In his blog, author and speaker Dennis Snow shares 7 easy steps to make our customers feel valued:
Aren’t you tired of receiving sales and marketing letters that start with, “Dear Valued Customer…”? Most (all) of these letters go on to demonstrate that rather than being valued, you’re really a faceless, nameless entity in a long, long line of faceless and nameless entities. In order for me to feel valued as your customer, I have to feel that you see me as an individual. I have to feel that you’re glad I’m a customer. And most importantly, I have to feel that you actually care about helping me.
Following is a list of actions that make me feel valued as a customer. Depending on your organization and industry, you’ll likely have to adapt the specific actions to the specifics of your situation; but the principles should apply no matter the organization or industry.
1. Acknowledge my presence
Even if you’re with another customer, at least give me a signal that you know I’m there. Eye contact and a smile is all it takes. Let me know that I’m more important than your paperwork or shelf stocking, and definitely let me know that I’m more important than chatting with your colleague.
Keep in mind that I know that you know I’m there. But when you don’t acknowledge my presence, you’re telling me that you don’t care that I’m there.
2. Remember something about me
When you remember my name or what I ordered the last time or the name of my kids or anything about me, you’ve paid me the ultimate compliment. You said I’m worth remembering and I just love that.
3. Share a tip or secret
Most of the time, you know more about your products and services than I do. You know how I can avoid the same problem in the future, or how to get the product to do things I’ve never dreamed of.
When you give me that, “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that!” feeling, you’ve made me a friend for life. Especially when I feel equipped to dazzle my friends and colleagues with my new found knowledge!
4. Do something unexpected
When I make a significant purchase or go through an important event (like surgery), a follow-up call, email, or handwritten note communicates that you’re thinking about me, and at least for the moment you’re creating good vibes.
Forwarding a news article that’s pertinent to me or to my business lets me know that you don’t just think about me when I’m spending money with you, you’ve got my best interests in mind. Knowing that you’re looking out for me puts you on a whole new level of favorite organizations.
5. Return phone calls and emails immediately
Few actions more accurately demonstrate how important you think I am than how quickly or slowly you get back to me. That return call or email response that comes minutes (or even seconds) after I left the message tells me that you respect me enough to show a sense of urgency. One of the greatest loyalty-building statements your customers can say is, “Wow! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!”
6. Help me maintain my dignity
There are a lot of things I think I know and don’t, or I know just enough to do some real damage. Then there are many, many things that I know I don’t know. But you’ll never win by making me feel stupid. When I feel stupid or embarrassed, I just want the interaction to end; which isn’t a very good customer loyalty strategy.
Yes, save me from myself, but keep my dignity intact. The most skillful service providers gently nudge the clueless in the right direction (see Tip #3), while always respecting the customer. The very best service providers sometimes make the right solution look like the customer’s idea in the first place, complimenting them on their fine judgment. However you do it, making me feel good about myself makes me want to see you again.
7. Respect my time
An inevitable result of an organization’s inefficiency, poor processes, or carelessness is wasted time for me as your customer. And time is the only resource I can never get back. So, when I have to explain my problem each time my call is transferred, my life gets a bit shorter. When I’m in a checkout line with twelve customers, and only two of ten checkout lines are open, my life gets a bit shorter. When I’m sitting in the waiting room and no one mentions the doctor is running thirty-minutes behind (allowing me to decide whether or not to reschedule), my life gets a bit shorter.
On the other hand, whenever you do something that saves me time, or helps me to manage my time, you’ve separated your organization from just about every other one out there. My new favorite example comes from Seasons 52 Restaurant of Orlando, which I’ve mentioned many times in this blog. As you finish up dessert, you press a button on a tiny remote control provided by the valet, and they bring around your car so it’s ready and waiting as you exit the restaurant. Beautiful!