Most mornings I buy my coffee from the same beachside café. While I order the same coffee every morning, the waiters never remember my order nor do they show me any hint of recognition.
In contrast, in The Strand next to my city office, my local coffee shop greets me by name, brings me my same old order as I sit down and asks me how my children and team are by name.
You can imagine which experience I prefer and where my loyalty lies.
Which one is your business?
The ideal outcome on any client relationship is a lifetime of custom, repeat business and/or referrals, so the least you can do is make sure every customer leaves with a positive outlook of you, your team and your business.
Customer relationships may be fleeting or long and involved but either way you want to leave them with a positive experience from the very get go.
With that in mind here are six steps that will help create loyal customers.
Step 1. Hire the Right People
The all-important first impression. In life both personal and professional, it’s all about first impressions. From eye contact, to the way you dress, your smile, to how prepared you are and the welcome you represent. Put the right people in front of your clients as a first point of contact AND thereafter. If you spend time and effort choosing your ambassadors and representatives, then spend time to teach your staff to interact with people with appropriate presentation, respect and positivity. By getting it right from the outset, you all demonstrate the respect and enthusiasm to bring people back.
Step 2. Ask them the hard questions
The difference between a good first impression and an excellent one usually comes with preparation and planning. By planning ahead and researching and (yes) remembering your customers’ requirements, you can demonstrate a commitment that goes beyond normal expectations. Try and pre-empt what your customer needs before they know it, show you have insight into their operations and behaviour and ask specific and interested questions. Not only will your brand stick in their minds, but you may find out new ways of improving your service from the interaction.
Step 3. Personalise each experience
People remember people so it helps if your customers receive a personalised and tailored experience. When a client first meets your team, gauge their personalities and choose a representative that matches them. No matter what industry you are in, people always appreciate it when you show a commitment to them as individuals. I always try to find out what keeps each customer awake at night – if you know what pressures they face, you can offer timely and relevant help.
Step 4. It is all about touchpoints
Devise a touchpoint program to communicate with customers regularly for a legitimate reason. Multiple points of contact, or touchpoints as I like to call them, help manage and maintain the relationship through a mix of communication methods such as telephone calls, social media, face-to-face meetings, emails or newsletters or event invitations and even surprises!
Step 5. Find the Right Fit
Be sure of your target audiences and who you can help best and choose customers carefully. Not everyone is an ideal fit for you, your team, your offering and your company and vice-versa. The chemistry and aligned core values are better to be right from the outset and the care and authenticity to ensure the fit is right is priceless. You are your brand, but not everyone is a buyer!
Step 6. Be clear about expectations and then exceed them
By listening well and reverse briefing on expectations, try and take every opportunity to add value wherever possible. By taking your client through a personalised process, you assemble a collection of memories they can draw upon. It’s hard work, it takes energy and dedication, but if you pull it off it can lead to long term alliances and some of the most memorable experiences in your career.
About the author:
Sharon Williams is a pioneer in the Australian marketing and PR industry. She is a CEO, Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor. Under Sharon’s leadership and entrepreneurial flair, Taurus is now recognised as one of Australia’s highest profile agencies, offering unparalleled levels of service to global corporations including Advance, UTS:INSEARCH, Appster, Napoleon Perdis and Clean Up Australia.