Many local businesses are content if their customers seem “generally satisfied” overall. Others aspire to something more – they seek the kind of passionate customer satisfaction that inspires glowing “thank you” letters and backyard-fence comments like “My plumber (or dry cleaner, pet groomer, dentist, insurance agent, hair salon, etc.) is really great! I highly recommend them.”
If you suspect customers aren’t quite feeling that kind of love for your business, you’ve probably got some work to do. In a sense, customers who aren’t wholeheartedly with you might as well be against you. Customers who lack the love factor can actually be more damaging to your business than those who do business with your competitors.
That’s because people who aren’t yet customers of yours might at least try you out in the future. But those who are blasé about your business have already tried out your product or service and found you lacking in some respect. That’s not good.
Here are things that will help customers find the love:
• End the obstacle course. Take the initiative to find out when customers need (or will soon need) service or help – before they have to ask. The magical customer-service moment is when your call, email or postcard offering help arrives at the precise moment the customer needs it. Meanwhile, make it clear to each and every customer exactly how they can get service or help from your business when they need it – including a name and contact information.
• Avoid customer hot potato. Whenever possible, the person who speaks to a customer first should “own” that customer for the duration of their visit. Companies send signals of disrespect by passing off a customer to “someone who can better help you with your problem.” Yeah, right.
• Streamline your website. Many small-business websites seem cobbled together – a collection of different areas with different terminology and logic for getting around. Figure out one look and message you want to send, and stick with that.
• Fix (for real) the big issues bugging your customers. Millions of businesses ask, ever so thoughtfully, “How can we improve?” That’s good. But how many really listen and act on what they hear? Customers read inaction as lack of caring and won’t bother to respond the next time you ask. A business that makes changes based on what it hears from customers earns more love.
• Invest in customer loyalty. Customers have had it with loyalty programs that are just too much work or offer skimpy benefits. Try offering customers something without them having to ask or pay extra for it. •
Daniel Kehrer can be reached at