The difference between creating raving fans out of your customers or not is getting the multitude of the basics — the little things — right on a consistent basis.
Just a moment of reflection on your own experiences will reveal your favorite businesses — the ones you frequent often and tell others about with great enthusiasm — are those that go the extra mile in their pursuits to leave you feeling happy and satisfied.
Companies in the business of fostering happiness in their customers are the most enlightened of all. They understand that successful business operations are, first and foremost, about serving people and ensuring their satisfaction. These businesses know that increasing the pleasure, fulfillment and happiness of the patrons who support them with their hard-earned dollars will build a base of loyal and referring customers.
Here are a few of the basics to which you should pay close attention and deliver consistently to create lasting business success:
Greeting your customers: How your customers are greeted is vitally important because it creates a lasting first impression. If the greeting they receive is lackadaisical — lacking smiles, energy or a caring attitude — your customers will be turned off from the start. Conversely, if customers are acknowledged quickly by a smiling, happy person — one who’s receptive and caring — they will be open to your business and what it has to offer. The greeting offers an opportunity to set the stage for success every time a customer chooses to do business with you.
Listening to your customers: I’ve yet to meet a person who didn’t want to be listened to while speaking. Yet, all too often customers aren’t heard by the businesses serving them. When this occurs, customers aren’t being served at all. They’re undervalued and neglected and they know it. When you listen to your customers — and train your team to do the same — customers feel acknowledged, valued and cared for. The result is greater rapport and strong, lasting relationships.
Understanding your customers: When you’re truly listening — the first component of effective communication — you and your team members learn the exact wants and needs of your customers. Only then will you be positioned to ask questions that will help you fully understand their desires and offer high-quality solutions. With this type of solid communication in place, your business can accurately meet and even exceed your customers’ desires.
Correcting mistakes for your customers: How mistakes are handled constitutes another demarcation among poor, good and exceptional businesses. Errors made by your business should never become the responsibility of your customer. This is a sure fire way to damage your reputation and lose business. It’s far wiser to base your operation on integrity — to own any missteps, no matter how costly, and do all you can within reason to correct the situation with your customer. The impression you leave them with will be a lasting one.
Satisfying your customers’ wants and needs: Any business that wishes to succeed must place a high priority on satisfying customer needs. Every customer comes through your doors for a reason. Finding out what that reason is — understanding what they truly want — and fulfilling it will lead to lasting customer satisfaction.
In return, they’ll come back for more and tell others about their wonderful experiences.
Giving your customers a great feeling: Ideally, every business owner and team member wants their customers to leave feeling not only satisfied, but also better than when they arrived. Ultimately, it’s the feeling you give your customers that matters most. When people leave your business feeling better, you’ve added value to their lives. And value (receiving a quality experience, not just a good price) is what they seek.
All of us have our favorite places to do business, and the reasons are obvious. These companies constitute the exception to the rule and have set themselves apart by going above and beyond in satisfying us. They truly care about the people who make their success possible.
Make it a priority — on your own or with the assistance of a professional consultant — to uncover your potential. Commit to operating a business that consistently delivers on the basics. Do it with integrity and gratitude. Because without satisfied customers, there is no business success.