Think about a time where you had amazing customer service. Chances are it was something small, something unexpected that made that experience memorable.
In business, the customer experience is everything. Even if your business is online. Even if you don’t have a tangible product. People buy from people.
Creating a personal, customized customer experience is vital to your brand and in helping to create lifelong customers.
How do you do that?
Thank you notes
If you physically send clients a product, something as simple as a handwritten thank you note goes miles. It could be from the CEO, a sales rep, a customer support rep, or even the person who packs and ships the order. It creates a personal connection between the company and the customer
Even if you don’t have a physical product, send a thank you email. Make it something that isn’t scripted, that feels genuine.
Add something extra
Physical products do have a little bit of an edge when it comes to all the little extras they can do. Everything from branded products – pens, magnets, hats, etc. – to candies.
One of the companies I work with helps custom apparel startups with everything from marketing to finances. One of the things they talk about is adding something extra, something free to their order that will perhaps spark an idea for a future purchase. For example, if their customer orders custom t-shirts, add in one hat with the same design.
If you don’t have a physical product, there are still other ways you can add something extra. Perhaps you have a relationship with another company, one with products your customers would be interested in. When a customer buys from you, they could get a discount code, a free trial, etc. of the other company’s product.
Once you deliver your product or service to the customer your relationship isn’t over. In fact it’s really just beginning, because most likely everything that follows will determine whether you’re a one-time purchase or a regular investment.
Give your customer time to experience your product and then do a follow-up. If you can, follow-up calls are the best way to get immediate feedback. Especially if you’ve established that one-on-one relationship with your customer.
Other customers will feel more comfortable with an email or survey follow-up. But you can do both. Email your customer to let them know you’ll be giving them a call in a few days to find out how everything is going. Then if you can’t connect with them, send the email survey.
At ShareDesk, after clients were set up with the software to manage their coworking spaces, we would schedule a follow-up call within 14 days to check in. It allowed us to troubleshoot any issues that were easily solved and provided insight on what features we need to prioritize for a future update.
Going above when correcting a mistake
Mistakes happen. Whether the order doesn’t arrive on time, a client didn’t get a response to their email inquiry.
Mistakes are frustrating for everyone involved. You want your customers to have a good experience so that they continue to do business with you.
I’ve ordered handmade jewelry from the UK from one specific designer. One time, she did not have the sterling silver chains in stock which meant the order wasn’t going to be shipped within her standard 5 days. Not only did she notify me that the order was going to be delayed, but she sent an additional necklace in the order to make up for it.
On the tech side of things at ShareDesk, customers would request to reserve a desk space at the offices listed on the website. It was our policy that offices had to reply to these requests within 24 hours. If an office didn’t reply, instead of simply cancelling the request I would first call the office to see if they were still active and had received the request. If that venue couldn’t host them I would suggest other venues that I knew were active and had recently accepted bookings, plus would often give a 5-10% discount. Especially if the new venues where higher priced than the original one the customer had selected.
Stop by their office
If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by your customer’s office to say hello. Or even make an effort to visit customers. So often because business is all done online, we never see anyone’s face. It can be refreshing to meet someone in person. From a customer’s perspective, it’s an amazing feeling to know someone went out of their way to meet you in person.
While working at ShareDesk, we had customers around the world that used our software to manage their coworking spaces. This meant that all the training I did with them was done online. It wasn’t physically possible for me to visit each customer. However, I would often go to Vancouver for a working holiday. On two occasions I was able to set up a meeting in person with clients to help them get set up with the software.
Stories from the industry
Here’s what a few customer support/service representatives had to say about how they provided guests with a great experience.
I found I had the most success with making guests feel valued when I related to them as an individual. By using my voice, they could see I was a person who could relate to them and who genuinely wanted to help them however I could. I really loved getting emails from parents who had children with Autism, as I work with people who have Autism also and I could understand their needs even more. Also, by breaking down technical solutions, I could let older guests know that they were being heard and that solving the problem was something we could do together. It was all about quick relationship-building.
- Jess Holtslander, former PSR at Disney Interactive
I worked at a small computer repair shop in Macklin, Saskatchewan. Being a super rural area we would get customers from neighboring towns. We had a client from a neighboring town, Unity − a 40 minute drive from Macklin. After having their PC in the shop for about a week we finally got their machine clear of malware and running at full speed with the last of our scans finishing around 4:00 pm on Friday.
We were closed on weekends and this client really wanted their PC for their days off. Having nothing else to do that evening, I decided to load their PC into my car and drive to Unity. My grandparents lived there at the time, so I figured I could get a surprise visit and drop our clients computer off in person to earn our company some extra brownie points and street cred.
- Kodie Beckley, former service rep at Gopher Byte Computers
Customer Experience is all about under promising and over delivering. If you typically can complete a customer’s order within 5 business days, let customers know your policy is 8 business days.
Then find little things that will make your business stand out from the competition. It can be as simple as adding something a little extra to their order, send a thank you postcard, or stopping in to say hi to a customer if you’re near their place of work.
Probably the most important aspect of the customer experience is how you fix your mistakes. Mistakes happen, but how you handle them, and how you exceed the customer’s expectation, will be what they remember you for.
Every business has a personality and your business’ will shine through with those little extras.