Many businesses often overlook the day-to-day things they can integrate into their interactions, communications and company culture to really make a difference. In most cases, these seemingly tiny items matter quite a lot to customers. Customers typically don’t care as much about the price of your product as they do about being treated well, having a positive buying experience and some semblance of peace of mind throughout the process.
I am sure you would agree that you will not find success just by selling a product and walking away. The entire experience counts. From the first touch, your customers are forming an opinion of you (and your intention) to provide them a product or service that won’t make them regret it in the minutes, days, or months to come.
I refer to these things as ways to “honor your customers.” Honor in the sense that you are showing them, even in seemingly small ways, that you acknowledge and respect them. Think of them as a multitude of ways to smooth out potential bumps in the experience of interacting with your brand. You may have an outstanding product, but that can be easily overshadowed by the overarching experience of a poor customer experience. Common sense? Maybe, but brands slip up far too often when given the opportunity to sweat the small stuff so customers don’t have to.
In no particular order, here are some of the ways I think you can honor your customers:
- Hire employees that are passionate about helping your customers and not just making a buck.
- Share great content that makes your customers better, faster, stronger, smarter, etc.
- Make your web site easy to navigate. And don’t assume it already is.
- Provide an easy way for your customers to submit feedback and suggestions.
- Don’t advertise one thing and sell another.
- Make transactions painless. How many steps does it take to select a product and then have it in hand?
- Share the successes of your customers even when they are not related to your product or service.
- When you make a mistake, provide a sincere apology and an effective solution … as quickly as possible.
- Listen first, then speak. This goes for online and offline communications.
- Don’t pass the buck. If you are not the one with the answer then make sure your customer gets placed into the hands of someone who has it.
- Leave your emotional baggage at home. Your moaning, slouching, and frowning is contagious.
- Host an event for your customers so they can meet each other face-to-face.
- Introduce your customers to other businesses and people they may benefit from.
- Don’t put them on hold for more than 30 seconds. Better yet, ask for their number and call back when you are free.
- Enable your customer service staff to tackle all possible issues without transferring them to another department.
- Smile and say, “Hello.” You might just make their day doing something this simple!
- Make it easy for customers to contact you in whatever way is most convenient for them (Phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, store front, etc)
- Feature your customers in a blog post. They might just share it with their friends and family.
- Include them in the process of developing new products. After all, they are the ones buying them.
- Make your email newsletter as easy to unsubscribe as it is to subscribe. Spam makes everyone unhappy.
- Let your customers rate and review your products or services. If you have a great product then you have nothing to fear. If you don’t then you will soon find out.
- Make sure you have enough staff available to help everyone in a personable and timely manner.
- Give whenever possible with no strings attached. Hidden fees and agendas rarely make for loyal customers.
- Make it easy to return or exchange items. Reducing the risk of being stuck with a bad purchase instills confidence and peace of mind in customers.
- Let your customers get to know your employees. Their passion for your brand is infectious.
So I shared quite a few suggestions here, now it’s your turn. Mind sharing a few of your thoughts on honoring customers? Leave them in the comments section for all to see.
As a final treat and because I think Apple does a pretty good job of honoring their customers, I wanted to share with you a video of my experience buying an iPad 2 (after waiting in line for a few hours with a bunch of really cool people who made the experience fun). You might notice at least a half dozen little things that Ross, the Apple employee, does to make my experience a positive one.
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