You already know you’re dedicated to your brand, but how do you get customers to feel the same way? It starts with building positive experiences.
Each time you interact with a customer or client, you want to establish a connection and build a meaningful relationship. This can be done in person, or automated with email marketing, but be sure to stay consistent with your customer interactions. Once you set your standard, you’ll have customers choosing you every time.
To start forging your reputation, check out these tips for making each customer interaction count:
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1. Always shake the customer’s hand
You’ve heard it before; that first impressions matter. If you’re looking to make a good first impression with your customers then a good place to start is with a strong handshake.
Handshakes can help you:
- Establish and build trust with others
- Create a personal connection
- Show cooperation
2. Never use your cell phone during meetings
There’s no doubt that cell phones are a part of our modern life, but should they be a part of important business meetings? According to a Pew Research study, most Americans don’t think so. The study found that 94% of Americans agreed that it’s not ok to use your phone during a meeting.
As a small business owner, this is something you should keep in mind when hosting customer or client meetings. Some downsides to using your phone during a meeting include:
- Missing important details that will impact your customer relationship down the road.
- Your customers thinking you’re rude and unengaged.
- Your customers thinking you have more important conversations than the one with them.
- Your customers losing respect for you and potentially seeking others to work with.
2. Be empathetic
Everyone likes to feel understood and validated, including your customers. Showing empathy with each interaction you have will help you establish a strong foundation of loyal customers. To be as empathetic as possible, you should:
- Show gratitude for all your customers.
- Apologize for any problems, issues, or hold ups.
- Relate to customers’ situations and put yourself in their shoes.
Some phrases that express empathy include:
- “I can see how frustrating that must be…”
- “I’m so sorry to hear that…”
- “I appreciate your patience…”
3. Ask customers for feedback
Successful businesses are in a constant state of improving. One of the easiest ways to do this is through customer feedback. You can collect this feedback by:
- Administering surveys via follow up emails
- Asking for feedback during one-on-one conversations with customers
- Sending follow up letters after your customers have worked with you
Gathering feedback shows you care and want to continue to make your customers have the best experience possible.
4. Never put customers on hold or make them wait a long time
We’ve all been there. We have an important question or issue and we’re put on hold. Don’t do this to your customers. It can cause them to:
- Hang up
- Feel frustration toward your business and brand
- Seek a competitor business for help
However, if you absolutely have to put a customer on hold, here are some strategies to do so:
- Give them insight into why you’re putting them on hold. People are a lot more understanding when you communicate why something is happening.
- Get their contact information and offer to call them back quickly. This shows that you’re invested in helping them.
- Track how long they’re on hold. Customers should not be on hold for more than a few minutes.
5. Respond quickly to customer questions, comments, and concerns
At the end of the day, you want every customer to have walked away feeling like they’ve received good customer service. This means you’ll need to respond to their questions, comments and concerns quickly. Doing so can help you:
- Gain loyal customers and clients
- Build trust with customers and clients
- Receive new customers from recommendations of satisfied customers
As you respond to your customers and clients, you’ll also receive valuable feedback that can help your business grow.
6. Have real conversations with your customers
When interacting with customers directly, you want to be easy to approach. The more open you are, the more comfortable your customers will be. To do this, you can:
- Use language that is relatable and conversational. Stay away from any formal language.
- Show appreciation for their comments, concerns and suggestions. You should even show appreciation for any negative comments. These should be treated like learning points to improve your small business.
If you have customers that feel upset with any hold-ups or issues, be sure to follow through with results. You can also follow up afterward to ensure they’re completely satisfied. Your goal is to establish real relationships with your customers.
To encourage real connections between your staff and customers you can try out these two strategies:
- Avoid outsourcing your customer service or support staff. Using an in-house support staff will allow your customers to connect to your employees easier and get to know them.
- Give clients or customers a specific contact point in your company. When you do so, give them that employee’s direct contact information. That way if they have any questions or need help they have a direct contact. They won’t have to look up any information.
7. Solve their problems
We live in an age of instant gratification. That means customers and clients want solutions faster than ever before. When a customer is presenting an issue to you, be sure to:
- Listen carefully. It’s important that you take note of every detail so you can tailor a solution that fits your customer or client perfectly.
- Outline the problem. Work together with your customer or client to make sure you understand the problem completely. Have them help make the outline with you.
- Present a variety of solutions. Let them weigh in and choose the solution that fits them best. Stay open minded to any changes or modifications they may offer to the solution.
You’ve done your job successfully when your customer leaves feeling like their issues were heard and they’re taken care of. This helps ensure they will work with you again in the future.
8. Always say thank you
We all like to feel appreciated. Saying a simple “thank you” to your customers lets them know that you appreciate and value their relationship. It also ensures that your customers know their business is valued.
By following email marketing best practices, you can create professional-looking, personalized thank you emails that will not only leave a great impression but allow your customers to connect with you on social media and know-how to reach you if they need any further assistance.
When your customers have a positive experience and feel valued, they’re more likely to recommend your business to others. This helps your business grow.
9. Reward your loyal customers
Loyal customers support a business through both good and bad times. For those customers that continue to buy your products or services, you can reward them in a few ways.
For starters, you can create a loyalty program. Loyalty programs offer:
- Cash back
- Points programs
These not only serve as a reward system but can increase loyalty even more. If loyalty programs aren’t something you’re interested in you can also send reward gifts by mail. For instance, some companies send gift baskets to customers each time they refer another customer to you.
10. Send holiday cards
The holidays are a perfect time to spread your appreciation and holiday spirit to your customers. One way to do so is by sending a holiday card to them directly. These cards help build, maintain and keep customer relationships.
Holiday cards also offer you a way to reconnect with your customers who haven’t been active in a while. Sending a card helps show that you value them as a customer. You can also use the card to highlight how well your business relationship has done throughout the year. This can help motivate them to continue to work together in the upcoming year.
Automating this process is easy with email marketing. Constant Contact offers beautiful email templates for many holidays and allows you to send personal and timely communications to let your customers know you care.
Set the standard.
Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but it is important to set a standard when interacting with customers.
Use the tips above to create your own guidelines on customer interaction based on what you believe is important for your customers and your business. Make sure you share these guidelines across the business so everyone is on the same page. This way, your customers will receive a consistent experience when working with you and your team.
Establishing a strong relationship with each customer that comes your way doesn’t have to seem daunting. All you need to do is prioritize their needs and create positive interactions every time.