With so many competing products and services in today’s business environment, a simple referral is often a key factor when it comes to swaying a person’s investment decision. Word-of-mouth is one of the most credible forms of advertising because it’s an authentic promotion from someone who stands to gain nothing personally, yet is putting their reputation on the line to make a recommendation.
We can research a product all we want, compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, and even download free trials. Yet, nothing has as much power as a recommendation or referral from someone who has already experienced a product or service. The best part is that word-of-mouth advertising is free – the trick is to get your customers on your side. The truth is, if you treat customers right and keep them satisfied, they can be your best sellers.
So, how do you ensure customer satisfaction and encourage positive recommendations? Well, there are actually several ways to get customers talking about you. However, the absolute number one thing your company can do for good word-of-mouth promotion is provide outstanding customer service. Below are a few suggestions for superior customer service. If you follow these few tips, you’re bound to get some word-of-mouth referrals.
1. Establish a Relationship – Know Your Customer’s Name
Knowing a customer’s name is something they may never forget. This is such an easy and powerful tool to establish positive rapport with consumers that it’s surprising more companies haven’t made it a standard. Of course, it can be nearly impossible at some companies to remember names when there is a high number of customers. If this is the case, then at least be sure to introduce yourself and attempt to establish a relationship. A customer that feels like he or she has a relationship with a company is more prone to talk about that company to friends and family.
2. Guarantee your Product
Do you offer any guarantees on your product or service? Do you offer post-sales support to help customers with questions? In other words – do you leave your customers hanging? If a customer is not satisfied with their product or service, and know they have a form of recourse (i.e., return the product, exchange the product, free replacements, etc.), then they are more apt to be happy with their overall experience. I know an employee time tracking company that offers free lifetime guarantees on all their time clocks. That is the kind of guarantee that sticks, and one that has kept their customers overly satisfied.
3. Be Accessible
What good is customer service and support if a person can never get a hold of them? The best companies offer live support with operators that actually answer the phone and are available during flexible hours. Live chat support is also a good option for certain products and services, but nothing can top having a real person on the phone to walk you through any problem, issue or concern you might have. Likewise, if you’re a retailer with a storefront, be sure to have your customer service counter convenient and accessible for your customers. And of course, any type of support department should staff friendly, respectful customer service representatives.
4. Follow Up
If you happen to work in a place that has customer support tickets, then putting a follow-up protocol in place might be one of the best things you can do. Consider a follow up as your last chance to leave a good impression with customers. Something simple is all you need, whether it’s a quick phone call to see if all issues have been resolved, or an email to see if there are any further questions. Other things to consider regarding a follow-up include calling customers on a waiting list to let them know a certain product is in, or touching base with a customer who expressed a negative experience in your store or with your product.
5. Say Yes and Apologize
We’ve all heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Well, even if they aren’t, it’s good to try and make them feel like they are. If they point out something that doesn’t work for them, apologize and try to work through it with them. If you can’t resolve the issue, then try to offer a new solution. Say yes – make their requests (and sometimes demands) happen. The customer will remember your willingness to help and thank you for it.
6. Be Proactive – Ask for Referrals
While it would be ideal to think that every single customer is out there talking about your product, the reality is they likely aren’t. I love my auto detailing company, but unless someone specifically asks me if I know a good one, I’m not likely to divulge any information. However, if I was given a handful of business cards and was asked to spread the word, I would be more likely to do so when I notice a friend’s car is dirty. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking your valued customers for referrals. If you do, make it easy for them – offer them incentives or provide them with materials to hand out. Just be sure you are respectful of their time and commitment to help out.
About the Author:
Brian Anderson is a successful business management consultant and has been associated with leading attendance and time keeping software companies. His area of expertise includes streamlining business processes of small and medium enterprises with time attendance software, and providing insights to improve overall organizational efficiency. He has written numerous articles on time clocks and their effectiveness in the workplace.
No related posts.