April 2, 2010

Turning Your Customers Into Your Biggest Fans

BY John Paul Narowski IN Customer Service 0 Comment


Business owners know how important it is to keep existing customers. Finding new customers takes a lot of time and effort. It’s much easier to keep the customers you have, and to keep them for life.

In fact, regular customers can be fickle. They’ll run to your competition at the first sign of a better deal. What you really want are rabid fans.

Fanaticism Good for Finances

Sports fans are, in many ways, extreme examples of the kind of customers a business owner wants to have. They’re loyal to one team’s products and services and they’re as vocal as it gets about their favorite team.

Just ask a Dallas Cowboy fan to wear an Eagles hat or a Packer fan to don a Viking jersey for a day. Either way, you’ll get the same answer. They’d rather be dead than wear the other team’s stuff. Now that’s loyalty.

So, what does a business owner have to do to foster this kind of loyalty in their customers?

Wow Them With Something

The first step in wowing a customer is having a unique selling point. Every business should have something that sets them apart and makes them different from their competitors.

When Domino’s Pizza hit the scene, there were already numerous pizza places making and delivering pizzas. Each pizza place was trying to convince customers that they served the best pizza.

Domino’s didn’t jump on that bandwagon. Instead, they simply found a unique selling point. As they said, “You get your pizza in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.”

That simple slogan grabbed customers’ attention. They knew they could call Domino’s when they got home, change out of their work clothes, and dinner waiting for them when they were done.

The WOW factor can also come from added bonuses you offer. Car dealerships will throw in a free snow plow with the purchase of a pickup truck. Gas stations will offer free car washes with a $20 purchase of gas.

Get creative and find ways to wow your customers.

Accept Full Responsibility for Mistakes (Even If They Aren’t Your Fault)

If you’ve made a mistake, you should apologize for it. On the other hand, saying, “I’m sorry” doesn’t always mean you’re the one who’s at fault. Sometimes it’s simply an expression of regret. Every business owners should feel badly when one of their customers has an unsatisfying experience (even if it isn’t the business owner’s fault).

Whether the mistake was yours or your customer’s, you need to sincerely apologize, and take ownership of the situation. This is not the same as taking responsibility. Taking ownership is like saying, “Regardless of who is responsible for this mistake, I’m going to accept the responsibility of making it right.”

Fix the problem immediately and make amends. If you own an auto repair shop, offer a free oil change. If you manage a restaurant, hand out coupons for a free dessert, appetizer, or even a free meal.

Go above and beyond the call of duty to fix any mistakes and you’ll win some pretty big fans. Instead of spreading stories about the mistake alone, they’ll spread stories about how you fixed it.

Caring and Concerned Follow Up

Saturn does a fantastic job of this. Thirty days after you’ve purchased a vehicle from a Saturn dealership, you’ll get a call.

Here’s an example: “Hi Mrs. Anderson. This is Jim down at the Saturn dealership. You bought a car from us and we just wanted to check in with you and see that everything is going well so far.”

That’s quite different from most dealerships where, once you’ve left the lot, you’re forgotten until it’s time to buy again. A simple call makes Saturn customers feel like Saturn cares about more than just selling a car — They care about people.

If you want to turn customers into fans, follow up with them. You want them to know that you don’t consider the deal closed just because you have their money. Show them that you really care about how your product or service is working out for them.

Creating the Super Fan

A blend of wowing your customers, making things right, and following-up can turn the average customer into… Super Fan.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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