The first impression is sometimes the only impression a customer experiences. That’s why top-quality customer service is imperative, especially when consumers can easily broadcast their opinions through word of mouth, social media, and online rating sites.
To build your customer base and keep it strong, you must do all you can to achieve rave reviews. Here are five techniques to build a solid relationship with your customers and keep them coming back.
- Communicate. Key to any good relationship, communication is also true with customer service. Maintain an employee policy requiring timely follow-up to make sure the customer’s needs were met. Make sure your staff returns voice mail messages and email inquiries promptly. And as ambassadors of your business, encourage employees to answer the phone with a smile.
- Exceed expectations. To put it simply, under-promise and over-deliver. When you deliver earlier than expected, the customer will be happy for the nice surprise. For example, tell a customer their order will be ready by the end of October, knowing you will have it ready a week earlier.
- Ask for feedback. Whether they have a good or bad opinion about your business, customers will make their feelings known. Invite customer feedback to show you are listening. Place comment cards on your business counter or conduct a survey. Always listen carefully to comments and respond promptly, whether it’s a compliment or a complaint. The worst thing you can do is ask for feedback, but then not address concerns. Even negative feedback is valuable, and can give you an honest gauge of customer satisfaction.
- Connect. With technology, there are now even more ways to begin a conversation with your customers. Take full advantage of email and social media. Make sure your website is top-notch, and start a blog to engage your customers and prospects.
- Show appreciation. Start a customer incentive program for referrals by offering a discount on a future purchase. Reward long-time customers with a loyalty discount program. And, give away inexpensive branded items such as pens or notepads. It’s a small but effective way to say “thank you” to customers while keeping your business name top-of-mind.
This article is provided by Patriot Software, Inc., a developer of online software for U.S. small businesses, including online payroll software, applicant tracking software, human resources software, an employee portal, and 1099 software. Patriot Software also offers a payroll tax filing service for payroll customers, and is currently developing bookkeeping software and a website builder. For more information, visit www.PatriotSoftware.com.