Twenty years ago, one could say that company branding was like a foghorn—a one-way blast that reached your target audience with little back and forth. The upside? Top of mind awareness was relatively cheap and you guaranteed your brand had a voice. If someone had a complaint, they could write a letter or call customer service, but that was about it.
Fast forward to 2015, and consumers ARE your brand. You need them to love you because everyone is a news anchor, everyone has a social platform, and your reputation can be shredded by one bad interaction. Jay Baer, author of Youtility, reports that Edelman finds that when a company is distrusted, 57 percent of people will believe negative information after hearing it just one or two times. Conversely, when companies are trusted, 51 percent of people believe positive information about the company after hearing it just one or two times.
Here are five terrific ways to show love to your customers in ways that keep them coming back and shouting your name from the rooftops.
1. Offer Exclusive Perks to Customers
Everyone wants to be a part of the inside club, the cool group. Offer special discounts, sneak peeks on new products, and more. How can you make these customers feel closer to you? If you can create a highly committed community, invite them to give you great feedback on products you are just starting to create. They can help shape your product with you.
2. Invest Heavily in Customer Service
When even local retailers sometimes offer online chat customer service, you can’t afford to wait even a day to respond to your customers. Remember that they have the microphone and if you don’t take them seriously, their issue could be all over Twitter in 30 minutes with undesirable hashtags and your company name. Staff up, train people right, and choose customer service personnel who can keep their cool. But most of all, empower those customer service employees to actually fix the problem.
Even better: make it easy for them to NOT call you. Put up as much online self-service help as you can for your customers with FAQs, how-to articles, and fixes to common problems. If they want to solve an issue late at night and you can make it easy for them to do so, you have kept them happy.
According to recent research from the CFI Research Group, “People just don’t want to have to call to get their issues resolved,” said Terry Redding, vice president of marketing and product development for CFI Group. “Sixty-six percent of customer service interactions are done on the phone. But it’s a shrinking majority: 54% still prefer to do business that way, while interest in other non-call channels is expanding rapidly. Nearly half of consumers would prefer to communicate via email, web self-service, or chat.
3. Monitor Social Channels Daily for Your Company Name, Your Industry Key Words, and Your Competitors
If you see a problem show up, you’ll obviously want to resolve it ASAP. But did you know that some of the best customer service happens when someone isn’t even your customer yet? Jay Baer says this era of Internet marketing is all about being useful. To that end, if you sell skateboards online and are monitoring the social conversation regarding skateboards, you might just be the one to solve that 6’4″ guy’s problem about where to buy a longer board. Instant customer.
In fact, if you are really good at social monitoring, you can watch people praising or complaining about a competitive offering and make a new friend. Solve the problem, offer a better deal, and you never know what may happen.
4. Give Your Best Customers The Spotlight
Do you sell a product that can be used where people experience greater fun, excitement, or success because of you? Gather those stories and interview your top customers. Make them the story on your web site and in your social channels. Other potential customers take in several data points before deciding to buy from you. Your highlighted customers will enjoy the fame and you can reap the rewards of someone else telling others that you are good at what you do.
5. Show Your Gratitude. Often.
It’s not just good manners to use your “Please”s and “Thank You”s. In a business, showing how appreciative you are of your customers can really go a long way. Use fun, happy conversational tones and set up systems that ensure your customers feel thanked and appreciated at every turn, after every purchase. Consider ending a sincere thank you with a special offer or free gift.
Remember, all the goodwill you’ve created in your business can be shattered by a negative customer interaction that is shared for the world to see. Prevent that from happening by showing customers love often and handling their issues quickly.