You’re not special…either is your business.
Yep, that’s right, your business is no longer special. It’s 2017 and every business is now commoditized. What does that mean? That if you don’t keep your customers happy, somebody else will.
Your customers have MORE options than ever before. With the power of the internet, customers have options at the tip of their fingers, 24/7, 365.
And you know what else is scary? They have more power than ever. If you aren’t 100% focused on the customer experience, one wrong move can put you on the verge of going out of business. Now, it won’t happen overnight but momentum is a powerful thing…especially in business.
What do I mean? If your customer has a poor experience, the first place they are going is to the internet. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, Google+ or 100 other outlets for the customer to be heard. They’ll let the world know that your business sucks.
You know what else that also means? That you move more opportunity than ever! If your business is rocking and rolling, they’ll also do the same thing. And before you know it, you’re running the best show in town.
So where do we go? It’s actually really simple. If you stay focused on building the strongest CULTURE and BRAND possible, you will win, every day, like clockwork.
That’s it. CULTURE. BRAND.
And how is that done? Also very simple! The biggest shift is going to come with your mindset. A majority of business owners think the business/customer relationship ends once you’ve provided the service that you’re great at.
Ironically, that’s merely the tip of the ice berg.
There are four main areas to focus on…and none of them have to do with the actual service you provide. Because, as we said, that’s a commodity that your customers can get anywhere.
What do you do to set yourself apart? The little things. And it really boils down to that golden rule we were taught many moons ago.
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
It’s really as simple as that. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think how you would want to be treated.
Now, the main reason most businesses don’t do these four things is because there isn’t immediate ROI. It takes time to build that culture and brand. It takes time for your customers to know like and trust you. But all of the sudden you reach that tipping point and the floodgates open.
The four things that you need to focus on to turn your customers into RAVING fans and a free sales force are:
- Customer Service
You know customer’s expectations have dwindled over time when you get a “THANK YOU so much for calling me back” when you call a customer back.
Now, isn’t that backwards?
Someone who calls you, the business owner, looking to give you money, thanks you for calling them back.
HELLO! Shouldn’t the business owner be thanking the customer (or potential customer) for voluntarily calling them to give them money?
Which leads right into our #1 rule with customer service. Respond to ALL customer inquiries by the end of the day!
Pretty simple, right?
But what if you don’t have the answer?
Still respond, it shows that you’re human, you’re trustworthy and that you care. Let them know you’re working on it. Everyone wants to feel important and you can treat your customers like royalty, giving them NO reason to go elsewhere.
But what if your business doesn’t provide the solution to their problem?
Still respond! You never know who they might know and you never know when they might need your service. Your “know, like and trust” factor just went up by about 1000% if you respond to someone, let them know that you can’t help them and that you might know someone else (even a competitor) that might be able to help them.
They will think the world of you.
Which leads us right into point #2, visibility
In order to build that culture and brand with your customers and your community, you need to be visible. If nobody has ever heard of you and you rarely call people back, you’re doing yourself, your employees and your customers a disservice.
When the phone rings, answer it. If it’s during normal business hours.
If you’re like me and time block your day, then set aside 30 minutes twice per day to call back all of your customers.
If it’s not during normal business hours, don’t answer it. Why? You want to train your customers.
Not that long ago, if you left the office, you physically could no longer take work calls…and the world kept on spinning.
You don’t want your customers to get used to texting and calling you at 8pm or 6am. That’s your time – protect it like gold.
After all, our ultimate goal is freedom right?
The second part of being visible is within your industry or niche. Become a leader in that industry so other businesses know who you are.
And, as we mentioned before, if you don’t have the solution for your customer, refer them to somebody who does (as long as you know, like and trust that business).
What about creating a referral program for other businesses in your niche?
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or as they say “what goes around, comes around.”
For example, if your business paints houses, create relationships with carpenters, plumbers, electricians, carpet guys, tile guys, wood floor guys, etc.
It’s not all about you…matter of fact, it’s not about you at all. It’s about serving your customers better than anyone else.
The third and final piece about being visible is all about putting a customer referral program in place for your current customers. Turn them loose and into your sales force.
There’s no better marketing than customer’s referrals. That customer is putting their name on the line and vouching for you to someone they know.
Now, some will do it for free but what if you incentivize them…people LOVE incentives.
It doesn’t have to be fancy and high tech either. Keep it simple!
Share this on social media for a chance to win a free month’s service. Forward this email to a friend and receive 10% off your next service. Share your experience on Yelp, Angie’s List or Facebook for a coupon.
No matter what you give away, it’s still cheaper than going to find new customers on your own…and it will indirectly get your current customers to spend more with you.
Sounds like a win, win, win!
The key to any long-lasting relationship. So simple, yet so hard to do consistently.
Rule #1 in business – build an email list. That is your #1 asset, no ifs ands or buts about it!
If you’re not capturing EVERY customer and potential customer’s email address, make that the first thing you do when you get done reading this.
But how do you do that? There’s 1001 different ways to do it so I won’t bore you with the details. If you can’t find a way to do it, do one of two things:
#1 – Google It (my answer for most questions people ask)
#2 – What would entice you to give a business your email address? A coupon? Free support? Your invoice? Whatever it is, do it…try a bunch of different things and see what works best.
By having an email list of everyone interested in your services, it allows for free marketing, FOR-EV-ER! And is probably the most valuable asset you’ll have when selling your business some day.
So now that you’ve got your list, you need to take care of it. Think of it like a crop. You need to first plant the seed, then you need to water it, fertilize it and do all these other things before it even sprouts.
And then it sprouts! All of that work paid off…but then the real work begins. Keep fertilizing it, watering it, pruning it and taking care of it. Before finally! You have some fruits of your labor.
You do it all again!
Set yourself a schedule to communicate with your list regularly. Whatever that frequency is, do it FOR-EV-ER.
When growing my last business, I started doing this when I had ONE person on my list. But they didn’t know that…for all they knew, I had 10,000.
Now when emailing them, don’t just jam your sales pitch down their throat. You don’t like that as a customer so why should you do it to your customers?
Provide VALUE! No matter your business, keep your list up to date in your industry. If you’re a landscaper, you can relate your material to the seasons and what they need to do when to make sure they have the best lawn on the block.
Include pictures, inspiring stories, challenges and more.
But just don’t be salesy…be authentic. People will spend money with you, trust me!
As you build out your email structures, you can then get into really fun email marketing tactics like behavior-based marketing and automation sequences to then really ramp up your sales.
Now, last but not least, when it comes to communication, what about some old school printed material?
When’s the last time you received a hand-written thank you note from someone that you did business with?
If you can’t remember, think how cool it would be to receive one. Like, woah, these people actually care about me and took the time to show me that!
Or even just a birthday card in the mail.
It’s a friendly, non-salesy way of building that culture and brand to get your customers to #1 spend more money with you and #2 refer you to their friends and family.
It’s just a friendly reminder that you’re still around and waiting to serve them.
And that’s what communication is all about with your customers. Do it better than anyone and do it in a repeatable way so that you can eventually delegate it to someone else. When it’s done the same way every time, it’s easy to delegate! It also sets expectations for your customers.
When they think of your business, they should be able to say without a doubt “they’re ALWAYS so…(fill in the blank of something awesome)”
I can’t tell you how many times customers spent more money with my business (and referred my business) just by doing these things.
Everyone wants to be appreciated, right? Especially if they are giving you money for something!
When’s the last time you did a courtesy call to everyone who has spent money with you in the last two weeks?
Spend 1-3 minutes with each customer and just make sure they are happy with their purchase, if they have any questions or need anything else.
Really, it’s the little things!
I’ve only gotten these calls a few times as a customer but when I do, it shows that they care and appreciate my business.
So, just like everything else we talk about, create a system around this. Every time you finish with a customer, put it in your calendar to call them in two weeks. They’ll be totally surprised and totally appreciative.
And not just for the good things you do. What if they are upset?
Even better! A GREAT opportunity to really show how much you care. If they aren’t happy it’s a good thing you called before they spread the bad word.
It’s also a good thing because it allows you the opportunity to improve your business.
Don’t be so scared of negative feedback. The only way progress has ever been made in this world is by screwing up…think about it! That’s the only way we learn, is by making mistakes.
So we’ve tackled the immediate appreciation as well as the unhappy customers so what about long-term?
Shower your best customers with even more love!
Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a “thank you” gift from a business that you spend $1,000’s of dollars with each year?
BINGO! Take a look at your top customers and send them a little token of appreciation.
It doesn’t have to be big and extravagant…it’s the thought that counts! Simple, right?
A gift basket, a gift card, a bottle of wine, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
But there’s a GREAT chance that this will make a huge impact on your business.
We used to bring Edible Arrangements to every one of our schools (we ran afterschool programs) at the end of each year.
You would have thought we brought them an extra week of vacation!
A simple $50 Edible Arrangement took our business a long way…all of the sudden they are going out of their way to refer you, get you more clients and spend more money with you.
Know who butters your bread. In this case, your customers are the ones buttering your bread and paying your bills so thank them for doing so!
What do you think? Easy, right? You have more opportunity than ever before because 99% of businesses don’t do half of these things.
We ran laps around the competition just by keeping it simple and appreciating our customers with these four principles. Remember, it’s a long-term game as you’re building a BUSINESS. No business was built overnight but consistent, intelligent action will pay off.
As Warren Buffett said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
The best part is that many of these things don’t cost any money. Just an upfront investment of time which you can then eventually delegate as you build your machine.
Ready to keep the momentum going so you can crush CHAOS and achieve the income and freedom you sought when you started your business? Then check out my FREE Master Class: