There are a number of things you can do that cost nothing but offer your customers satisfaction, reassurance, and acknowledgement.
1. Keep your customers informed
This is such an obvious thing to suggest, but so many companies simply do not do it — or do it properly.
Whether it’s letting your customers know your back-order product is in stock, or that product they’d asked about is available or their purchase is on its way, this goes a long way to improving customer satisfaction.
For example, my server host company sends an invoice on the 12th of the month for direct debit from my business account on the 26th. This month, I noticed that the price had gone up by about $15. In the three years I have been a customer, the monthly rate has risen by over $50.
Not once have they let me know in advance about the impending rate rise. I would have appreciated an email about it without the company automatically assuming I’m happy to wear another price increase.
2. Keep your customers feeling valued
The same server host company has never offered me any sort of “Thank you for your business” discount, no option to pay a year in advance for a discount, no promotion towards buying and securing new domain names, which I buy elsewhere, nor any kind of incentive towards referring new clients seeking a server host.
If I had the time to find a replacement company, I would. They have never even sent me a customer satisfaction survey, so they have no idea.
3. Make your order easy to see in their inbox
Last week I was frantically busy with Valentine’s Day orders but ordered some jeans and t-shirts online for my niece’s birthday. This morning, I was worried that the parcel had not yet arrived in time.
I had a mental blank what website I had bought the clothing from. It was only by checking my credit card statement for the mystery purchase I could locate the shop name and then start searching in my inbox.
To my embarrassment, I had chosen a pick-up in-store option for the next day so it was still waiting for me at a shop nearby.
I didn’t notice it in my inbox because the subject title was simply “Tax Invoice – 193335,” not something like, “Thank you for your order from [shop name],” which would have caught my attention.
4. Alert your customers about looking in their inbox
I still wonder how long it would have taken until they rang me about my purchase and of course, I would be annoyed with the store, not realizing it was entirely my fault. Customers always see it as the merchant’s fault, and after having an unhappy experience will avoid shopping there again.
Last week I saw on a club membership website an urgent update from an Australian cinema chain. Hundreds of customers had been bitterly contacting their customer service wanting to know where their discounted movie tickets were. These customers were unlucky enough to use Hotmail as their email address and since Hotmail has become ultra-vigilant against spam, none of the legitimate emails from Hoyts, the cinema chain, were coming through.
Do your customers use certain email providers or handles — i.e., “info@” — that could create more queries or complaints? You may want to place a note next to the email field on your ordering page to avoid customer service issues.
5. Remind customers to redeem their vouchers
Have you ever forgotten or failed to redeem a voucher and then it has expired so the store won’t honor it?
In response to a competition last year where they won a voucher, some of my customers had not yet redeemed their vouchers with my store. I made sure the vouchers had no expiry dates so customers wouldn’t face disappointment if they took a while to redeem them.
When I reminded them again last week they could still use their vouchers towards gifts for Valentine’s Day, a couple of them emailed me how pleased they were I took the time to remind them as they had assumed they would have expired by now.
6. Ask your biggest customers for their input on potential products and services
People feel more connected to a product when they have had some say in its creation, delivery, or terms. A/B testing with the general population is fine, but why not ask your best customers — the ones who buy the most from you — what they prefer? They appreciate being asked, and if it appeals to them, they’re more likely to buy it.
You may want to offer them a exclusive trial offer while you tease out any bugs in the systems. Existing, loyal customers are more likely to be forgiving of newer glitches while new potential customers won’t give you that chance.
7. Tell customers when you’ve implemented their suggestions
Customers who complain are gold. They are passionate enough about their purchases to complain about your product or service — and, as we all know, most don’t bother. When you let them know you’ve implemented their suggestions, they feel they’re being taken seriously. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
One of my most loyal customers let me know last week she couldn’t make an order and when I discovered she was using Internet Explorer 7 from her government department job, made sure the web guys resolved the issue, and told her. I was prepared to produce the order for her but she returned to buy it because I’d sent her an update.
What improvements have you made to your products or website thanks to a customer’s suggestion or tip that you could share with them?