By Liz Greene
Acquiring new customers isn’t the easiest of tasks. When a new prospect walks through your door, you only have a 5-20 percent probability of selling to them. However, when an existing customer is the target, the probability of a sale skyrockets to 60-70 percent.
You know what else your existing customers are doing for you? They’re recommending you to friends and family. Word of mouth advertising is a big deal. According to Nielsen, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family.
What this all boils down to is a simple, ongoing goal for your business: turn prospects into customers, and customers into fans. The stronger your relationship is with your customers, the more sales growth you’ll see due to referrals. But how do you build customer loyalty?
By giving them what they want.
Make A Connection
As Dale Carnegie famously pointed out, people like hearing their names. This isn’t just some self-help mumbo jumbo; research has actually proven that unique regions of the brain activate upon hearing one’s own name in relation to the names of others.
When it comes to your customers, not only will they like you more if you call them by name, they will also assume you are more competent. Names are a big part of our identity, so we tend to view people in a better light when they recall our names and use them in conversation. Using your customers’ names when interacting with them directly is one of the easiest ways to make them feel more like individuals and less like a “support ticket.”
If you work on a smaller scale, remember one or two personal details about your frequent customers and bring them up in conversation. These little details give you big opportunities to create personal touches and make your customers feel truly important. By creating these simple connections, your customers will view you as a person who values them as a human being and not as a just another sale.
Show Them You Care
According to a 2010 Customer Experience Report by RightNow, 82 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company as a result of a negative experience. That is a staggering number — especially since effective customer service can turn a complaining customer into a loyal one.
Take time and really listen to your customers when they describe their problem. Apologize for the mistake — but don’t just stop there. Follow through with a resolution in order to make the customer feel heard. After you’ve implemented a solution, follow up with your customer to make sure they are satisfied. You can even go one step further and exceed expectations by providing a discount on their next purchase. This will assure that the next time your customer talks about your business to a friend, they do so in a positive light.
Respect Their Opinions
Customer feedback serves two major purposes. One, it gives you the tools to retain customer loyalty by creating an experience that is better than your competitors. Two, when you ask your customers to provide feedback, you’re communicating that you value their opinion and care about what they have to say — making them feel both important and involved in the shaping of your product.
When you see customer feedback, it’s imperative you respond to it, act based on the data you gather, and let your customers know what’s been done to make their experience better. Your customers expect you to do something with what they have to say — if you don’t, they will cease to give feedback at all.
At the end of the day, all your customers truly want is to be treated as if they matter. By making a personal connection, showing genuine concern in regards to complaints, and recognizing the importance of your customers’ opinions, you’ll find yourself with a healthy group of loyal customers as well as a steady stream of referrals.
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Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.