In the increasingly competitive growing marketplace, companies of all kinds and sizes are trying harder than ever before to make themselves standout. From flashy online ad campaigns to blitzing social media to pulling crazy PR stunts, organizations will seemingly go to almost any lengths to get ahead of their competitors. But beyond the hype, there is a simple way to enhance your business: make and keep your customers happy. Here are 10 ways to make this happen.
► Understand Your Customer’s Personality Type
While you probably wish you could give each of your customers a personality test – and who doesn’t love taking the Myers-Briggs? – the reality is you cannot. Instead, you need to start communicating with them the way that they want to be communicated with. Some are OK with texts and emails, while others prefer phone calls or in person meetings. Here are a few guidelines:
The Pleaser: This customer is afraid to tell you no. Set firm agreements with them through open and honest communication. A non-answer is the worst type of answer in sales. Sometimes you may need to push this customer to ‘no’.
The Reserved Customer: Typically won’t share feedback without being directly asked and even then, you may not get much. With this customer, you have to dig deep to get to the bottom of what the true issue is.
The Aggressive Customer: Will tell you exactly what is on their mind. Be firm, direct, and polite. Do not try to counter with being aggressive.
The Complainer: Be prepared for a lot of contact with this customer. Demonstrate patience and they will become your biggest advocate.
These are all typically the outliers. Most customer engagements are fair and typical conversations are uneventful. That being said, if you come across one of the above folks, think about how they would like to be communicated with and how you can meet such expectations.
► Accept Responsibility for Any Issues that Arise
I learned one of my favorite quotes at…wait for it…the Disney Institute: “While it may not be our fault, it is our problem.” In their example, a four-year-old girl was excited to meet Belle at the Magic Kingdom. She had planned for months to wear her yellow dress for this momentous occasion. Unfortunately, her bag got lost on the flight and she didn’t have her favorite dress to wear. While this was not Disney’s fault they accepted it as their problem and brought her a a new dress. Then they arranged a private breakfast with Belle. This type of customer service turned a terrible experience, not caused by Disney, into a very positive outcome for a little girl who was devastated one minute and delighted the next.
► Treat People Like People
Lose the sales pitch. Once you stop treating people like people, you lose all relevance. What comes soon after is even worse: losing customers.
► Map All Your Customer Touch Points
Look at every single touch point you have with customers and place a green date for “good,” yellow date for “average,” and red dot for “needs work” on each one. Remember that touch points are not just personal interactions. For us at Shamrock, often our website is our first customer touch point. It could also be emails, web searches, support calls, your main phone line, etc.
► Be Responsive
I have read statistics that state if you respond to a customer request within the first minute, you are 300 times more likely to win that deal. While not every touch point is as dramatic as winning or losing a deal, each one is critically important. If you don’t know the answer, state that honestly and set a proper expectation on when you will get back to the customer with that answer.
► Verify Resolutions
Have you ever submitted a question to a company and got silence in return? It is extremely frustrating! You have no clue where your question or issue is in the process and even more frustratingly, no clue if there’s even a chance of it being resolved. So you don’t leave your customers hanging, end each dialogue with a question like, “Is there anything else we can do to help?” or Do you have any other unanswered questions?”
► Understand your Customer’s Business
Make an effort to understand your customer’s processes and pain points. Finding surface level pain is important but understanding the personal level discomfort that issues cause is the difference maker. For example, surface level pain for an AP automation solution is that it takes four weeks to process an invoice. Personal pain, in this instance, could be that the same staff member missing their child’s baseball game because they have to stay late at the end of each month to process invoices. If you can solve personal pain, you will have a happy customer and a friend.
► Accept Positive Feedback but Dig for Ways to Improve
Make sure your customers understand that without their open and honest evaluation, your company cannot grow and improve. Help them understand that their critical feedback is the most important feedback you can receive. It allows companies to coach their employees and further develop their careers and skillsets. Never ask for a perfect score to boost your overall support or customer ratings. You can ALWAYS get better. Allow your customers to help.
► Be Knowledgeable
Take pride in what you do. Continually strive to increase mastery of your skill set, your product/solution offerings and your industry. Make sure you keep communication channels with other departments in your company open so you can seek expert feedback and learn from the pro’s in other business areas.
► Your Customers’ Success = Your Company’s Success
Make everything you do about the customer, not about your personal goals. When you solve their problems, alleviate their organizational and personal-level pain points and give them next-level service, you create long-term loyalty. You’ll also find that happy customers will tell others in their industry about how well you treat them, and will be willing references for your sales and marketing departments. Happy customers aren’t just important to your business. They ARE your business.
-Tyler Groepper, Vice President of Sales at Shamrock Solutions