I don’t know about you, but I don’t want satisfied customers. And you shouldn’t either.
Customers who are “satisfied” don’t go around telling their friends about you. Customers who are “satisfied” aren’t going to be great references for your company. And they’re certainly not going to go out of their way to help you.
You don’t want satisfied customers. You want delighted customers.
Delighted customers post positive things about you to social media. They do video testimonials. They’ll hop on the phone with a prospective customer and tell them why you’re amazing.
You need to delight customers not just to survive as a business, but to grow your business — which is why having customer advocates is critical. Make a customer happy, and she won’t stop talking about you. She’s going to take you with her to every company she goes to. What you’ve done is turn that customer into an advocate.
Imagine all that value.
The more advocates you have, the less you need to spend on marketing — because now that customer (and people like her) are out there marketing on your behalf. They’re also selling on your behalf, promoting your company, and advocating your product and service. That’s how businesses grow.
So, how do you delight customers?
1) Make a deliberate decision that you want to delight customers.
And then communicate that to the entire company. Repeatedly.
This starts at the top. When your leadership team needs to set the tone for a company culture that values exceptional customer service, it’ll infiltrate your entire organization. Everyone at the company is involving in delivering customers the whole package. And that’s what humans crave: that total experience.
Some of the most successful businesses have exceptional customer service written right into their mission statements. Nordstrom, for instance, has made customer service its strongest selling point. They vow to work “relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.” While they value quality and selection, their primary focus is on customer “delightion.”
2) Treat every customer like they’re your most valuable customer.
A lot of people ask me how to measure who your most valuable customers are. It turns out your most valuable customers are not the ones who spend the most; they’re the ones who sell the most.
So stop talking about revenue as if it’s the only way to measure a customer’s value.
How much they fork over becomes irrelevant if they’re out there promoting you.As an advocate, their value might be exponentially greater than their individual contribution to your MRR.
Forget about Customer Lifetime Value: Promoter Lifetime Value matters a lot more. Humans don’t buy from companies; humans buy from humans — and humans more likely to buy from you if they hear about how great you are from other humans.
3) Reflect on times other companies have delighted you.
We’re all customers of someone. Think back on the times you’ve been a customer recently. Have you ever been delighted?
If you were, chances are the company somehow surprised you in a positive way. Maybe it was an immediate response to a tweet you posted. Or perhaps it was just someone that took such pride in their work that you couldn’t help but be impressed.
Make a list of these “moments of delightion” that you’ve experienced. What are the things your company could do to recreate these kinds of moments more often with your own customers?
It’s often attention to detail that makes the difference between mediocre customer service and excellent customer service. Keep that in mind when you make your list.
4) Harness the power of word-of-mouth using social media.
Social media is where a whole lot of your customers are going to tell friends about their experiences, both positive and negative.
Too many businesses think about social media solely as a place for responding to complaints and resolving issues. That’s the glass-half-empty approach. Turns out it’s even better for building the one-on-one relationships your customers crave — and, frankly, expect — in today’s age of instant gratification.
Social media can be the most effective and least expensive ways to delight your customers when you use it right. So encourage customers to talk about and engage with your brand publicly, whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn groups, or somewhere else your customers spend their time online.
When Gary Vaynerchuk — who grew his family wine business from a $3M to a $60M business in the first five years — first started using Twitter, no one knew who he was. He built his brand from scratch in part by using Twitter to start and join conversations about wine. How? By searching for people who were asking questions, and answering them as if he were answering a friend.
He actually attributes the success of his now-popular company not to the videos he posted, but to the hours he spent talking to people online afterward.
When you spend time and money on social media, Gary says, you aren’t investing in a platform. You’re investing in consumers who can ultimately become your advocates. What pays off most is your willingness to show people you know what you’re talking about and you actually care about them as humans.
5) Use self-service customer service channels.
Educated customers are happy and successful customers. Along with providing live support with phone, email, social media, and other channels, delight your customers by making it as easy and natural as possible for customers to find answers to their questions and problems right on your website.
These additional channels might include a FAQ page, a blog, a YouTube channel with training videos, and/or a resource center. While online resources like this help your website rank higher in search. But more importantly, they’re a way tosolve for the customer.
Solve for their happiness by making finding the answer to their question easy, fast, and free. Solve for their success by educating them and empowering them.
6) Give your employees the autonomy they need to delight customers.
Chances are, most of your opportunities to delight customers won’t come from your executives. They’ll come from your front-line employees — the ones who interact with your customers on a daily basis. To increase the chances that your people capitalize on the opportunities to delight, you have to give them the autonomy to do so.
This means hiring fantastic people and then trusting them with a fair amount of freedom. Give them the leeway to do things for customers that’ll help get your company remembered in a positive way. Cut out the rules that require them to check in with a manager to extend a special gesture they think is warranted.
If your employees aren’t comfortable thinking and acting outside of the box, then they’ll give customers mediocre experiences. Mediocre experiences don’t stand out, and they don’t create advocates. And that’s not good enough.
Most of you have caught wind of the exceptional customer service at Zappos. Their employees are willing to — and are allowed to — go to such lengths to delight their customers, there are stories about them all over the news.
Like that time an employee spent almost 10 hours on the phone with a customer talking about life, movies, and favorite foods. Afterward, that employee said, “Sometimes people just need to talk. We don’t judge; we just want to help.” The call did end up in a sale — but even if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s the dedication to customer service that matters — and that’s something that’ll be remembered.
7) Support and delight your own employees.
Competitors can replicate your product, but they can’t replicate your people. Employees who are happy at work will develop a commitment to excellent customer service.
To make your employees happy, you need to cultivate an employee-centered company culture right from the top of your organization. Make dialogue, communication, and openness an everyday practice on every level.
While perks like ping pong tables and beer fridges are great you don’t need them to make your employees happy. It all boils down to:
- Treating your employees like adults by trusting them, giving them autonomy, and communicating with them like partners.
- Caring about their needs — monetarily, personally, and professionally — and make them feel like you’re adequately meeting those needs.
How do companies with small budgets make it work? One memorable storyinvolves an employee at a five-person content marketing agency who was due to have her baby during the agency’s busiest month of the year. Instead of denying her unpaid leave (which would have been legal at the time because her company was so small), the team leaders took the time to map out a budget for covering her time away, including hiring freelancers to cover some of her work.
As a result, they could offer her seven weeks of fully paid maternity leave in addition to several weeks of part-time work at her full salary both before and after her leave.
Supporting your employees like this will not only increase employee retention, it’ll keep them highly engaged at work — which will translate into higher customer retention, too.
It’s about being loveable.
People like buying things from and advocating for people they like. It’s just human nature. To turn your customers into advocates, they’ll need to love you first.
But as we all know, love doesn’t come easy. To get customers to love you, you need to delight them with positive and surprising gestures, politeness, honesty, authenticity, good listening, and great storytelling.
The key is consistency.
Love and loyalty is hard-won. It can easily be broken down by a bad experience. That’s why strong customer relationships are built with consistency. Solve for customers’ happiness and success by applying these principles — and do it every single time.
The devil’s in the details, but when you do it right, you’ll serve your customer’s interests — and in turn, your company’s own long-term interests.