Make your customers your business.
There are dozens of companies providing products and services exactly like yours. So why do people choose one company over another? Clients choosing one company over another is largely determined on how you make them feel. We are experiential driven creatures. Treat your client and customers like they are the only thing in the world and give them a good experience while doing business with you.
Obviously, this should be the standard for any business at any stage, but having good client relations and feedback is especially critical as in the beginning stages of being an entrepreneur.
If there is any thing in world that will grow your business, it is good word of mouth. It’s more important than PR or ads.
When I was doing an internship with the Walt Disney Company, I was amazed how much money people were paying for the hotels, water, and everything else. Was it because of the products, hotels, or rides? To be fair, they are good products and rooms, but there are better hotels and amusement parks, for the money.
So why were people spending that kind of money at Disney, year after year? It was because all the employees at Disney are trained from day one to treat their customers like their best friends.
Why did they did they do that? It’s because they were building up good will, which equals more loyalty and revenues. People talk to each other. That is, clients will tell someone about their good experience with you. That one friend then tells 5 people they know, and those five people then tell five people. We can see this effect in social review sites like Yelp.com how word of mouth is a force multiplier. The flip side is also true. You have one person who is not happy with your service which can have an equally and many times a much more brutal negative effect on your small company.
As a small business, building up good will and a wonderful reputation is a key component of your success.
As simple or rudimentary it seems, here are some ways I have learned about treating your clients well:
1) Always get back in touch with your client quickly! If it’s an email, or text message, or a voice mail, get back with them ASAP. This gives them a feeling that they can count and rely on you and will then turn to you for help or a product.
2) Be happy to hear from your client! Remember, your client is never a chore. Build up that friendliness along with a level of professionalism with your communication. No one wants to feel like a burden, especially if they are paying you money. So put on a smiling voice and put your ‘Warm regards’ salutations at the end of the email. Make them feel special, because they are!
3) Try to put the ball in client’s court as much as possible! If there is something they need, turn it around quickly. Clients waiting for things build up frustration. The faster you get your work done and send back to your client, the better. You should be the one waiting for your client to get back to you.
4) If you make promises, keep them! Nothing is worse for a reputation than promising something, and not keeping it. So you must do your best to keep your deadlines, and any promises you make. It’s easy to over-promise to get the sale. This is a classic mistake that new entrepreneurs make. But if you over-promise, you better double or triple time it to make those promises a reality. Think about what a great reputation it is to be someone or a company that keeps all of it's promises!
5) Be available! Make sure that your clients know that you are available. I am always impressed whenever I call a big company and I get to talk to the person in charge about my issues or needs. If you have a staff, make sure that that they don’t heavily screen all of your calls and please be available to your clients. They will be impressed and happy with you. Of course, have boundaries in that regard, but, if you can be reasonably on call, this is something else that will make you standout from your competitors in your clients’ minds.
Of course there are innumerable other ways to make your client have a great experience with you. But whatever it is, make them feel special and that they have chosen the right company.
Here are some sites or books that have a more in depth look at client experience for further reading:
25 Books on great customer service: http://www.happyfox.com/blog/25-customer-service-books-you-should-read/