Do you ever have clients placing an order for your products or services only to cancel a while later? There may be a very good reason why.
Yes, that simple act of keeping in touch and letting them know what is happening behind the scenes can make the difference between a happy customer and one who gets fed up thinking they have been forgotten and decides to take their business elsewhere.
There is no better example of this than when I ran my estate agents. Other agents were getting complaints and clients cancelling all the time to switch and coming to me. My clients stayed with me and the business was built on word of mouth recommendations.
Because I kept in touch. I put myself in their shoes and kept in mind how they might be feeling. Whilst my team were busy behind the scenes calling people about their property to book viewings and chasing surveyors and solicitors when a sale was agreed, the homeowner had no idea this was going on. All they had from other agents was silence. I made sure that every one of my clients had a call to update them every single week, even if there was nothing new to say. It made them feel important. They knew exactly what was going on and appreciated the call.
Yes, it took time and effort but the fact that my estate agency soared whilst others were struggling spoke volumes.
The key to stop clients cancelling
Take a moment to think how often you keep in contact with your clients. Are you busy working behind the scenes on the behalf putting together their order or working on a project for them? Do they know this? Are you updating them? If not, then perhaps it’s time to think again about your communication policy. Set up a simple database such as CapsuleCRM to keep in contact with everyone and see how much they appreciate it. This simple step really could be the key to stopping your clients cancelling and going elsewhere.
Just to finish, here are two current examples. Just this morning I have cancelled an order with a local company for having a sign made as they simply have not kept in contact with me and not sent information to me as promised. I have chased them no less than three times and yet they have still failed to keep in contact, and I am now fed up. I have now contacted another company and transferred my order to them.
The other example is with my husband’s laptop which stopped working whilst under guarantee. We took it back to the shop where it was purchased and they promised to fix it asap. That was six weeks ago!!! My husband has called on a number of occasions to get updates and then called again this morning. They said it was fixed and had been posted back. If this company had kept us updated and even let us know it was fixed and on the way back, we may have bought from them again. As they couldn’t be bothered to keep in touch, we have both said we will never buy from them again (and will tell others not to!)
Communication is key
Remember, whatever you do, don’t forget communication is key. If you don’t keep in contact with your prospects and clients, don’t be surprised when they go and buy elsewhere.
Do you know that one of the best ways to delight and surprise your clients and build raving fans for your business is to do something unexpected to thank them for their business and make them feel appreciated?
However, very few businesses think about thanking their customers for their business. Even fewer actually find original ways to do so.
One of the simplest and best ways to do this is to send them a surprise in the post. In this world of online technology, receiving something as simple as a handwritten note will make you stand out from the crowd and get you noticed.
Your clients will appreciate that you have taken a few minutes out of your busy day to think just about them.
And you don’t just have to restrict this sentiment to clients. Why not send something to a prospect that you would like to work with.
How to delight and surprise your clients
It doesn’t have to be expensive to send something personal in the post. After all, remember the adage that ‘it’s the thought that counts’.
Take a look through the following list to get some ideas flowing:
- You could simply buy a pack of plain note cards and write a personal message to them.
- Or buy packs of postcards with motivational quotes on the front and pop a handwritten note on the back.
- If you see an article in a magazine that is relevant, how about cutting it out and sending to them – so much more effective than sending a link to an online article via email.
- Consider getting some personalised bookmarks printed up with your branding and sending those out as gifts.
- Think about sending a voucher to spend with your business. If you are a masseur, hairdresser or provide products, a voucher is easy. If you are a coach or consultant, create a voucher to redeem for a free 30-minute session with you.
- Do you have a client that you suspect is feeling tired or overwhelmed? Why not pin a tea bag to a short note telling them to take 5 mins out on you and sit down with a cuppa? Guaranteed to make them laugh, feel loved and remember you!
- Or how about sending a small (or large) chocolate bar to give them a treat?
- For long-standing and valued clients, send a beautiful notebook
- Or an inspirational book of your choosing
- Or a gift card ……
These things are inexpensive yet will help build relationships that will generate you much more money in the future through clients who feel nurtured and valued and who will stay loyal to you. Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable. It has to be special and feel personal.
What ideas do you have to delight and surprise your clients in unexpected ways? Let me know in the comments below.
Have you ever had a complaint on social media?
Today, more and more people take to social media to make a complaint. But there is such a huge difference in how businesses deal with these complaints.
If you get a complaint on social media, do you want to keep that client who complains (and create a raving superfan for your business) or just get rid of them (and take others with them)?
Things go wrong. If they don’t, you probably aren’t that busy or aren’t trying hard enough.
[Tweet “Things go wrong. If they don’t, you probably aren’t that busy or aren’t trying hard enough.”]
And this past week two retail giants had major problems. Their websites broke! Sainsbury’s was online but whatever search went in ended in ‘no results’ available. Boots UK site was completely down and simply couldn’t be accessed.
Sod’s law dictated these problems happened on the very day that I was trying to do some online ordering. After numerous frustrated attempts to order what I wanted, I gave up and took to Twitter to ask when they would have their problems rectified.
Within minutes of my tweet to Sainsbury’s, they responded to say they had checked and yes, there was a problem and would report back to me. In a short while, they tweeted me again to say they were doing their best to rectify the problem and would I bear with them and try to order in a few hours time.
Boots? The silence was deafening! No response at all.
Later that evening Sainsbury’s asked if I would send them a contact number so they could speak to me direct. I duly sent this and they called me to say the site was back up and had I managed to place my order. I told them that I hadn’t placed my order as time had run out and I had gone elsewhere. They apologised profusely for the inconvenience caused, told me how much they valued my custom and immediately sent me an e-voucher.
I was impressed.
Boots? After sending a second tweet they responded 48 hours later to say their site had only been down for one hour. Utter rubbish, it was down for over 6 hours! And no further correspondence was had from them.
So what can you learn from these two companies and the way they handled a problem? As I am sure you can guess, it’s not rocket science.
What to do when you get a complaint on social media
If you get a complaint or a client/customer flags up a problem try the following:
- Immediately acknowledge there is a problem and it will be looked into
- Ask for contact details to take the complaint off line
- Inform the client of when they can expect a response
- Let them know what went wrong and what has been done to rectify the problem
- If you and your business were not at fault, there has still been a misunderstanding of some sort so acknowledge this and look into ways of ensuring the misunderstanding or problem does not happen again
- Let them know how much you value their custom and apologise for inconvenience caused
- Go over and above to make them feel special and offer them a freebie/voucher or similar to show you genuinely care
This is an effective way of regaining trust and credibility with the client and retaining their custom.
It is also possible they will be so impressed that they will turn back to social media to say how impressed they were with how your problem was handled, raising awareness of your business to others.
What not to do when you get a complaint on social media:
- Ignore them
- Deny there was a problem – this is basically calling them a liar – not recommended as insult will be taken
- Get into a public argument
- Do absolutely nothing to let them know you value their custom
If you do the above, you are most likely to lose their custom forever (there are plenty of other places to buy the same products and services from).
It is also quite probable that the client will take to social media to highlight your poor attitude giving a bad impression of your business to others who may have been thinking of buying from you and will now go look elsewhere.
Create a customer care policy
If you don’t have a customer care policy in place, go create one now. It doesn’t matter if you are a one woman band or a multi-million corporation. The principle is exactly the same.
Hopefully, you will never have to use it but as the boy scouts famously state, it is always good to be prepared.
How do you handle your customer complaints?
Recently I had reason to lodge a customer complaint against one of my suppliers. I had ordered a box of A4 paper which did not arrive on time. I duly sent off an email and said the order had not been received. I got a response almost immediately saying that the matter would be looked in to.
After a few more days with no further correspondence I sent another email in a rather more abrupt manner letting the supplier know how let down I felt and that I would no longer use their services in the future.
From past experience I expected a refund and that would be the end of the matter.
What I got was very much different. I had an email explaining how they had changed courier services and had been badly let down by this new company which had then impacted upon their own customers. They explained how much they valued my custom and were incredibly sorry that this had happened. In a clear but concise manner the person on the end of the email told me what a nightmare they were in trying to sort out this mess but as I had been so let down, they would issue an immediate refund but would still send my order out for free. They admitted they had received quite a few other customer complaints and were doing their best to rectify the matter and regain trust.
What made this response different to most of the standard ones I get and why was I so impressed?
Firstly, they put their hands up and admitted things had gone wrong. This is so different to a recent response I had from British Airways after an appalling flight when they basically refused to admit anything was wrong.
Secondly, this was not an automated response. This came from an individual who genuinely seemed to care. They let me know how they were feeling personally in such a way that I instantly had empathy for their situation.
By not only issuing me a full refund but also still sending me the order free of charge, I regained my trust in them and will now stay with them as a future customer. If I had simply been given a refund, I would not have ordered from them again. They showed me that they valued my custom.
All too many companies hate complaints so much that they just get rid of the complainant as quickly as possible by sending a refund and not thinking of the bigger picture. This company went out of their way to ensure I felt valued and to show they genuinely felt remorse for the problem.
If you get a customer complaint in the future take a leaf out of this company’s book and see how you can go over and above what is expected of you to gain a loyal future customer.
Have you ever had to decline a customer request?
How do you respond when someone makes a request that is not normally something that you do? Do you instantly say no, not possible? Or do you take a moment to consider whether it is something that you would consider helping them with?
Rather than just saying no, consider saying that you will look into it for them and get back with a response at a later time. This has two benefits.
The first is that you show them respect for their request by not dismissing them instantly. This can have a far better lasting impression than a straight out no that leaves them unsure of where to go or what to do next.
Too many businesses refuse to stray from the straight and narrow and therefore miss opportunities that are lying right under their noses. They are too quick to say no, we don’t do that and leave the enquirer feeling dismissed with care and consideration.
[Tweet “Too many businesses refuse to stray from the straight & narrow & therefore miss opportunities that are lying right under their noses”]
Even if you decide that the request is not something that you can deal with, you can go back and let the person know that you have taken the time to consider it, but it is not something that you can personally help with.
It may, however, be the case that you can refer them on to someone else who can help. This provides value to the person and also to any businesses that receive a referral, all of whom may remember you for your help in the future and feel the need to repay the compliment. There may even be an opportunity for starting up collaborative working with another business that will pay future dividends to you both.
[Tweet “Look for opportunities to work collaboratively with other businesses that will pay dividends for both of you”]
The second benefit is that by considering requests that are outside of your normal remit gives you an opportunity to consider whether it is something that you could actually incorporate as a product or service into your business. This could become another revenue stream that you had not previously thought of.
We get all too caught up with our day to day running of our businesses and can sometimes not see the wood for the trees. By listening to requests, and dealing with them in the appropriate manner, we can find opportunities that may have otherwise passed us by.
Next time you get a request for something that you don’t currently offer, rather than instantly decline a customer, stop and think for a moment as to how you can turn it into a future opportunity for your business whilst providing great customer service at the same time.
I believe I have found a way for you to beat your competitors in a guaranteed way. This is just by delivering what you promise to do. Simples!!
I never cease to be amazed by the appalling service that so many companies still think is acceptable.
Just this past week I have encountered the following:
Laura Ashley promising delivery within 3 working days and yet 10 days later still no order received. Their customer service is non-existent with emails being ignored and a wholly incompetent customer service representative on the other end of the phone when I eventually got through.
I have booked flights with British Airways and encountered numerous problems on their site when trying to enter Advanced Passenger Information and reserve seats. Again, emails ignored until I took to social media. I then get an email telling me to follow the links on the website. But they don’t work! This was followed by no less than 8 failed attempts to speak to them by phone as after following the automated service it either went to a constantly engaged tone or cut off altogether.
I went to enquire about a new car from Nissan only for the salesperson to say he would email what they had and the prices. Why? I was there in the showroom potentially ready to buy. Was it because I was a lone woman and he didn’t believe I was serious without a man by my side? I emailed Nissan to complain about his attitude, got an automated response saying someone would be in touch within 48 hours and never heard from them again. Appalling!
Finally, a dodgy estate agent who is lazy beyond belief waits until the last minute to negotiate with the vendor on items he promised to do on day one. He then uses the cop out line that the vendors have changed their mind. I have reason to believe he lied through his teeth to get the sale and was just too incompetent to do his job properly. Suffice to say, when I come to sell in the future, this agent will be last on my list.
All of these instances I wish I could say were rare but are unfortunately all too common. Tradesmen who don’t return calls, or who come and give an estimate never to be seen again. If they don’t want the work, just say so. Cleaners who come to the office full of promises of how good they are only to leave a half done job that has to be redone. Financial advisors who promise information to be sent only for them to have to be chased continuously.
So if you want to beat your competitors hands down, try focusing on customer service. At the very least do what you say you will. And if you can go the extra mile, I bet those customers will be so impressed they will come back to you time and time again.
I am now going to start noting good and bad customer service and writing about examples of these. If you have any of your own that you would like to share, please pop over and add them on the Facebook page.