Business tools and tactics for the new year.
With all the focus on how AI, data, personalization and more can create a better customer experience, I thought it might be fun to go back to some basics and look at different ways we can connect and build better relationships with our customers. These are very tactical. Find one or two that you like and work them into your process. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the little things add up to increase your customer satisfaction, NPS scores and, more importantly, your bottom line.
1. Stay in touch. This one should be obvious. Don’t forget your “sold” customers. Stay in touch on a (somewhat) regular basis. Depending on the type of business, it may be as infrequent as once a year.
2. Use video. Video is an amazing tool. It’s inexpensive and can often be posted for free. Use it for online tutorials, a video version of Frequently Asked Questions and more. Check out this recent Forbes article on using video.
3. Send a thank-you note. Make it the old-fashioned kind – handwritten in an envelope with an address and a stamp. You’d be surprised how many people will be delighted when they receive your note.
4. Celebrate National Customer Service Week (the first full week of October). You’ll have to wait until next October, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. For more information, go to the official website for National Customer Service Week.
5. Do something special for Get to Know Your Customer Days. These days happen four times a year, on the third Thursday of January, April, July and October. For more information, go to www.GetToKnowYourCustomerDay.com.
6. Deliver “freaky fast” response times. Jimmy John’s, the fast-food chain known for “freaky fast” service and delivery, knows how much customers appreciate a speedy service experience. Find ways to be freaky fast for your customers.
7. Eliminate long hold times. Don’t waste your customers’ time. If you must make them wait, let them know for how long and give them the option to be called back.
8. Call the customer instead of making them call you for appointments. It’s one less thing the customer has to do when doing business with you.
9. Send a surprise “gift” when your customers are least expecting it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just a clever “something” that gets you noticed. Everybody sends gifts around the holidays. Find other times to surprise your customers with an unexpected gift.
10. Share content that is all about the customer, not about the company. In other words, it isn’t a sales or marketing piece. Well, actually, it is, but it shouldn’t feel like it.
11. Have a weekly huddle with your team and spend five minutes sharing how someone created a great customer experience that week. Little reminders shared consistently with employees will help keep them motivated and keep customer service front-of-mind.
12. Have a contest to see who can deliver the best experience to an external or internal customer. It’s nice to recognize the best, but the prize should be a random drawing for all those willing to participate. Of course, you should share the best of the best.
13. Have a contest in which everyone submits a creative – even unusual – customer service or experience idea. As above, the prize isn’t about how good the idea is, but about the participation.
14. Have everyone share an example of a great service experience they received from a fellow employee. In this case, it’s better to receive than give. You get to recognize your fellow employees for what they’ve done for you.
15. Be more active on social media. Participate in conversations and become part of the customer community. Important: this isn’t an opportunity to sell. It’s an opportunity to engage. There’s a big difference!
16. Publish a report or white paper that will benefit your customers. Customers love relevant information. This can be a great marketing piece for future customers, too.
17. Ask your customers my favorite question, which I call the One Thing Question: “Is there one thing you can think of that would make doing business with us better?” Read every answer and take action on some of the better ideas. It’s amazing what happens when you listen to your customers!
18. Give back. Become part of a cause or participate in a charity. Customers love it when the companies they do business with give back. It’s good karma!
19. Create your customer service mantra. This is a big one. We often spend a month preparing for a full-day meeting to help our clients create their mantra. For those that don’t have one, the time to create one is now. The mantra is a simple phrase (one sentence or less) that sums up your customer service culture. For example, ours at Shepard Presentations is “Always Be Amazing.” We want to be amazing to our clients and help them be amazing. Our friends at Ace Hardware have a simple one too: “The Helpful Hardware Place.” The Ritz-Carlton’s is a little longer. They call it their credo: “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Once you have your mantra, it’s easy to stay focused on what’s important in delivering an amazing customer service experience.
20. Don’t forget that customer experience starts with employee experience. Remember, what happens on the inside of the organization is felt on the outside by the customer. If you want to have a great customer experience, you must focus on your employee experience.
Happy New Year to all our Forbes readers! May 2020 be your most successful year yet, filled with sales, profits and, of course, amazing customer experiences!