The business game has changed. Over the past few years, the explosion of disruptive, talented young start-ups and the utter transparency of online ways of working have raised the expectations of our customers like never before. Its no longer enough just to deliver what you said you would, when you said you’d deliver it – to truly stand out and turn casual clients into loyal advocates the journey is so much harder. You now have to surprise and delight the people you deal with if you truly want to stand out, and benefit from coveted glowing customer reviews, enhanced SEO from social mentions and trusted word-of-mouth marketing.
But in each crowded market place, and with the typical careful budgets of a start-up business, just how do you achieve this and abide by the key behaviors of a successful company? The good news is that all it really takes are a little thought and effort. So soak up these tips, see how you can put them into practice for yourself and reap the benefits of a loyal army of repeat customers…
Make It Personal
This is one area where smaller business can definitely win over the big-box corporates, hands down. Customers these days are used to dealing with faceless conglomerates, so being able to offer the personal touch can really make your business stand out. In fact, many customers now crave it. Even if you’re lucky enough to have staff, make sure you contact customers directly to thank them for their business and certainly to resolve any complaints quickly -some of your most loyal advocates can be born out of a situation that was initially negative, but where you went above and beyond to sort it out.
Send Handwritten Notes
If there’s one thing people don’t see enough of these days, it’s personalised communication. Sure, firing off an email is a bit more convenient, but writing something personal isn’t too much more effort to make, and it indicates so much care and attention. Taking the time to write a few lines on a notecard can really be make the difference, even if its only to a handful of clients. You can do this during the holiday season, for the new year or even on a special date to the company – it will always stand out.
Be Careful with Promises
Promises set your customer’s expectations, and if you set them too high, you’re either destined to fail or only to meet them – what you need to do in order to stand out is exceed them. Start by carefully examining what parameters of service you offer. Saying shipping takes 7-14 working days and fulfilling that will mean a satisfied customer. Saying it takes 7-14 days and having it arrive in four will delight them. Underpromise just a little – but not too much – and you can create moments of happiness in your transaction that will make you stand out.
Become a Customer Advocate
Any business that wants to survive will devote time to understanding their customer– who they are, what challenges they face, how you can better meet their needs – but companies that thrive generally go a step further, and that’s by making sure they genuinely have the best interests of clients at heart during the decision making process. This is something you cannot just pay lip service too, it must be authentic. If it is, customers quickly pick up on it. Be honest -if a product or service isn’t right for that client, tell them so. Find the best fit for them, resist the temptation to make a quick upsell unless it’s adding true value. Over time, this builds a level of trust that far outweighs short term, cash flow-driven decisions.
Treat Them to a Little Something
Be it a homemade cookie when they come in, a voucher for a coffee on their birthday or an unexpected free sample of something, don’t save all the best things to entice in new business – celebrate your existing customers too. Give them a little more than they were expecting – this is a great way to a make a lean marketing budget go much further. Mobile app development can help you with this, by integrating with a CRM system and giving you a pathway to draw your customer back in with small rewards and treats that will brighten their day. Put a smile on their face and they’ll be sure to spread the word about you, generating goodwill and bringing in new trade. It’s a win-win situation for business and customer that can only be a boost to both of you.