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?