Monthly Archives: January 2015

Do your customers feel appreciated?

thank your customers

 

It’s estimated that over two thirds of customers will fail to return if they feel unappreciated. This is probably the number one reason businesses lose customers.

So when speaking at a professional services group members meeting this week I was surprised by their reaction to the idea of saying thank you. To them this felt uncomfortable.

But how you say thanks is less important. It’s the fact you do something – anything – to show you appreciate your customer choosing to do business with you over and above all the other people or businesses they could have chosen.

What do you do to say thanks to your loyal customers so they feel appreciated?

Here are 5 things you could be doing if you’re not already…

1. Simply saying thank you

The easiest way to do this is of course is a sincere thank you in person.

But depending on the nature of your business and the value and relationship with each individual customer you could follow up with a simple thank you message.

By this I mean a personalised physical thank you note. Some think in this web based age this is out dated; but how would your customers react to receiving a handwritten personal note in the post, rather than another bland email clogging up their inbox?

It might be more appropriate to say thank you to a whole team of people. I’ve yet to find a team who doesn’t appreciate a special treat they can share in the office over coffee.

If your relationship is an ongoing one find an ‘excuse’ to make a thank you gesture. An anniversary, perhaps; a proud moment; moving house; or even to mark a special date in your own calendar, such as achieving an award; launching a new service; etc.

Which brings us nicely onto the next item…

2. Exclusivity

Give them privileged access to services, events, information or facilities which are only available to existing or your most valued customers, and not available to new customers. The more exclusive the better!

How does it make you feel when you see promotions offering special deals for new customers that aren’t available to you as an existing customer?

Make your loyal customers feel valued and special. Think of it like a members club, that delivers real benefits to members.

3. Remember them

Not only addressing your customers by name (although don’t under estimate the impact of this, especially when you aren’t expecting it). It’s also about remembering their preferences.

Do they have any particular likes and dislikes; special requirements, or preferences?

Do we know their important dates? How do they take their coffee? Remembering simple details will always be appreciated.

Record personal details and any special requirements so the service they receive is consistent whoever attends to them.

4. Ask for feedback

I know I’ve already mentioned this recently on this blog, but I’ll say it again…

Never take your regulars for granted; ask for their feedback and resolve any shortfalls quickly.

Problems or challenges are often your opportunity to shine and leave a positive lasting impression if dealt with positively. Now’s a chance to exceed expectations.

Face to face will always win over a questionnaire.

Ask customers what they like and what (if anything) disappoints; learn from this and continually improve. Customers appreciate you asking for their opinions as long as you follow through.

Keep them updated to demonstrate you’ve been listening. What better excuse to invite them back to show the changes you’ve implemented?

5. Show you care

Be attentive to your customers’ individual needs and specific circumstances. Listen, engage and take time to show your genuine interest in them.

Take every opportunity to give spontaneous and unexpected little extras that they won’t get from your competitors.

These may be totally unrelated to your products or services, but simply something you know they’d appreciate. They’ve mentioned something in passing they love, but can’t’ get hold of it; they have a problem in some other aspect of their life, but you happen to see something you think might help; you know it’s a loved one’s birthday and you happen to have something you think they’d enjoy…

Pay attention to detail, be consistent, do that little bit extra when needed, so your customers always feel appreciated.

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I’d love to hear what do you do to say thanks to your loyal customers?


How to get your customers spending more and thanking you for it

Vector value added stamp

One way to grow your sales is to increase the spend of each of your customers, be that on each occasion they visit or buy from you, or through repeat business. They’ve already bought from you so they now know you, hopefully like what you have offered them, and by now they’ll be able to trust you. So you already have a relationship.

The challenge is we (and our team) often feel reluctant to “Upsell”. We don’t want to be pushy or be seen to be manipulating customers into buying something they don’t want.

But just think about it for a moment….

How would you feel on Christmas morning when your child (or grandchild) excitedly opens their new toy and wants to play with it right now. They turn to you and say “But Daddy, it’s not working”. You then see those words “Batteries not included”?

Imagine the disappointment!

Or you buy them that electric drum kit they’ve craved for so long, and all they want to do all through the holidays is practise on it…….. And at the point you are about to pull the plug on it (quite literally) a friends says “But didn’t you get them a set of headphones too?”

…If only someone had suggested this sooner.

Rather than feeling uncomfortable about someone trying to sell you something you didn’t want or need you’d probably be frustrated or even annoyed if they hadn’t suggested the additional items such as the batteries or the headphones.

So instead of thinking “upsell” think in terms of “adding value”.

Sometimes this will lead to an extra sale, but as long as it as it adds value for the customer they are unlikely to mind you making a suggestion.

Three easy ways we can add value:

  • Pre-empt typical questions or problems our customers need solving. Think about what they might want or need, offer alternatives and suggestions for offers and deals that might complement what they’ve ordered
  • Make personal recommendations: customers love getting the insider or local knowledge based on your experience and what fits their situation or tastes
  • Remember them and their preferences

Adding value is not just about the potential sale today; it’s about giving the customer a better all round experience. It might simply be exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously, giving them something they might have forgotten to order, or never even thought of.

It’s a longer term strategy which could lead to additional business at a later date.

What to promote

So in order to do this effectively the first thing is to determine which are the products or services you wish to promote. It obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, but there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria.

Unless what you are promoting is perceived as value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and does little to build your customer’s loyalty or trust. It’s also important to distinguish between high selling price and profitability and appropriateness to meet the customers’ needs.

For example upselling to a more expensive bottle of wine when it does not appeal to the customers tastes, or upselling an annual admission ticket to someone who doesn’t live locally and is unlikely to make use of it.

You end up with an unhappy and disgruntled customer. So a very short term gain on your part, and hardly likely to lead to a naturally loyal customer.

Spot the opportunities

Look at all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to add value – not just in everyone’s own department – but across all areas.

Know your audience and review the buying patterns of your most profitable customers; what types of things do they frequently buy together?

Put yourself in their shoes; what might be a logical accompaniment for the main thing they are buying (in the same way those batteries are a logical purchase if you’re buying a toy that runs on batteries).

  1. At theatres – a programme for tonight’s performance, an interval drink, limited edition souvenirs
  2. For salons – when being pampered for a special occasion, would they like to get their nails done whilst having their hair done, or take home a special lotion to complete their beauty regime
  3. For hotels – options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms, recommending quiet times for spa or fitness centre
  4. In the restaurant – bottled water, suggestions for starters, accompaniments, side orders, deserts, desert wine, specialist coffees, after dinner drinks
  5. Gift items or jewellery – optional gift wrapping, gift cards
  6. Visitor attractions and museums – upgrading to annual tickets, access to exclusive areas, invitations to special events, cross promoting concessions’ facilities such as the café.
  7. At the bar or cafe – premium beers, tapas, home-made cakes with their coffee
  8. Follow ups – Does your service warrant an ongoing programme of sessions for best results, e.g. therapies, sports lessons, beauty treatments

I’m sure you’ll have many more specifics for your own operation.

Think ahead and try to anticipate things your customers might appreciate.

For example if a customer is buying a gift or to treat someone for a special occasion think ahead to what else they might be looking for such as gift wrapping, or card, champagne, flowers, celebration cake, etc

If what you provide involves the great outdoors and braving the elements what else might your customers need or want so that their experiences aren’t marred by bad weather? Having appropriate wet weather gear, hip flasks, and umbrellas are just a couple of things you might think of making available.

Even if you can’t offer all these yourself can you team up with other local businesses to make everything nice and easy for your customers?

Tell your customers

Don’t rely on telepathy for your customers to know what’s on offer! Have other products on show and give plenty of information on other services. And let customers know why this might be a good idea for them.

Ensure you and your team are able to talk confidently about each of the products and services available. You can’t sell something you don’t understand.

Allow your team to experience all the products and services first hand – this will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about it, and it will certainly be easier to evoke emotional appeal through vivid descriptions of feel, taste, smell, if they’ve experienced them themselves.

It’s also about timing. If you’re offering something that needs time to enjoy or savour, there’s no point telling them about it just as they are about to leave.

However, it’s always going to be easier to sell something of lower value at the end of the ‘sale’. Take for example when you buy a new suit, and you then get offered a shirt to go with it. The price of the shirt by comparison is small, so it’s an easy sale. Done the other way round has a very different result.

Judge your customers and when is the ‘right time’. For example in a restaurant selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still too full, and go straight on to coffee, ask too late and they have gone off the idea, and want to head off home. So it’s sometimes a fine line.

Train your team

Demonstrate to your team the importance of offering additional items to add value for your customers. Allow them to practise: for example how to ask open questions to identify customers’ needs and how to respond and make suggestions.
It’s all very well knowing what to say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope!

Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios.

And most importantly give them authority to look for opportunities and make suggestions and personal recommendations.

It all adds up to giving value, and making sure your customers don’t leave without their batteries….


Take stock of your Customer Service

On the twelth day of Christmas my true love sent to mechecklist

Tip #12

Take stock

What minor changes and improvements can you make to your customer service systems and processes to give your customers an even better experience?

Sometimes all it takes is a minor adjustment to make a big difference.

And if you can’t see the wood for the trees this might help…

 


Customer Service Training

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to mestaff-training

Tip #11

Review your Customer Service Training

Evaluate your current customer service training for new and existing team members.

Does it just cover the basics, or does it go into depth and give your team the confidence to become customer service champions?

Does it inspire and engage your team, or do they fail to see the relevance?

Does what you cover get actioned and have lasting impact, or does everyone carry on in exactly the same way the moment the training is over?

If you’d like help with this please give me a call on 07887 540914


Stay in touch with your customers

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me Radar

Tip #10

Stay in touch

Providing you’ve gathered contact details it’s easy to stay in touch via email to let customers know what else is happening in your world and ensure that you stay on their radar until such time they’re ready to buy again.

The more you can personalise this to your individual customer preferences the better.

For help with this see 10 top tips for getting started with email marketing

 


Break the mould

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to meBe different Black sheep of the family

Tip #9

Break the mould

Stand out from competitors in the way you look after your customers. Just because something is not the norm for customer service in your industry shouldn’t mean that you don’t do it; it could be the perfect way to make you stand out.

Think back over the past few weeks when you’ve been a customer. What have you experienced that left you with the feel good factor?

Observe what other industries do that helps the overall customer experience and identify what you can borrow and adapt for your own industry or profession.


Engage and enthuse your team for the year ahead

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to meteam

Tip #8

Engage and enthuse your team for the year ahead

Happy team equals happy customers.

Unless you’re doing something to keep your team motivated and involved and empowered there’ll come a point when they just stop bothering. Particularly if they’ve been off over the Christmas period it’s time to inject some new energy. Give your team something to work towards so they’ve a sense of purpose and focus. Play to their strengths and preferences.

 

 


Reward Your Team

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to methanks

Tip #7

Reward your team

We’ve already talked about thanking customers, but at the end of the busy Christmas period it’s also important to give your team a thank you for their hard work over the year as a whole as well as any periods.

It doesn’t have to be lavish, a simple thank you for all their hard work goes a long way.

Identify what’s of value to them: For some a little bit of flexibility or free time to do something with their family or loved ones – or simply a bit of time for themselves – might be the most valuable gift you can give them at this time of year.