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Client success - 9 min READ

Win over a happy customer for strong loyalty

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Author photo: Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee

Customer Enablement Manager

A happy customer isn’t just someone who makes a purchase with you today. A truly happy customer is one who will be loyal to you and your business for a long time to come.

Plus, customer loyalty and happiness have a tendency to spread. When people find businesses they trust, they want to tell their friends about it too. (Could be out of generosity or pride, but hey, who’s keeping score?)

On the other hand, if you continually fail to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations, don’t be surprised if word spreads even faster. Misery loves company!

Just look through your social media feed. You’re likely to find at least one person today who’s complained about a bad experience they had dining out, asked for recommendations for a real estate agent to replace the one they don’t like, or joked about how an appliance keeps failing:

You can’t afford to give your customers a reason to be unhappy with you. It’s not just their business you stand to lose. It’s everyone else’s who hears about it, too.

So, what exactly can you do to keep your customers happy? (Instead of walking away without a second thought?)

Is the secret in how deeply you discount your prices? Or by how much you over-deliver each time?

Nope, the solution simply requires you to take a more mindful approach to establishing and maintaining customer relationships.

In this post, you’ll learn how to:

  1. Attract the right customers.
  2. Track what every customer thinks of you.
  3. Go beyond just typing behind a screen.
  4. Be more honest.
  5. Personalize your communications.
  6. Provide extra value (through marketing).
  7. Provide top-notch support.
  8. Respond to every customer’s feedback.

1. Attract the right customers

Have you ever walked into a store and immediately left because it wasn’t what you were expecting? Unfortunately, this happens a lot when businesses don’t clearly convey what it is they do or who they serve.

It might not seem like that big of a deal. Who cares if dozens or hundreds of people walk into your business (or website or social media page) and then walk right out? It’s not as though no one’s buying from you.

But it’s a waste of your time, money, and resources whenever that happens.

If you were to fix your marketing and sales message just a little bit, you could stop losing so many potential customers and start attracting the right kinds of people: the ones who become your happiest and most loyal customers (who’ll spend the most money on you).

Take a look at your:

  • Website
  • Social media accounts (especially Facebook)
  • Google My Business listing

What message do they send about you?

If your website looks like it was built in the 2000s, you’re definitely going to have a hard time reaching Millennials and Gen Zers.

If your social media accounts don’t have any content or are full of unprofessional commentary (like complaining about a current client), prospective customers are going to assume that’s how you run your business—and not everyone is into that.

If your Google My Business page doesn’t exist, or it does and the reviews are abysmal, forget about anyone even making it to your website or social media pages.

Google is where most people search first when they want to find out about a product or company. If you don’t have good reviews—or even a presence—there, why should customers dig any deeper?

Instead, take some time to really fill each of these in.

With Google My Business, for instance, you can provide prospects with a quick overview of what you do along with high-quality photos, local contact information, and client reviews like this example from Honest Buck Accounting:

Notice how the Google business listing on the right complements the information prospects will gather from other matching results.

It’s your website and social media (which also includes reviews sites like Yelp) that give you a chance to share your mission and values, write for your ideal customer, and share even more testimonials and reviews from happy customers:

By covering all your bases, you’ll make it easy for soon-to-be happy customers to find you—all on their own.

2. Keep tabs on your individual customers

Your customers are more than just numbers on a revenue report at the end of the month. They have names and goals and other unique details that’ll help you build stronger and more meaningful relationships with them.

For instance, let’s say you’re a health and wellness consultant. While working through a six-week program with Katie, your newest customer, she shares a number of useful tidbits about herself:

  • She wants to run the New York City marathon.
  • Her birthday is on December 10.
  • Although she’s dedicated to this new workout and diet regimen you’re putting together, she still loves to indulge in Dove chocolates.

So, you put a note on your calendar for next October to remind you to reach out and see if Katie signed up for the marathon. This would be a great reason to re-engage with her if she chooses not to move onto the next program.

You also make note of her birthday. Even if you can’t retain her business now, you plan on sending her a handwritten note and an envelope stuffed with dark chocolate Dove bars, reminding her that it’s okay to cheat on special days.

The only problem with this is that, once you unlock the recipe for making your customers happy (in this case, listen and then take action), the flood gates are going to be blown wide open.

As you get more and more customers, how are you supposed to keep track of all the Katies and the important details they share with you?

This is where having a CRM like Copper comes in handy.

A CRM is where you should be recording all your contacts: both leads and customers, along with any information you have about them so far that can help you grow that relationship.

But remember: this is more than a digital notepad. You can set tasks and calendar events to remind you to follow up at key times, with the goal of strengthening your presence in your customers’ lives and your overall relationships with them.

So in the example with Katie, you could create notes with her personal goals, and set a task to remind you to send her a birthday card:

If your CRM integrates with the calendar app you’re using (say, Google Calendar), it can even automatically create events in your calendar without you having to manually make another note there.

Image for post Know thy customer 🔍
Pro-tip 👇

Know thy customer 🔍

Learn how to collect and use information about your customers to build stronger relationships with this handbook.

3. Don’t hide behind a screen

It’s so easy these days to do business without ever having to see your customers face-to-face.

But just because the Internet has made it easier to sell to customers from around the world, does that mean their only interactions with you should be through Gmail or your website?

If you’re running a service-based company—for instance, you’re a consultant, a web designer, or a real estate agent—you should talk to your customers over video chat at least once over the course of working together. It’s just a nice way to say, “Hi! I’m really happy you’ve given me this opportunity and, if you need anything at all, I’m your person.”

You can do that easily enough with web conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom:

If you’re selling products, you can’t hide behind your screen either (even if you run your business from a computer). At the very least, make sure your website has photos of you. A video introducing yourself and your mission would be an even better touch.

Pro-tip: When you let customers see your face, it creates a stronger connection between two people instead of just one person who happened to buy from a faceless business entity.

Plus, it’s much easier to get angry at an email that apologizes for a missed deadline than a person who sits in front of you and explains that a family emergency came up. So, let them see your face and get to know you a bit. (And if you’re struggling to respond to angry customers, read this!)

4. Be more honest

This seems like a simple enough one to check off. However, honesty goes beyond the factual statements you make about yourself to customers like:

“I’ve been in this field for 12 years, but I didn’t start my own business until last month.”

There are certainly some truths you’ll have to admit to that may be difficult to get out.

For instance, let’s say you don’t have prior experience in your field and you did only just launch your business last month. When a prospective client asks to see work you’ve done in the past, you may be tempted to lie instead of explain that you’d been building websites for friends and family for years (for free). You worry that somehow the truth will devalue what you do and either make it impossible to get customers or to charge a living wage.

But it’s important that you get comfortable being transparent now so you don’t get into the habit of massaging the truth in the future.

There’s more to being honest and transparent in business than telling your story. You have to be reasonable when it comes to setting expectations too.

For example, let’s say a soon-to-be-divorced couple comes to you and asks for your help selling their home.

Couple: “We’ve got most of our affairs in order, except this house. How quickly do you think we can find a buyer for it?”

You want to be able to say, “Immediately!”

However, you know it’s a tough market right now and with the house in their possession not being in great shape, it’s not going to be easy to find a buyer—at least at their asking price.

No matter how tempting it is to over promise, remember that it’s only going to hurt the relationship you have with your customers. They trust that you’ll do what you promised, at the very least. Fail to meet those expectations—and that’s when you’ll have an unhappy customer on your hands.

The growing visibility of these customer interactions on social media has only increased how much damage is done when a business lies or exaggerates a truth.

Look up your favorite small business or local retailer on Twitter and check out the last few replies it’s received. Here’s an example from Arm the Animals:

Customers have become accustomed to sharing their grievances with businesses on social media. And while it would be easy to ignore difficult-to-answer questions or delete negative commentary altogether, it’s best to just be truthful when responding.

You can see the full exchange Arm the Animals had with one customer here:

You can see that the customer isn’t happy that there’s been no response to his questions sent through the website. However, it looks as though Arm the Animals’ truthful response on Twitter helped to salvage the relationship with this customer.

So, pay close attention to how you communicate with your customers. Be honest about what you’re doing. Be transparent about your progress. And set realistic expectations from the get-go, so you’re not put in that uncomfortable position of having to backtrack later on.

Oh, and never ghost them, even if just temporarily. Ignoring emails and calls will only make them angrier if they feel they’ve been misled or lied to.

5. Personalize your communications with customers

On a related note, communication is vital to your relationship with a happy customer. But sending all of your customers the same generic emails at once isn’t going to do it.

In a survey done by RedPoint Global, it revealed how frustrated consumers are with a lack of attention to the personal data they share with businesses. In retail, in particular, customers are disappointed when they receive:

  • Offers for something they already bought.
  • Completely irrelevant offers.
  • Messages that make it clear the company doesn’t recognize them as an existing customer.

If you’re using your CRM to collect details about your clients, put it to use here. You should have more than enough details to personalize your communications with them.

Of course, what you collect and use will depend on the kind of business you run.

Pro-tip: If you’re a service-based provider, you need more than just contact information. You should have a log of the important details about your customers’ businesses, their goals, and their preferences.

For those of you selling products (virtually or through a bricks and mortar), you’ll collect different details based on the relationship you have with the contact.

For instance, you should have the name and email address—two key components for email marketing—of leads. These would be the people who subscribed for product updates, your newsletter, and so on.

But for existing customers, you can collect so many other details like:

  • Previously purchased products
  • Items stored in their wish lists
  • Open shopping cart items
  • Buying trends
  • Local contact information (if you want to send them a promotional mailer)

Bottom line, if your customers are willing to share certain details with you, then they’re going to expect you to do something with them—even if it’s only to send personalized emails from time to time.

That said, you can still send the same messages to your leads or customers. The issue is when those messages come off as cold and impersonal.

However, if you use Copper to email your lists, you can easily build personalized details like names and roles into each message:

In this example, the auto-filled details allow you to give your emails a more personal feel.

If you want to email customer quicker, but don’t want to lose that personal touch, learn more here.

You can easily personalize individual emails with Copper, too. With the Chrome extension installed, you can pull up your customer’s contact record beside your new message and use the details you captured there to craft a custom email:

If you can infuse every email and call with this level of personalization, your customers will remember that. You’ll be the person who went to the trouble of noting down those important details, which reflects well on your attention to detail—and your business!

6. Provide extra value (through marketing)

Customers pay you to do what you do because you’re good at it and you get them the results they need.

But if you really want to make customers happy and hold onto their business, then you need to provide value beyond just your product or service.

Content marketing is one way to do this. It’s where you provide useful information for your customers (and prospects!) while empowering them to learn and solve problems on their own. You can always use it as a source of inspiration too.

For example, this is the Simple Maui Wedding blog:

You might not expect a wedding planning company to spend time blogging, but it’s a really effective tactic. Couples can come here and use it to inspire their own destination weddings or to help them learn more about how this company works.

Content marketing is a good idea for small business owners and freelancers of all types. For those of you who create content or digital experiences for a living, this is especially important as it’s one of the best ways to show off your skill set. For example:

  • Are you a skilled writer? Write a blog post every week.
  • Do you enjoy teaching people how to use software and other tools? Film short tutorials.
  • Would you prefer to teach a bigger concept to a group? Schedule a webinar.

Another thing you can do to add value is to create a place for customers to meet on social media. Facebook Groups are a good option for this.

Invite your customers, past and present, to join so they can:

  • Ask questions.
  • Share their wins.
  • Grow their connections to a community interested in similar topics and problems.
  • Get exclusive access to content and updates you’re sharing only with the group.

The No-Fluff Freelance Writing Group is a good example of this:

This is a community for freelance writers run by small business owner Alina Bradford, The No-Fluff Writer. While her professional promotions are kept to a minimum, they’re still there as gentle reminders to clients and prospects that there’s an expert running things behind the scenes, ready and able to help take them to the next level.

If it doesn’t make sense to build a community of customers on social media, that’s okay too. At the very least, set up an email list so you can regularly message your customers about changes coming down the road, new products coming out, and so on.

7. Provide top-notch support

It doesn’t matter what you’re in the business of selling. The second there’s a contract signed or a payment made, you need to be ready to provide support if your customer needs it.

In the same way that it becomes more difficult to manage customer details as your business grows, you’re going to experience the same kinds of problems with support if you don’t use a tool to manage it.

For example, let’s say you run a local pet store. You’ll need to provide support through the following channels:

  • In person
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Contact form on your website (or a live chat form)
  • Social media

Pro-tip: Rather than try to keep tabs on every point of contact, it’s best to monitor and manage support through a single channel.

Zendesk is a good solution for customer support. With it, you can provide white-glove support to customers, even if you’re a one-person operation.

You can also use Zendesk’s analytics to study trends in what your customers need help with:

  • Do your customers keep running into the same problems?
  • Do they happen at a similar stage?
  • Is it possible to create a permanent solution for it?

By being empathetic to your customers’ needs and problems, they’ll leave the support exchange feeling grateful instead of frustrated or angry.

A report by Dimensional Research and Zendesk shows how important this is too:

  • After a positive customer service experience, 42% of customers ended up making another purchase.
  • After a negative experience though, 52% of them ended their relationship with the business.

If you’re finding yourself pressed for time, you can write out email or phone call script templates so that you can address and resolve issues more efficiently when they pop up (Here are some templates to get you started).

8. Respond to all feedback

A happy customer might not always want to shout to the world: “I love my interior designer!” or “I have the best Thai restaurant to tell you about!”

But when they do, you should have your ear to the ground, waiting to thank them for the praise and congratulate them on their own success, purchase, or whatever wise choice they made by working with you.

When the inevitable negative customer feedback or review hits the web, you should be just as ready to pounce. If you leave negative commentary to sit out there on its own, your silence will only raise more questions.

If you’re still working on getting your business in order and more than one customer has run into the same problem, you can bet they’ll want to throw more fuel on the fire.

It’s not a fun position to be in. However, you have to be ready to step up, acknowledge the mistake or reason for their dissatisfaction, apologize (which is absolutely critical), and try to make amends with them.

Here’s a nice example of how to handle a very public complaint on Yelp from Casabella Salon owner Nathan:

Even if the complaint you receive comes from a difficult customer and the fault is theirs, no one online will know that. All they’ll know is that your customer was unhappy and you either did or didn’t fix it. So, take the high road.

This goes for anywhere you might receive reviews and includes both your negative reviews as well as positive ones. You can see here that that’s exactly what IvoryShore has done in addressing this glowing review on Google:

That said, there are just too many places online that customers can leave feedback or reviews:

  • Their social media feed
  • Your social media feed
  • Google reviews
  • Yelp reviews
  • Facebook reviews
  • Avvo reviews
  • Facebook groups
  • Online forums
  • Blog post rants
  • And so on

To try and keep track of all that on your own would be a nightmare. And you can’t trust Google Alerts to pick up on every mention of your company’s name.

A tool like ReviewTrackers, BirdEye or Podium would be useful for this.

With a reputation management tool (this example comes from ReviewTrackers), it’s much easier to keep your eye on all of your online feedback:

Plus, if you can save time monitoring your reviews, you’ll have more time to thoughtfully respond to all the feedback you receive—both positive and negative.

A happy customer is the key to long-lasting success 

You want every customer to walk away a happy customer. Better yet, you want every happy customer to stay on as a loyal customer—who sends other like-minded customers your way.

But you can’t make this a reality if you don’t put in a little work now.

From what you do behind the scenes to keep track of customers to the actual exchanges you have with them, everything has an impact on the relationship you have with them. So, shape up your business and make sure you’re providing a stellar experience at every turn.

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