If You Don’t Love Your Customers – Your Competitors Will

Yesterday I decided to take my Shine A Light Challenge to the streets. Armed with my Sharpie and some sticky notes, I created a couple of messages reminding and encouraging people to Shine A Light on others. The project ended up being much more fun than I expected and I had several very interesting conversations. (more on that later)

In one of my stops yesterday, I was “caught in the act” by the manager of the establishment. She smiled and commented on what a great idea this is and we spoke briefly about who she would shine a light on and why. And then she said: “Can I ask you a question?”

Me: “Of course!”

Her: “Do you have any simple, and very practical advice on how I can honor or inspire my customers? I’m new here and just learning the ropes and I am concerned we are missing some opportunities to really show some love to our customers. And honestly…the simpler the better!”

I smiled and asked her a few more questions. The net result was that we both agreed that based on her business and her customer base that if she crafted plan of attack around these seven ideas she could significantly move the needle of her customer loyalty. Our seven ideas might just help you as well:

1. Let your customers (and while you are at  it- your employees, vendors, yes -even your family and friends) know that you appreciate them. Often people think that the other already knows – however a few kinds words are always appreciated and go a long way.

2. Personalize all of your touch points. No one wants to engage a bot. Problems or customer service issues will crop up from time to time, rather than define a script and measure your staff by how well they stick to it – empower them, encourage them to respond professionally but in a personal manner.

3. Accept criticism graciously and respond kindly. Customer criticism should not be taken lightly and often presents precious information and data. Step back from the emotion that may accompany that criticism and use this as an opportunity to gain real insights into how you can improve things.

4. Seek their opinion. The best actionable innovative ideas do not always come from the inside. Your best customers many times will know your product or service as well if not better than you. Keeping your customers actively engaged increases loyalty and generates evangelists. Who doesn’t want to be an insider?

5. Reward loyalty or better yet engagement. Everyone loves a reward it’s just that simple. Rewards do not  have to be expensive or elaborate – the simplest of gestures will often times be embraced by your customers who will then share that story with their friends.

6. Invite them to participate in a case study, even post on your blog, or become a customer advocate. Simple easy acts of engagement breed evangelists and long term loyalty.

7. Create an irresistible environment. This is one point I am very passionate about, I even wrote an entire post on this point. Make your interactions/environments/engagements relational, relevant and provide reference.

One of the very best ways I know to grow your brand awareness and revenues is to serve your customers well. It’s an old adage but it still holds true today especially in this economy and that is “people do business with people they like.” Some times the simplest strategy and tactics are just that simple and easy.

I’m curious what steps have you taken to honor your customers?

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