How to Generate Happy and Loyal Customers
Customer experience is by far one of the most telling metrics regarding whether or not a customer will return or not. Return customers are important because it costs less to keep a customer than it does to find another one. That’s why you want to create a series of products and services for your customers that keeps them in your product funnel.
But, you can actually have the best products or services in the world and still lose out on repeat customers and new referrals due to poor customer experiences. If a customer comes out of a purchase feeling cheated, or ignored or not happy, they’re not going to buy again – nor will they tell their friends anything positive. Some studies have shown that it takes something like twelve positives experiences to make up for one negative one.
Therefore, job one for your business is to generate loyal, happy customers. These customers will not just buy your products or use your services again and again; they’ll become raving fans that will recommend you freely and loudly to others who will end up doing the same thing. Having loyal, happy customers is the best marketing your money and time can buy.
While a happy customer often starts with the customer buying a product or service from you and being wowed by that product or service, it shouldn’t end there. It should continue with the follow up, and everything that happens to the customer after they make that purchase.
When customer service goes wrong, you’ll lose customers and revenue today and tomorrow – due to the loss of not only the customers you have today but also the customers you could have had in the future. It can be a snowball effect both ways. When the customer is happy, the snowball effect will be multitudes of new customers who also stick around. The converse will be fewer and fewer customers as you run through and disappoint the ones you have.
Since it always costs more to recover lost customers than acquire new ones, and much less to create repeat customers than acquire new ones, it just seems smart to focus on generating happy, loyal customers. The way to do that is through good customer service. If you’re not sure what that means, let’s look at different ways to make your customers happy.
13 Ways to Make Your Customers Happy
Happy customers mean repeat customers and new customers who will also become happy, repeat customers. Call them fans, call them advocates, or whatever you want to call them, but happy customers will not just use your services and call it a day – they’ll use them again and tell others about you. They’ll rave about you to other people and to you through social media comments, blog posts, and more.
If you want this to happen, it requires that you not only have a fabulous product or service but that you go even further.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open – Remember that communication is a two-way street. To truly communicate there has to be both a sender and a receiver of information. This means that communication is interaction and interactive. Use various means to communicate, from email to message boards to Facebook groups.
- Provide Over-the-Top Customer Service – Don’t just do the minimum to keep your customers happy; surprise them and give them a little extra. A good example would be that if your customer has a question about how to use your product, you can send them a personalized demo video showing them exactly how to use it. Don’t just send them to your help FAQ, admonishing them to check your help files first. Instead, tell them about the help files but, “in the meantime here’s a video to help you with your question.”
- Treat Your Staff and Contractors Well – A business is only as good as the help it gets. Remember that if you treat your staff and contractors poorly, word will get around. Not only that; they may not treat your customers as well as you wish. Pay them a fair wage or rate, and help them bring out the most in themselves by providing timely and helpful feedback. Plus, give them the tools they need to do the best for your customers.
- Offer Excellent Training to Employees – Without proper training regarding how you want your customers treated, employees will not know what to do. Set up policies that let employees make decisions on the spot, and keep updating the manual as new situations occur that were handled in a manner you feel works well for your customers.
- Keep Your Customers Informed about the Industry – If you truly want to be an industry leader and blow your competition out of the water, work on keeping your customers informed about your industry. You want to tell them about both the good and the bad. If things are changing in a way that will affect them, the more they know now the better. This is especially true when there are killer technologies coming to fruition that will dramatically change your business.
- Incentivize Your Customers – Anytime you have reason to communicate with your customers is an opportunity to incentivize them to buy more, tell others about you, and more. Offer ongoing support and specials and information at each opportunity that will help your customer get to know you better. Tell them about something new you offer, or send them to a good article, or tell them about a product someone else offers.
- Know Your Products and Services Backwards and Forwards – The better you understand your own products and services, the easier it will be to create companion products and services and help your customers. You should be able to discuss any product you offer in great detail and answer questions your customers have about them.
- Make Reliability Your Middle Name – Each time you follow up and do what you say you’ll will, your customers start respecting you more. When you follow through and stick to promises, it shows the customer how much your word means to you. You can start demonstrating this the moment a potential customer gets on your email list.
- Be Flexible – While you want to have policies and procedures, you must remember that customers are individuals. Be open to changing your policy when it’s needed, based on an individual customer’s needs. Don’t stand on procedure when you can turn things around and let the customer leave happy. Even if they won’t be a customer anymore, they’ll remember the good experience. More than likely, though, they’ll stay a customer and rave to friends about you.
- Make It Easy to Reach You – So many business owners today hide themselves behind technology, making it almost impossible to contact them. If you want your customers to feel happy and be loyal, make it easy for your customers to contact you. If you want to, you can give buying customers VIP treatment with a special contact number or email address that you answer faster than others.
- Personalize Your Communications – Whether on the phone or in email, always use your customers’ names during communication. Take personalization further by customizing solutions that will work for each individual customer. Sometimes an out-of-the-box solution works better than one that you planned.
- Show Respect for Your Customers’ Time – Always keep communication with your customers on point, whether it’s an email, a phone call, or any other type of communication. You don’t want to waste their time any more than you want them to waste yours.
- Listen First – One way to truly make your customers happy is to listen to them. Conduct surveys; use focus group, social media, communities, groups, email, web forms and every opportunity to learn about what your customers think and feel and need. Always listen first; they’ll tell you how to solve their problems.
Generating loyal, happy customers is really not that difficult to do. You simply have to know exactly who your customer is, build up their trust in you, understand your products and services completely, and use every avenue at your disposal to communicate your values to your customers – offering them solutions they really want and need.
How to Know Your Customer
The best way to please your customers is to know them. That means you need to know what they want and what they need. The only way you can know what they need is to study them and get to know them. Plus, you have to keep up with the times because even if your audience demographic stays the same in terms of age group, family status, education and so forth, the audience’s values still change.
Think about Dove, the soap company and how their advertisements have changed over the years. How they appeal to their customers has changed even though their product has mostly remained the same. In fact, some of their old commercials would offend their current audience. Make sure you’re keeping up with the times and not offending anyone with your approach due to lack of understanding and knowledge of your customers.
There are ways to know your customer better and of course it all starts with research.
- Conduct Continuous Research – Use all avenues to find out about your customer. Use industry research, magazines, books, social groups online and offline and your own email lists to study your customer. Send surveys, ask questions, answer questions and interact with your customers on a regular basis.
- Understand the Customer Life Cycle – Once someone buys from you they become your customer. It’s imperative that you understand the life cycle of your customer. What do they buy first? What do they buy last? What products and services could you offer in between to fill in the gaps? How long do they spend choosing which products to buy or which services to use?
- Look at Past Purchases – What your customers have purchased in the past is important, but what’s also important is how they purchased them. What channel did they use? Was it a sales page, an email you sent, or an email sent by an affiliate on your behalf? The way your customer buys things is as important as what they buy.
- Know How They Access Data – Understanding how your customers get their information too. How do they search for information? How do they decide whether or not the information is trustworthy? Understanding that about your audience will go far in helping you get to know your customer better.
- Use All Available Metrics – Your email autoresponder system, social media data, Google Analytics, sales page stats and more should all be gathered and studied so you can better understand how your audience acts and reacts.
- Do Not Ignore Social Data – It’s important to look especially close at social data today. How your customers interact with you on social media is important. Maybe they don’t interact much, maybe they only do when they’re angry, or maybe they sing your praises to the world on social media. All of this is important information to gather to help you please your customers even more and make them even happier.
- Identify Customer Triggers – A customer trigger could be a special life event for themselves, or it could be something you sent them as a reminder such as an abandoned cart notice. Use all of these avenues as a way to get to know your customer better. Note their special days; note how you can use those days to make them happy with a sale, a coupon or just a message of thanks.
- Switch It Up – Remember what we discussed earlier. Demographics stay the same for your customers if your product stays the same, but the customers’ values change over time. The things people think are good today will be bad tomorrow and vice versa. Always keep your ears to the ground regarding your customers’ values.
Knowing your customers, and continuing to know your customers is imperative if you want to be able to give them what they need and want in a way that makes them happy. Happy customers become loyal customers and they send you more of the same. It’s more than worth the extra work. It always pays off, but it all starts with gaining their trust.
Eight Ways to Gain Trust
In order to create happy, loyal customers you will need to gain their trust. Once customers trust you, even if you make a minor mistake, they’ll still respect you and want to work with you. After all, no one is perfect. It’s how you handle the adversarial issues that happen that will create trust.
- Communicate Changes Immediately to Customers – People don’t like surprises, so the moment you know a change is imminent it’s important to share that with your customers. Even if the change is weeks away, you want to prepare them for what is to come. Make them excited about the change and the opportunities it offers them.
- Stay Up to Date on Industry News and Share – Showing that you are up to date on industry news and that you keep involved with what is going on within your niche will help your customers know that you’re staying informed for their sakes. Sharing what you know, and giving them information about how you feel about what you know and whether it affects them or not, will help elicit trust.
- Be Honest If You’ve Screwed Up – Everyone makes a mistake and when you do, or even if a customer just thinks you did, the most important thing you can do is take responsibility for it and fix it as best you can. Transparency is important; if you explain to your customer how you came up with a solution and why, they’ll respect that.
- Allow Feedback from Customers about Changes – The best thing you can do is get feedback from customers about changes and solutions that you offer them. Always follow up with every customer about every problem or even every note of gratitude. Ask them what they think. Offer a survey that is short and to the point so you can best judge whether or not they’re satisfied with a single action or not.
- Be Reliable – When you follow through on promises, your customers get used to the fact that you are reliable. The only way to prove reliability is to demonstrate it through your actions. The more you can follow up doing what you say you’ll do, plus a little, the more opportunities you have to prove you’re reliable.
- Under Promise and Over Deliver – It can’t be said enough but if you blow too much smoke and then don’t deliver on your promises, your audience and customers will revolt. The best way to make them happy is to give them even more than they expect or even realize that they need. You want to WOW them and make them come back for more.
- The Customer Is Always Right – You probably hate this saying, but it’s really true. But, you need to differentiate between customers and freebie seekers. If you’ve done your job well, you’ll be able to tell and offer true customers what they need to stay happy. A real customer will tell you what the solution is if you listen.
- Thank Your Customers – Always follow up and thank your customers. So many businesses offer special deals to potential new customers when they should be offering specials to customers who are showing their loyalty. Have at least one customer appreciation day, because it’s all about how you make the customer feel. Their experience will determine their happiness.
Customer experience is far more important than almost any aspect of your business. Yes, you need an amazing product or service, but the follow up is what keeps them coming back and telling their friends about you. Developing trust is one of the most important aspects of providing good customer service and making customers happy. Awesome customer care is personal and individualized, and puts the customer in the driver’s seat. That is how you truly generate loyal, happy customers.
Understand and Know Your Products and Services Inside Out
Since you created the products and services you should know them, right? That may not always be a true statement. The fact is, it can be hard to separate yourself from your products or services enough to understand the customers’ experience of them. So, that’s where you need to develop an understanding – from the customers’ perspective.
Understanding your products and services from the customers’ perspective will help you create better content that explains your products and services to them through your FAQ, blog posts, articles, and other information that you put on your website and in social media campaigns. If you can’t answer what, why, when, who and how a person uses your products and services, it will be difficult to create all that in a meaningful way.
In fact, it can be said that product knowledge is the entire beginning of all client interactions. If you don’t know your products or services well enough to explain them to potential customers and customers, then they’ll start to question whether you’re the right person to get them from.
Therefore, being able to communicate your knowledge in a way that resonates with your customer is imperative. Keep these two things in mind as you work through this:
- Benefits over Features – While you should most definitely be able to explain all the features of your products, you should do so in a way that puts benefits over features. In other words, you should be able to explain the main advantage of each feature to your customers. If you can’t explain to them how your product can improve their situation and solve their pain points, you need to work on that harder.
- Sync Products / Services with Customer Needs – In a crystal clear way you should be able to easily match up each of your products or services with a particular pain point your customer has. When you can do that, explaining what you offer becomes rather simple. When the customer questions anything, you’ll have an answer that resonates.
When you keep those two things in mind you’ll be able to create better product information FAQs, blog posts, and even deliver a better product in the first place that answers your customers’ needs in a real way. Plus, you’ll end up getting the right prospects to purchase your products and services, and who will be thrilled with them from the start.
This is because you’re attracting the right people and customers in the first place rather than chasing after people who have no interest, or getting the wrong customer to buy – thus having them not be satisfied because the product doesn’t do what they thought it would. Therefore, just by knowing and understanding your products inside and out, you’re also pleasing your customer by selling only to qualified candidates who truly need your product or service in the first place.
How to Communicate Your Value to Your Customers
While you do want to be able to discuss benefits with each feature, you also need to be able to explain the features of your business. You can use these features to explain your worth. Most people, when they are determining the value of something, care about experience. If the customer has very little experience in making a decision regarding this product or service, you need to have enough knowledge to explain it to them.
To communicate your value best, you’ll need to be able to:
- Understand What Your Customers Value – What makes them tick? What problems and concerns do they need answered and solved? Outside of product, what makes your customers happy? Family? Church? Volunteering? Gaming? Relationships? Marriage? Freedom? Money? If you can identify these intrinsic values you’ll be able to communicate with your customers in a way that they understand and identify with so much that even if a problem develops (which it’s less likely to), you’ll be able to work it out in a way that makes your customer happy.
- Be Able to Quantify the Attributes of Your Products Successfully – Your product of course has features, and each feature offers a specific benefit to the customer. Can you put a number or price on these benefits in a way that communicates the value, at least in your mind? Perhaps the word is “priceless” when it comes to benefits like “more time with children” or “freedom to explore” and so forth – but if you can put a value on it, you’ll be able to communicate it more clearly to your customer.
- Explain to Customers Why You – Customers usually want this question answered prior to becoming a customer, but it doesn’t hurt to keep answering this question later. Keeping a customer longer translates into more sales, more money, and a higher customer lifetime value. Keep your customers wowed by your products, services and customer care, so they know that the answer as to “why you” is of course “because it’s you.”
Once you work through this process, you’ll come back with a demonstrable value determination that you can feel good about and your customers will feel good about. Customers are willing to pay more when they feel like they’re getting more. If they’re getting more of you through fabulous customer care and follow up, they’ll instinctively realize that the value you’re offering is over the top and there is no contest between you and the competition.
Critiquing Your Presentation
Finally, once you understand that customer happiness is related to loyalty and the factors that develop these qualities in your customer, and now you know how all that works together, it’s time to double check your processes from A to Z to see how you stack up.
Everything you do or don’t do, from your website to social media and follow-up emails to your customers, is part of your presentation to your customers. How does your presentation stack up?
Go through your website as if you’ve the consumer. Can you find all the information that you need to make a buying decision? If not, is it easy to get questions answered through an FAQ or through a forum, or is there some way to ask a question and get it answered as soon as possible?
During this process, do you notice if the website loads fast or slow? If the site takes forever to work, you’re going to lose people before they even become customers. And if they do become customers in spite of the slow website and have a problem later that they need an answer to, they’ll become frustrated.
Is the website easy to read? Do the colors impart the mood you want your customer to feel as they shop? You can actually study your current audience to find out what their favorite colors are, and the type of websites they prefer to use. But, in general you want to have a good ratio of white space to text space, beautiful images when appropriate, and fonts that adjust for the audience to read in the manner they want to read.
Your website also absolutely must be mobile ready today. People access websites and use them from a variety of different devices these days, and you want them to work seamlessly regardless of which device is being used. Avoid using Flash and other add-ons that don’t work on mobile devices.
Ensure that you’ve customized your “404 Error” page in a way that lessens the blow when a page is not found. Plus, remember to include vivid descriptions of images, and use search terms and tags appropriately. If you need to learn about SEO, teach yourself what you need to know because this is super important for your website.
It’s also important that when your customers are on your website they know that they are, through your logo or other identifying elements. This should cross through in all your other online marketing collateral too. Plus, you need to offer a clear path to the information that your customers need depending on where they are in the buying cycle – including how to get in touch with you and get questions answered. The days of being anonymous on the net are over. You need to be available for communication and have a variety of ways open for it.
While everything begins and ends with your website, social media plays an important role in not only attracting customers but also in keeping them happy. If you’re being interactive and inclusive on social media, your customers will notice.
It’s all about being accessible and open with your customers. Answering questions on social media publically shows that you have nothing to hide. Transparency is more important today than ever. Nothing is really private anymore. People are watching how you handle controversy, if any should arise; show them your professionalism and care.
Like your website, the social media networks in which you participate should automatically be identifiable to your customers. They should know where and how to find you; and when they do find you it’s important that you look familiar with the same logos, images, and tag lines. You can change up things a bit to keep it current for a particular social media, but they should know it’s you right away.
Determine if you’re using your social media well on all points. Do you use it to get the information out to customers on a regular basis? Are you sending out relevant information or is it useless? You want to guard against sending out information that has nothing to do with your business or that you can’t tie into your business in some way. Sharing pictures of cats seems fun but it’s not the point of social media – unless you sell something related to cats or can relate the product or service you’re promoting to cats.
Are you interacting enough with people on social media? If you’re not answering every relevant question asked on any particular social media, then you’re not using social media fully. You probably can’t be everywhere at all times, so determine which social media networks will work best for your needs. If your customers are using that social media, though, you need to be as well.
If this was in the right order of importance it would be website, email follow-up, social media, email follow-up, product purchase, email follow-up. Yes, the follow-up has to happen after every interaction. Everything you do should lead to getting the person on your email list in the right category so they’ll receive the right emails.
When someone signs up for your list they should get a thank you immediately. It’s important to know whether they signed up due to buying a product or they signed up due to downloading a lead magnet, or they signed up just because they wanted to stay informed, because it will determine which messages they receive.
Check your autoresponders to ensure that they are up to date for each list that you have. You should have several lists based on the behavior of your customers. For example, a customer who purchased your entry level product A will receive emails designed to thank them, teach them, and inform them how to best use that product but will also encourage them to buy the next in line – product B. A follow-up for someone who downloaded the freebie will be designed to help them implement the freebie, but also to purchase entry level product A.
As a consumer moves through the product funnel, they’re removed and added to other lists so that they don’t get frustrated by receiving sales messages for items they already own. Once your customer has purchased all your products, they can be put on a more general list that allows you to promote other people’s products, which will further extend their customer life cycle. Plus, you can use that list to incentivize them to recommend you to others.
Follow-up emails and thank you emails should never exist in the singular. They say it takes at least seven follow-ups to get most of your audiences’ attention, and with each subsequent email you raise the chances your customer will buy from you again. So, it’s more than just checking up; it needs to be a well-planned and orchestrated series that leads customers down a certain path. Whether it’s designed to collect feedback from your customers to help make your product better, or informing them about the next product in your product funnel, email follow-ups are imperative to the future of your business as well as the happiness of your customer.
One of the most important aspects of customer relationships is communication – not just how you communicate but where you communicate. You can communicate via email with your customers either one way or two ways. It is recommended that all email messages keep two-way communications open.
The advent of “no reply” emails can cause a problem in keeping trust of your customers. If you’re going to email them, they should be able to reply to it and get a response if they ask a question. So ditch the “no reply” email option. Let them reply and check your email often so that you can answer.
One-way social media takes the meaning of social to a direction that you should avoid. You want all your social media interactions to be first and foremost social. Communication is a two-way street and if your customers feel as if you’re just preaching to them and never responding, liking, sharing or interacting with them at all, they’ll start to ignore you like they do the display ads on websites.
The basic thing to remember about communication that will help you is that it’s two way. If it’s not happening both ways, it’s not communication.
Generating loyal, happy customers is a process that starts with knowing who your ideal customer is, creating products and services especially for them, and then following up in a manner that resonates with your customer and ensures that they understand the value you create in their life.