A good word of mouth reputation is critical when you’re just starting a new business or growing an existing one. Satisfied customers are your invisible sales force.
Consider these questions:
- What relationship do you have with your customers?
- Do they purchase from you in a transactional way and then never hear from you again?
- Do you give them more than they were expecting?
- Do you agree together what they should purchase and ensure it delivers what they are looking for?
- Do you work in partnership, almost as if you are an integral part of their life or business?
If you are not at stage 4 then there is some room for improvement.
Unless you have a product or service where there is zero competition, others can quickly swoop in and take your customers by building loyalty and developing a partnership relationship with them.
When you have a close knit relationship with your customers, they don’t want to go elsewhere, they recommend you on, you know your customers well and so develop products and services that are right for them, you can spend less time chasing new customers and instead nurture the ones you have to become an invisible sales force you.
Think of your last six purchases of products or services. I am sure at least one of them came because a friend or colleague had recommended it. Word of mouth is extremely powerful and can make or break your business.
So how can you add extra value, build relationships and turn your customers into raving fans who sell for you? Here are my four top tips:
Understand their expectations
Take time in the first place to understand what the client wants. It may be that in the end you refer them on to someone else if you don’t have what they want, but that’s better than them being dissatisfied in the long term. They’ll come back to you when they need what you have, or tell others if they’ve had a good experience and you’ve shown integrity.
Make it personal
After a recent purchase of some skin cream, I received a handwritten note from the store thanking me for the purchase and looking forward to welcoming me again, so of course I told my friends – spreading awareness of their brand. Personal messages with the client’s name, a birthday gift, or an understanding of their preference really makes a difference and often takes so little time.
Give a little extra
If you provide a service, call the client a few days later to check that everything is OK. Show that you care beyond making the sale. Additional extras that the customer wasn’t expecting will really wow them, you may not even have to pay for them if you find a collaborator who wants to reach your target market.
Make it two-way
Think about what you give to your customer over the medium term. Maybe you could help promote their business, provide them with tips, vouchers, whatever will make their life or business thrive in the same way they are doing for you.
What’s your first step to customer excellence?