Competition is fierce out there for businesses. Not only do you need to have a top notch product and service, you need to be ensuring you keep customers from abandoning you or switching to a competitor.
Creating brand loyalty is one of the best ways to ensure your customers stick with you. Brands like Nike, Patagonia, Moleskine, and Harley Davidson have mastered the art of instilling a sense of loyalty into their customers. Once you buy a Harley, you join that community and have a sense of loyalty and kinship to the brand.
As a small, medium, large, new and old businesses struggle with creating this feeling, and that’s because it’s tough! You have to walk a fine line between satisfying all customers and not alienating anyone. Sure, companies like Nike or Harley Davidson may have some customers that had an unpleasant experience and now dislike those brands, but the majority of their followers feel a strong sense of identity with those brands.
What can you do to delight customers?
Well, if I knew that I’d probably be a millionaire. It’s the million dollar question brands across the world have. But there are some ways in which you can start slow and build loyalty with just a few people.
One tactic is to delight customers. This can mean many things from sending a handwritten note to a loyal customer or sending them a box of goodies at random. This is strategy that doesn’t scale well, but if you do it right you can reach a wide audience through social media.
One of the top companies that is known for delighting customers is Zappos. They’ve made their name for their top-notch customer service. You can return shoes 365 days a year, when many companies will only let you return within 14-30 days. The customer service personnel is also authorized to make their own decisions. They don’t need to speak to supervisors or get permission to do something, making sure your question or issue gets solved on the spot.
Sujan Patel put together an excellent guide to creating customer delight from designing a website with customers in mind to referral programs.
He has quotes from entrepreneurs like Maria oz of Femtrepreneur who says she includes “a handwritten thank-you note with each order from her vintage shop business.”
Megan Minns, a growth-platform expert, said, “I like to send special welcome packages and even a surprise personalized item in the middle of our project. I think wrapping up a project is such an exciting time, so I love sending clients a little goodbye package as well, just to show my appreciation for working with them.”
And real estate agent Naomi Hattaway makes goodie bags for kids of her clients to keep them occupied as they go house hunting.
Sujan mentions the concept of “Under promise and over deliver” and while some people disagree, he thinks this is a good policy to follow. One example he mentions is that of restaurants. You get there and are told the wait is 45 minutes. But lo and behold, 20 minutes later a table has opened up. It’s best for that restaurant to extend their wait time so as not to disappoint you. If they told you the wait was 10 minutes and it took 20, you may be a little upset. But priming you to think it will take 45 and it only took 20 now puts you in a happier mood.
Customer Support & Customer Delight
These two concepts go hand in hand. It’s frustrating to deal with customer service when you have a problem with a company. I had a friend who was double charged by a car rental agency and has been trying to get her money back for 2 months. This type of experience has now soured my view of that company and has lost her as a future customer.
But if that same company had issued the refund right away and also offered her a discount on a future rental or 1 free rental day, she would be extremely happy to continue being a customer.
The best way to provide excellent customer support is to empower employees that occupy that role. If you give them the leeway to make whatever decision will most positively impact the customer, you will end up with very happy end users.
Who doesn’t love a good surprise? Now what if a company you recently purchased from surprised you? You’d probably be very pleased and delighted.
In Sujan’s article, he mentions an example from Morton’s Steakhouse. Peter Shankman, an author and investor, tweeted to Mortons that he was flying to Newark and wanted a porterhouse steak. It was obviously a joke, because who would expect a restaurant to do that? But Morton’s really did meet him at the airport with a 24 oz porterhouse.
You can be sure that Shankman shared this with his huge Twitter following and probably tells everyone who goes to the area that they have to eat at Mortons.
And companies don’t just do this for those with huge followings, Sujan mentions a quote from someone who tweeted to Nordstrom:
“I tweeted Nordstrom once with a shipping issue (including the security tag left on my new coat) and the store sent an employee *to my home* to remove the tag. I have 46 followers.”
Now this doesn’t mean you need to go to the airport when a customer tweets at you, but it does mean you should be paying attention to what customers are saying to or about you online and respond in a timely manner. If a customer complains about an issue with a product they received from you, write them back and offer to replace it. Rather than lose a customer, you can turn them into an advocate.