The Customer Service Series: Develop trust at a distance

If customers don't trust your business, your chances for success dramatically reduce Click To Tweet

Distrust is the bane of every entrepreneur’s (especially those operating in the ‘very’ skeptical Nigerian market) existence. So in this post, I’ll be talking about some easy ways you can build and sustain trust with your customers and consequently enjoy more patronage and customer loyalty & advocacy.

1. Have your customer’s best interests at heart

There are so many easy ways to do this, for example, you can make your website mobile friendly, let your payment portal be secure and hassle free, offer recommendations and helpful advice. Just endeavor to be thoughtful and empathetic in how you run your business and engage with customers. Plus, and this is very

Plus, and this is very key if your product/service is not the right fit for a customer, let them know that too. You don’t have to try to be all things to all people. Truth is you would get calls from prospects asking for some help in an area that’s not really your business’ thing. And while it may seem like ‘growth’ to take on that (new) customer, if that customer isn’t a good fit, it can actually stunt real growth.

In some cases, trying to work with customers who are not ideal clients can lead to such a bad experience for both your business and the customer that you actually create vocal detractors for your business! 

2. Be capable of delivering on your promises

For example, 24 hours delivery should be just that. If for any reason you might not be able to make it happen then escalate (within the agreed time period) and by all means be apologetic while doing so.

Let the product do what you said it would do and let the service experience deliver the value that’s being paid for. Never over promise and under deliver!

3. Be honest and authentic

Do not collect money for a size 4, mistakenly deliver a size 3 and then make the return and refund process hellish and frustrating. Customers and clients are smart; they know when you’re being up front or when they are told a mistruth.

They’ll appreciate and admire you more when you admit to a mistake, rather than playing games or even worse, avoiding the topic altogether.

Finally, not to scare you, but what is always important to know is, the moment your business is not trusted by people, your chances for success within your market/industry are diminished dramatically.

Cheers!

The Customer Service Series: Don’t interrupt your customers

You're going to have to get your customers attention one way or the other, just don't interrupt them Click To Tweet

I’ll make this one very quick. Here’s a simple fact, people do not like ‘marketing interruptions’.

Take these two scenarios. You’re listening to a radio station but a jingle comes up, so you tuned out. You’re watching your favourite show and there’s a commercial break, so you pick up your phone to check your Twitter TL. If this sounds familiar to you, then you know what I’m talking about.

This is the age of ad blockers where people are paying a significant sum to avoid advertising. So you can imagine how irritating it can be for these people when brands/businesses somehow manage to break through and interrupt what they are doing.

As a business you have to be deliberate about not annoying your (prospective) customers and quite frankly, things like;

  • Incessant generic and ill-targeted advertising
  • Nonstop unsolicited emails
  • Bombarding a customer (after they’ve made a purchase) with marketing offers and updates

can be quite exasperating.

The right way to interrupt customers

The thing is you need your customers to notice you. However, if you’re going to interrupt your customers at all, you want to make sure that it is more for their gain than yours.

As you navigate this tricky landscape, you must ask yourself these three key questions:

  1. Is what I’m offering/doing/saying/sharing relevant?
  2. Are the message and the overall experience contextual?
  3. Is the journey enjoyable — or at least not unenjoyable?

At the end of the day, in one way or the other, you’d have to interrupt your (prospective) customer in other to be heard. The key is to try to find a balance between interrupting and creating relevant interesting brand experiences that they’d want to participate in.

Cheers!

The Customer Service Series: Be at the start of your customer’s journey

Think your customer's journey begins when they reach you? Think again Click To Tweet

Some weeks ago I started reading a book on customer experience called How to Wow by Adrian Swinscoe. The practical insights contained in the book are pretty much what inspired The Customer Service series.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing insights from this book alongside some of my own thoughts because what is knowledge if it isn’t shared? So, if you are a business owner looking to improve (or even craft) your customer experience you might want to:

  • Purchase the book, it’s available on Amazon
  • Follow this series and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Now, moving on to the first insight, I’d start by explaining what the term ‘customer journey’ means and entails.
Think of the customer journey as a roadmap detailing how a customer becomes aware of your brand/business, interacts with and buys from you–and beyond. The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your business and brand.

Mock graphics for partners

INSIGHT 1: Be at the start of your customer’s journey

As a business owner, you might be tempted to think (wrongly) that your customer’s journey begins when he or she steps into your office or visits your website or sends you a DM. On the contrary, when you study the consumer buying process (see image below) you’d realize that in most cases it actually begins way earlier.

The-Consumer-Buying-Process

Let me give you a real-life example.

Two weeks ago I wanted to buy a ready to wear Ankara dress for a church event and because I didn’t know whom to speak to I went to Google. Some results came up but none were relevant and could solve my problem. On Instagram, I searched for the hashtag #ReadyToWearAnkaraDress and on Twitter, I asked my ‘followers’ for recommendations.

Now as a fashion designer/retailer who has ready to wear Ankara dresses as a product offering, why not consider running a Google AdWords campaign that’d bring up your business whenever relevant queries are done? What if your IG posts had the right hashtags? What if you proactively and regularly search out specific keywords on Twitter that relate to your business and product offerings? You’d easily have found a prospective customer (me) and begin to make your sales pitch rather than just waiting for me to find you by God’s grace.

dreezy smhDoes this make any sense?

So as regards your business you need to begin to ask some serious questions. What does your customer journey look like? Where does it start? And are you (always) there to reach out, offer help and make your sales pitch?

5 ways to keep your clients coming back to you

I love writing, writing my plans, thoughts and even notes to God. Interestingly, most times it leads to me asking Him questions and of course getting answers…some of which I’d like to share with you today.

This is a world of similarities. Multiple businesses offering pretty much the same product or service. Several businesses all scrambling for the same consumers. Not surprising then that one of the major questions on the minds of business owners is, “How do I keep my clients coming back to me for repeat business?” Just how does one keep clients from falling for the seductive ‘lyrics’ of competitive businesses?’

So here we go *drumroll* here are useful tips to keep your clients hooked heart, body and soul to your product or service.

Keep track of your clients; with your business purpose in mind

Remember as an entrepreneur, your major objective is to provide solutions. This means you need to be truly concerned about the people who currently need your solution –whether they know they need it or not. Being concerned about your clients should naturally lead you to keeping track of them especially with regards to the purpose of your business. Sounds like plenty English to me right now…time to break it down.

Say you run a hair salon, your business purpose is to keep your client’s hair always on fleek. To do this, you need to keep track of your clients to ensure that their hair-dos always represent. This could mean sending that special client reminders to swing by your salon for a new do… the last one you did for her two weeks ago should be getting old and rough. In the reminder, you can even suggest new styles she can try based on her preferences and shape of her face and send pictures to her.

What this does is give your client the feeling that you care for her and how her hair looks. She is not only reminded of when to change her hair-do but with time, she’ll stop thinking about her hair because she knows you’ve got her covered! You’ll remind her when she needs to come by, you’ll share styles with her and you’ll do them well. I don’t know about you but for me, this is one sure tip to keeping your client from even thinking of patronizing competitive salons.

Know your thing and let your customers see you as an expert

Do you sometimes compare your business to others in the industry? Do you notice the gaps between where you are and where they are? Don’t worry, it’s normal. This should not deter you or make you feel incapable of keeping your clients.

The important thing to focus on as you try to close the gap is that “one thing” that attracted your current clients to you in the first place. There is something you are very good at…something that you are a tested- and-proven expert of. I can hear you asking yourself already, “But how do I know this?”

Okay, imagine one of your current clients is talking with a friend about your service. What would be the biggest wow about your business that would make her friend say, “Oh I want to try this lady?” If you can answer this, congrats! You’ve found what you are the expert of! For one example, Banke Meshida-Lawal of BM Pro is amazing with making her client’s eyes POP!!

Make it a point of duty that everyone that meets you, leaves with the conviction that you know your stuff. More importantly, that they feel a connection with you! People like to be in safe hands that they trust. Even if they try other businesses, as long as your knowledge is deep and there is a connection, they’d soon realize it and come back to you.

Be humble and honour your clients

You humble yourself when you know and act like the client is boss. This way you always desire to deliver excellent service to the client always. Even when the client is upset and spitting out venom, you should seek first to understand before sharing your point of view…if you really must.

Offer your product/service in the way your customer likes and would feel respected. For example, prompt response to emails from clients, calling clients back when you miss their calls, creating offerings that fit their needs and preferences or even simply saying thank you for payments.

Always speak respectfully to your clients and also about your clients, especially when discussing them with your staff.  This is important because how you refer to clients when speaking with staff impacts the way they will speak to them in future. So if you say, “This client can be annoying”, the next time the client calls, your staff unconsciously has less patience with them. This can ultimately lead to the loss of that client.

Don’t become a financial burden

When you offer excellent customer service and are passionate about your clients and their development with respect to our business purpose, you will most likely create new and deeper relationships with them. Some of which even grow into friendships….this is really a good thing.

However, at all points you need to ensure financial respect is maintained between you and your clients. No matter the relationship, avoid situations that make your clients feel they are patronizing your service because they just have to help you. It can be emotionally tasking and with time, they will run!

Never download all your business and/or personal problems to clients so they feel obligated to help out. Clients may also feel obliged to patronise you if have lent you money that you can’t pay back. Talk about a messy situation.

Be consistent

Knowing your stuff brings clients to you and makes them feel safe. Being humble, respectful and keeping track of your clients ensures your business is top of mind for them and guarantees repeat business. Ensuring financial respect exists ensures all parties remain friends over time. This is the formula for preparing the cake…the icing on the cake comes from consistency!

A consistent application of your proven formula will not only ensure your clients remain happy with your business. It will also tire those competitive businesses trying to tap into the opportunities in your industry.

These tips blessed me when I found them…and I sincerely hope they do same for you.

Which of the tips did you love the most and intend applying to your business immediately? Let us know below.