Every business has customers, though you may refer to yours as clients or patients. Business owners have known forever that being nice to customers tends to increase sales and repeat business. But the concept of customer service has evolved over time and now “customer experience” has taken on a new, broader meaning.
In the old days, customers hoped you’d be nice to them. Today, they expect a comprehensively wonderful, personalized experience when doing business with you. Customers of old were disappointed if they weren’t treated nicely. Customers today will cross you off their list permanently if they don’t get what they want.
It’s still nice to be nice. So how can you truly delight your customers, clients or patients?
Are you friendly, approachable? Do you listen to your customers as they tell you what they want? Are you overtly helpful or just trying to make a sale? Attitude starts at your front door – or with your phone, your website and social media pages. Visuals and tone of voice make a first impression that cannot be erased. Does your business look and sound delightful?
Your authority and reputation.
No one wants to do business with a second-rate store, restaurant, pool service or dentist. Sharing your knowledge, insight and advice via your blog, website and email marketing – and in person – builds trust and confidence. Prospects and existing customers know they can rely on you for quality.
Whether it’s Saturday hours at your dental practice, free clinics for sports enthusiasts or salon patrons, etc., people can see you’re going out of your way for them. People are especially excited about local businesses that go out of their way to benefit the community, so why not ask your customers which community or holiday project you should support this year with volunteer hours or free professional work? You’ll delight them by asking, and delight them again when you and/or your staff follow through.
In fact asking customers for their advice on other aspects of your business – which new menu items to keep permanently, what magazines to put in your waiting room, what new amenities or products you should offer – is a superior marketing technique, for additional reasons. You can get pertinent advice to grow your business, and in the process you are directly personalizing customer engagement.
Know who they are, and stay in touch.
A custom-tailored experience starts with your initial marketing – something as simple (but effective) as thoughtfully targeting your postcard mailings – and extends to lead nurturing with targeted follow-up and ongoing after-sale communication.
Customers, clients and patients do not care what you’re doing for others, they want to see you are doing something for them. Something meaningful to them. In this day of extravagant data availability and analytics, there is no excuse for not personalizing in ways that make sense for your business.
Do you have a customer loyalty program? This is one of the best ways to delight customers, especially if your program’s rewards are easily attainable and worth receiving. Don’t forget to reward patients or clients for referrals as well as spending.
For some reason this extremely simple tactic is vastly underused by businesses. “Have a nice day,” coming from a staffer who doesn’t even smile (you can hear that non-smile over the phone as well as in person) is less than insincere. “Thanks for shopping with us today” – or “being our client/patient” – will stop customers in their tracks. You’ll delight them, and they will remember that and tell friends online and off.
You would be out of business without customers, clients, or patients. The more you do to overtly cater to their wants and needs and develop relationships with them as individuals, the more likely you will be to continue growing your clientele, reputation and profitability.