It’s not enough to convince customers to return to your site or buy your product more than once. If you really want to take your company to the next level, you need to convert a customer into a fan. Fan, meaning fanatic. Because ultimately, for startups, those fans are your best marketing tool at the early stages and even later in the game. Fans beget more fans, and that creates very profitable revenue. Fans are the absolute key to scaling a new business.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Providing great product experiences and customer service is a fairly obvious goal, but it’s not always as simple as you might think to execute. Roadblocks can pop up along the way to create barriers between your customers and the great service you want to provide. If you don’t find a way to overcome these barriers, however, you’ll never turn a customer into a lifelong fan.
According to a 2013 study by Dimensional Research for Zendesk, 42 percent of customers purchased more after enjoying a great customer service experience. Indeed, one great customer service experience can actually go a long way: the same study found 87 percent of customers share a great service experience with their networks. On the flip side, a negative experience can be extremely damaging, since a whopping 95 percent of customers share bad experiences with their circle.
In today’s social media world, one bad experience can now have a much further reach than ever before, as can the flip side. If you want to turn customers into fans, you have to be obsessive about creating the best product experience and customer service team (in addition to policy and culture) possible.
Here are some ways to leave such an impression and transform buyers into lifelong fans:
Super Responsive Customer Service
Customers want their questions and concerns answered right now, not tomorrow or even an hour from now. The best way to make customers sit up and say, “Wow” is to provide fast and immediate customer service. According to a survey by Forrester, 71 percent of respondents said valuing customers’ time was the most important thing a company could do.
Make sure your customer service is nimble and agile. If support reps don’t have the answer, avoid bouncing the customer around to multiple people. Keep one person as the point-of-contact so customers have a more human and personal customer service experience. If customers feel like your company really cares, they’ll pass the message along. And always strive to get back as quickly as is possible. At The Bouqs Co, we focus our service on digital channels to ensure a rapid response for every client, rather than creating long phone queues. Think about ways that you can manage quick responses at scale, and leverage those to create rapid-fire responses to any client inquiries.
Make Customer Service 24/7
Part of speeding up the customer service process is ensuring there is always someone on deck to address customer problems and complaints. This means having workers to cover nights and weekends as well as regular working hours. While working a night, weekend or holiday isn’t always highest on your team’s priority list, finding a team, process or technology that can make it a reality will go a long way with your clients. They’ll know you care enough to work those days, which means they’ll care about you in return.
Make Social Media a Big Part of Your Engagement Plan
I devote the first hours of my workday at TheBouqs.com to looking through customer service logs and checking out social channels like Facebook and Twitter. It’s important to know what customers are talking about, what their pain points are, and how the company can better address our customers’ needs.
Social media in particular is a free feedback loop, showing what your company is doing right, why customers love your service, and what you need to improve. Reaching out on social media is also a great way to engage with customers, show them a little love, and have fun with your company. A mention, response, or retweet has the power to transform your brand and turn your audience into loyal fans.
Be Honest in Your Marketing
Before putting together your marketing campaign, make sure you haven’t fudged the truth in the interest of looking more exciting or impressive. This is sure to backfire on you and make it less likely customers will return to purchase again.
For instance, if you say a bouquet of flowers is a flat $40, that’s the price it better be when your customer gets to the checkout. Don’t slip in hidden fees or strange surcharges. If your marketing needs to have a ton of fine print, you’re doing it wrong.
Stand by Your Happiness Guarantee
You want your customers to be happy with every single interaction, transaction, or purchase. Develop a Happiness Guarantee your company can live with, and then stand behind it no matter what.
Even if it means replacing a few items and losing a little money in the short term, in the long term you’re likely to cultivate loyal fans who will come back to purchase from your company again and again. Best of all, thanks to your customer service going above and beyond to keep customers happy, when they come back they’re likely to bring along a friend or two.
Keeping your customers happy is the best way to turn an interested audience into a loyal following. Just make sure to focus on high-quality, fast, and personal customer service, and every buying experience will be free promotion for your company brand.
What do you think? How do you turn customers into loyal fans? Please share in the comments!
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launchedStartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.