead of going to one of your competitors. Which is a huge hurdle. As a result, it’s typically four to eight times cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to a new customer. So how can you keep them coming back?
Research has shown that over two thirds of customers who leave to buy from a competitor do so because of the indifference they perceive in the vendor – that is they don’t think they care enough about them.
So here are seven steps to go beyond customer satisfaction and start showing them that you really care.
1. Make it easy and pleasurable for your customers to buy from you. Smile, be polite, offer great service above and beyond their expectations. Often it’s the little things, like taking goods to their car, or posting it for them to a friend. Just little things that they weren’t expecting that makes life easier. If buying from you is at all inconvenient and they find an easier way, then they’ll take it. This is becoming more and more prevalent as people have less time and more money. And be consistent, so they know what to expect every time they buy from you.
2. Now step it up. Identify your ideal customers. Look at the customers you currently have and what it is that makes some better customers than others. Why do they buy from you. We’re going to build your customer service charter around your ideal customers so spend some time thinking about who they are, what they want, how and why they buy from you.
3. Survey your ideal customers. Ask them what they would regard as excellent customer service. Does it match with your own vision from step 2? Combine the two and create your customer service charter.
4. What can you guarantee your customers? This has to be something you can promise to deliver every time someone buys from you, and it has to be something that they will value (there’s no point promising something no-one cares about). Start with the processes you have and decide what you can promise as a result. You will improve your processes later and better your guarantee to keep your competitors one step behind. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver. That doesn’t mean offer an under-whelming guarantee. Rather it means under-promise on a startling guarantee.
5. Roll out your guarantee and customer service charter to your team. Get their input and get them involved. They’ll know best how they can be delivered.
6. Monitor your processes and delivery on your promises. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so put some metrics in place and keep a consistently regular eye on them.
7. As mentioned in step 4, keep improving your processes and your promises. As you keep on over-delivering and you find that you can do this consistently, build it into your process and promise.
Customers are willing to pay for service if it is a service that want. If the service exceeds their expectations they will keep on coming back. What’s more they’ll tend to say good things about you, effectively selling on your behalf. When this happens, you might be able to save so much money on your advertising that you can plough some of it into rewards for your best customers with a referral scheme or members club. Making it even more likely that they’ll keep on coming back!