An unhappy customer often quietly takes his or her business elsewhere, leaving you to wonder where your company went wrong. Others are more vocal about it and complain to anyone who will listen about the poor service or quality of product they received. With your competition just a click away, you can’t afford to lose customers to poor service. Most business owners understand that, yet they don’t know how to improve customer retention without investing a lot of money. The good news is that you can start with simple tips that cost little to nothing yet provide amazing return on investment.
The Power of a Handwritten Note
In this day of email and text messaging, there’s something special about receiving a handwritten note in the mail from a business. It could be to thank a first-time or loyal customer, to wish him or her a happy birthday or service anniversary, or include a discount towards a future purchase. Taking a few minutes to write a note connects with the customer on a more personal level. It also shows that the person he or she does business with at your company is human too. It’s not that your customer didn’t know that, but sometimes it’s easy to forget when most messages arrive electronically.
Be Proactive and Solve Problems Before Customers Realize They Exist
By carefully monitoring customer accounts and activity with your company, it’s possible to spot potential problems before the customer does. Perhaps he or she requested shipment to a gift recipient for the most recent order, but you notice that it’s set to ship to the customer’s home address instead. You can step in and correct the shipping error without the customer ever knowing about it. Consistently getting orders right builds trust in your company while just one wrong order has the opposite effect.
Follow-Up with Customers Who Complain
While no one expects a business to be perfect, they do expect accountability for wrong actions and the desire to make things right. When someone calls or stops into your business to lodge a complaint, do everything you can to resolve it on the spot. However, you shouldn’t stop there. Let the customer know that you will personally reach out to him or her via telephone within a week to ensure that your company has resolved the issue in the customer’s eyes. If things still aren’t right when you follow up, ask what you can specifically do to resolve the situation to the customer’s satisfaction.
Empower Customer Service Agents to Bend the Rules Sometimes
You’re in business to make money and you naturally need to enforce rules to achieve that. However, sometimes it’s more important to maintain goodwill with a customer than to be a stickler for rules. Employees who serve customers on the front lines, whether in a call center, by email, or in person, should know that they have the authority to override a restriction when the situation calls for it. Waiving a late fee for a customer who’s never been late in the past is a typical example. Just let your employees know the parameters so they don’t promise the customer something that your company can’t deliver.