4. Become better than the day before.
Customers don’t expect small businesses to be perfect, but they’re hoping that you’ll make a conscious effort to be better than you were yesterday. Customer service, or a lack thereof, is a major pain point for customers. The 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer indicates that many companies are increasingly failing to live up to customers’ ‘high’ service expectations.
The study revealed that “more than nine out of ten Americans surveyed (93 percent) say companies fail to exceed their service expectations… [Also] more than half of all survey respondents (55 percent) said they had walked away from an intended purchase in the past year because they had a poor customer service experience,” according to SCORE.
Making small efforts on a daily basis can go a long way towards finding and retaining the best customers. Not sure where to start, ask customers to review your company immediately following the sale – preferably via email. While it’s still fresh in their minds, let them know that you’re committed to meeting their ‘realistic’ expectations.
5. Go out of your way.
Customers feel valued when they know you’ve taken extra time to understand their needs and meet them. This small change in perception can be communicated and accepted through the value sharing process. For example, do you run an online business that offers great shipping options? If so, communicate it.
Having your customer service reps communicate the added value that you’ve already built into your cost-center goes a long way. For instance, saying something like “Today we’d like to upgrade your shipment to Priority Mail at no additional cost, as an added convenience to you.”
Sure it may be something that you already offer but be sure to communicate it. This simple statement can make customers feel they’re special and that you’ve gone out of your way to make their shopping experience enjoyable.
What customers want is companies that bend the rules (or at least appear to). Elaine Pofeldt, recollected a few experiences where, “an employee went out of his or her way to help me (albeit, in the case of the bank, at the point where I was contemplating closing all of my accounts). These workers weren’t following a canned script. They were thinking like owners of the company who wanted to keep my business. They treated me the way they would want to be treated, even if it meant ignoring the official company rule book.”
Learning what customers really think about your marketing messages, engagement, communication style, relationships and loyalty can go a long way in business. Knowing what drives customer purchase decisions can mean the difference between a sustainable, profitable small business and one that can’t seem to make anything truly work.
Connect with Erica Nicole on Twitter @yfsericanicole.
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