By Rieva Lesonsky
Are there businesses you absolutely love? Companies that make your life easier, simpler or just plain happier? (You know who they are.) Now think about your own business. Do your customers feel the same way about you? Do they love your business?
Unless you’re earning customers’ love (not like, not lukewarm “OK”), you’ve got something to worry about. With customers relying on social media to share information about businesses like never before, getting one customer to love you can quickly translate into hundreds or thousands. (Conversely, having one customer hate you can really cause problems.)
Fortunately, there’s no better time than Valentine’s Day to work on heating up your customer relationships. So how can you get customers to love your business? Like any relationship, in order to succeed the relationship with your client should focus on giving, not getting. Here’s what you can give to earn your customers’ undying affection.
Appreciation. Showing you care builds a lasting relationship. Appreciation begins when the customer first visits or contacts your business—it’s how you answer the phone, how quickly you reply to emails or the smile on your sales clerk’s face. And appreciation continues after you make the sale—in the form of follow-up emails, calls or notes asking how the purchase worked out.
Gifts. Who doesn’t like to receive a free gift? It can be something as small as a coupon for a percentage off the next purchase, or a mailing for a free appetizer at your restaurant. It can be given for traditional reasons (at a customer’s birthday or the anniversary of their last purchase) or for no reason at all.
Reliability. We’ve all dated flashy girls or “bad boys” at one time or another, but whom do we settle down with? People we can rely on. Lasting relationships are built on trust, and that’s true for business relationships as well. Customers want to know they can rely on your business to come through when they have an emergency, to solve their problems, and to make good on your promises. Earn customers’ trust and never break it.
A personal touch. Didn’t Mom always tell you that if you wanted to find the right person, you have to “Be yourself”? Differentiate your business from the pack by sharing some of yourself. A sense of humor in your marketing materials, a story about your startup on your website, or simply a friendly chat when customers come in can humanize your small business and give you the edge over corporate giants.
Start giving your customers these four things, and you’ll soon feel the love.