Go The Extra Mile
Name me one person who doesn't want to be treated like a VIP -- it is impossible. Businesses who are able to master the skill of cherishing, appreciating and valuing their customer-base, throughout every facet of the organization, will have an easier time acquiring customers and, more importantly, keeping those customers.
Treat Your Employees Well
Going the extra mile for your customers requires consistency throughout the organization. In order to make your customers happy, you need happy employees. Treating your work force like valuable VIPs will create an environment where employees want to please the customer - not just survive another workday.
In Fortune Magazine's annual 100 Best Companies To Work For article, the theme for each of the companies remains consistent. They value the employees, which drives satisfaction and retention levels through the roof. SAS, a company that has held the number one spot on Fortune's list, treats its employees in a very unique way. An employee stated, "People stay at SAS in large part because they are happy… I would argue that people don't leave SAS because they feel regarded -- seen, attended to and cared for."
I will even take it a step further and for small businesses without employees, it is important to make sure you, the life blood of your business, are happy. Find ways to create a balanced and happy work environment.
8 Quick & Simple Customer Service Tips
Sole proprietors and small businesses can face unique challenges when trying to ensure stellar customer service. Limited resources can require these businesses to think outside of the box when creating customer service experiences. Here are a few customer service ideas that may help your creative juices start flowing:
- Unique product packaging. This could be unique wrapping or a personalized letter.
- Personalized and proactive order communication, from start to ship.
- Segmented marketing campaigns to reach out to existing customers or customers who haven't purchased in awhile. Customers like to be noticed when they are gone.
- Free shipping policies on orders over a certain amount.
- Free gift or product sample with each order. This free gift could be a small promotional item or a new product for which you hope to gain customer traction. For instance, a photographer included a small custom photo book with my order of prints. It was unexpected, but such a great surprise.
- Customer loyalty programs. Treat your best customers like the VIPs they are for your business. The airlines do a nice job of rewarding their frequent fliers with upgrades.
- For service-oriented businesses, a phone call follow-up with the customer to ask them how their experience was will help them feel like you actually care about doing a good job and hearing their feedback.
- Collect your customer's birthday information and send them something special on that day. This could be a general card or product discounts.
Real Business Examples of Great Customer Service
I was scheduled for a singing performance in Las Vegas and found Rad 80's Fashion for my costume. The designer/CEO proactively contacted me to let me know my costume order would be delayed. When I mentioned my time line she offered to ship it overnight at her expense. Once the packaged arrived, I was surprised and delighted to see each costume piece was individually gift wrapped in elaborate and colorful tissue paper. This little detail left me feeling a bit like a kid at Christmas. After the product arrival, the business owner contacted me to ensure everything was all right and to wish me luck on my performance. Wow. Proactive communication and a pleasant product surprise made Rad 80's Fashion a stand out company. Despite being a small business, they were still able to make me feel valued and appreciated.
Another poster child for going the extra mile is Apple Computers. They have an actual “Surprise and Delight” customer service policy. Apple Computer's customers are some of the most fiercely loyal in any industry. Why? Because in addition to thrilling its customers with cutting edge technology, Apple loves to thrill its customers with unexpected give-aways and product upgrades. I experienced this first hand when I brought in my old laptop for a small repair. Their solution was to offer me a newly upgraded laptop to make up for the trouble. Did I feel like a rock star picking up free swag? Yes, yes I did. Do you think Apple has a customer and evangelist for life? Absolutely.
Making Wise Customer Service Decisions
Going the extra mile doesn't always have to require extra money or resources. (Obviously, a business' goal should be to make money, not give away the farm). Business owners will need to be watchful to ensure their customer acquisition and retention costs don't get out of hand. Especially for small businesses with limited funds. The right customer strategy can be achieved when the cost of acquiring customers becomes less than the revenues generated from the customer.
Image (c) jaylopez