Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. – Steve Jobs
Whether you’re a small business owner or a customer, you probably want to give and receive great customer service. One of my recent experiences with amazing customer service illustrated exactly what business owners can do to leave a lasting positive impression in the minds of your customers, increase sales and get better reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp.
The backstory here is that I’d hemmed and hawed over a glass straw at a trade show a while back. I didn’t make the purchase then, but months later I decided that this was indeed something I’d like for those times when a straw is nice and using something renewable is even better.
I found an ecommerce website that listed many different straws from the company I’d seen at the trade show. I wasn’t sure which one was best suited to my needs, so I contacted the business owner with a couple of questions. She responded almost immediately and also directed me to the right website where I saved a few dollars on my purchase – still good for her, even better for me! I picked up my order shortly after that and was pleased to find a personal message of thanks from the owner inside the packaging.
Here’s how this business owner provided exceptional customer service and what you can do to get happy customers and boost your online ratings:
- Have a quick response time for questions
This doesn’t necessarily mean making yourself available to answer questions 24/7. If you’re a small business owner, that might not be feasible. But, you can create an automatic reply message that lets customers know when you will get back to them, such as within 48 hours or by the next business day. Depending on your business model, you might also want to integrate text or Facebook messaging into your communication streams to connect with customers promptly and in the most direct and convenient manner.
- Use different communication tools
I received an email as well as a Facebook message after making my purchase. While this could seem like overkill at first blush, it gave me another way to communicate with the company, which I personally appreciated. Facebook messages won’t work for every organization in every situation, but, when used correctly, they can connect your customers to your Facebook account where your customers can learn more about your business and like your page.
- Provide helpful information
The company owner certainly helped me out by directing me to a website where I saved money on my purchase. Similar to a value-added proposition, helpful information amplifies the perceived value of your product or service and also shows your customers that you care. Another approach could be to suggest accessory products to a customer that compliment their order, such as a scrub brush for their new glass straw or a recipe for a seasonal drink that pairs well with the type of straw they bought.
- Have a positive and solutions-focused approach
All communications with me were done using positive language that moved me along the buying process and helped me make my purchase decision. The owner anticipated my needs, such as inquiring whether I was using the right website to place my order and asking me follow-up questions to make sure she fully got my meaning. By giving me the information I needed when I needed it, the company owner was developing a rapport with me, her customer. This kind of rapport-building increases trust and brand loyalty, which can translate into repeat customers, referrals for your product or service and positive reviews on Yelp, Amazon and/or your organization’s website.
- Keep customers informed
Ordering something online still comes with a degree of uncertainty and stress for some customers who might worry about sharing credit card and personal information. It’s important to keep your customers well-informed every step of the way along their purchase decision journey: from having an up-to-date contact page on your website to clearly outlining shipping costs and shipment tracking information. Using ecommerce services, such as PayPal and Shopify, can save you time and energy, and can keep your customers informed about the status of their order and confident that their personal information is safe.
- Make it special with great brand design
I still get excited whenever I receive a package in the mail. It reminds me of Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions when I can expect to receive a gift the old fashioned snail mail way. I don’t want ugly packaging or lots of off-white and crumbling foam peanuts to kill the fantasy that I’m receiving something special just for me (even it’s also from me). The straw company did it right by using simple but attractive and well-branded packaging for their product (see photos). It was like Christmas came early. The care they took in packaging my new toy also reflected their overall attention to detail and exceptional customer service.
- Add a personal touch
The icing on the cake came in the form of a personalized thank-you note that I received with my purchase. I was impressed by the time the company took to make me feel like a valued customer, but, even more so, this personal touch solidified in my mind that this is a company that cares. Again, this approach might not work for every business in every situation, but there is something to be said for the power of saying thank you to customers in whatever way you can. You never know where this extra gesture of thanks could lead, such as an amazing review on your website, along with referrals and repeat business.
I was impressed throughout my experience with the glass straw company by how much time the owner took to help me with my purchase. It made me feel good that I chose her products over someone else’s. It also gave me valuable insights into the power of how good customer care can lead to even greater returns for businesses. After all, as a result of her exceptional attention to customer care, I wrote a glowing review for their company and this blog post. It just goes to show that small gestures that help make customers feel valued can go a long way for business owners.
Stay tuned for my next blog post about how to transform goodwill from customers into additional business…