Customers are not crucial to your business, they are the business! Finding them, acquiring them, keeping them, and inspiring them are the most important elements of building a business. Your success or lack thereof – in this area – plays a vital role in the long term growth of your business.
A quick story: In February, I made a decision to consult a skincare brand via Instagram in order to get rid of some skin problem. Having made inquiries, I was provided a range of skincare products to help solve the issue. Initially, I hesitated and then a few months later, I returned to purchase the products. A few days into using the products, I discovered a terrible reaction. I was distraught. The products did the exact opposite. Quickly, I contacted the skincare brand, and this was when I realized they lacked empathy and knew nothing of how to calm a customer.
To say the least, the brand only offered an apology and advised I bought some more products, at my own cost, which will reverse the reaction. Indirectly, they told me they were a product-centric brand. I never went back there.
Like every other business, the number one goal is making sales and profits. However, there’s a need for us to take a step back to maximize the benefits of being a customer-centric brand. Here’s how:
Be A Problem Solver
When you have a customer with a problem or complaint, it is an opportunity to turn them into loyal customers. All you have to do is resolve the issue quickly as opposed to employing only a ‘sorry’ strategy.
Yes, start with a genuine apology, however, it is important to listen and figure out the situation in order to take the right measures. Offer a compensation, discount or something where the errors are noted as yours. Try to put yourself in their shoes and go above and beyond to show your deepest concern for their troubles.
Back to my story. Having laid my complaints to the skincare brand, I had expected a quick resolution. Sadly, I was advised to purchase more products at my own cost. Ridiculous, right? Eventually, I was compelled to teach them on how resolving a customer’s complaint with an actionable plan is the first stage of a customer retention strategy.
Deliver Top Notch Services
Giving your customers the best experience every time they have a transaction with you should be a priority. Your customers may forgive a poor product, but would never tolerate a bad service.
The world is now a global village. Gone are the days when a customer receives a poor product and, feels terrible about their experience and keep it to themselves. Now, they resort to calling out your brand online. Armed with their gadgets and the internet, they tell the world about your brand’s incompetence. Truth is, sometimes your products might not serve its purpose and services may not meet customer expectations, but that excellent personal service will speak for your brand.
Being a customer-centric brand is about making your customers feel special and welcome, and guess what? Customers appreciate such gesture. Regardless of how much your product or service cost, they will be willing to pay for it. That’s 101 of customer loyalty.
Get Close and Personal
Customers are not robots, they are human beings like yourself with personalities and emotions. Instead of only making attempts to push one product or the other to them, use the opportunity to ask about how they are doing and how well your products served its purpose.
Send them messages asking about their experience and how they are navigating through this pandemic. The world has become complex and uncertain over the past few months and the brands that will survive are those that recognize empathy as the most powerful currency.
Here is an example of how to get to know your customers better:
‘Hello, Mark. How’re you doing? We are glad you stopped by at our restaurant for some of our specially made natural juices. We hope enjoyed the pineapple & banana flavour. We care about you and as a business, we would like to know how you are faring at these times. We realize that the world is going through a difficult phase and we want you to know we are all in this together. We’ll also always be here to serve you whenever you need a refreshing drink’.
Thank your customers
Saying ‘thank you’ is a simple customer retention technique that many brands fail to deploy. Sam Adeyemi once said, “saying ‘thank you’ has value and it shows you value humans”. In other words, it shows you value your customers.
If an extra item or a freebie cannot be added to your customer’s item, a simple customized ‘thank you note’ or message will go a long way to warm the hearts of your customers. I remember a friend dropping a thank you note into a client’s item and few minutes after the item was received, she received a text message from her customer, highlighting how beautiful her handwriting was. How cool?
If you offer intangible services, draft that appreciation text message or email with a human to human touch. Use witty emojis that personally convey your voice and tone. Surprisingly, financial institutions like banks are adopting witty tones to let their customers know they are just like them and they appreciate them. Gone are the days when they sounded monotonous.
There are hundreds of businesses offering the same service as you. The marketplace is overly saturated with different brands setting smart marketing goals to capture new and existing consumers.
The question is: what strategies are you adjusting to meet the evolving needs of your customers? How far are you willing to cultivate and retain customers?
One key distinction between a product-centric and a customer-centric brand is that the former is organized to push products and brands, whereas the latter is designed to serve customers.
If there’s one thing you should leave with, it is that service to customers results in business stability and sustainable growth.