What does it mean to provide customer service in today’s world? To most, it’s simply the support you offer your customers before and after they buy your product. However, not everyone recognizes the level at which you provide this customer service can make or break your small business. Every customer has the potential to become a brand advocate. With this in mind, here are three ways to deliver stellar customer service and ensure the future of your small business is a bright one.
Make it personal with a handwritten note
A handwritten note makes your customers feel special. It signals that you have gone out of your way to thank them. And in truth, you have! Taking the precious time to say thank you by hand is rare in this day and age. Business owners who see this extra effort as an opportunity (not an obligation) stand out amongst the crowd.
Take for instance Mouse Apparel. Mouse Apparel is an online shop run by husband and wife team John and Adrienne Savone specializing in Disney-theme tees. When a customer places an order, Adrienne asks customers to please leave a comment to tell her about their upcoming Disneyland trip. Then she takes this personal piece of information and mentions it in a handwritten note when sending out their tees. So not only did Adrienne take the time to say thank you with a handwritten note, she made the additional effort of personalizing that note based on the customer’s trip.
As one small business owner puts it in the article “The Forgotten Power of Handwritten Notes,” "It's a small personal touch that goes a long way. Taking the time to send someone a handwritten 'Thank you' or 'Nice meeting you' note can make the difference between someone working with you or not working with you."
Mouse Apparel customers have provided thankful feedback on their store's page with comments such as Danielle Choy saying, "Super cute. Great fit! The personal hand written note inside was a nice surprise as well! <3," and Katie Szewczul saying, “It was also so nice to get a hand-written note from the shop owner and was a great personal touch! :-)."
It is clear that receiving a handwritten note (especially during the busy holiday season) has become a rare find in the business world. The more small businesses can add a personal touch to include in their orders, the more likely the customer is to purchase again.
Thanking customers for their positive feedback
So often the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”. As business owners, we spend part of each week responding back to customers that were unsatisfied with our product or service. But how much time do you spend each week following up with happy customers?
Most business owners spend their time working through negative feedback and the thought of making happy customers happier doesn’t even occur to them. Following up with a positive review is another opportunity to engage with your customers in a memorable way. Customers will be impressed by those businesses that take the time to respond to positive feedback. It’s a show of appreciation and an acknowledgment of the time customers spent writing about your business. And as Brian Sparker points out in his article, “How to Respond to Positive Reviews,” this is also a perfect time to ask what you can do better: “If you’re truly serious about reaching the potential of your business, you’ll find every opportunity to improve. Even if that opportunity comes from an already glowing review. Asking happy customers what else you can do to help is a great way not only to keep the feedback loop going but also to affirm and improve a positive experience.”
For example, you may receive a positive review saying something like, “I really enjoyed my stay at the Grand Hotel. They made me feel welcome at check-in, the room was spotless, and breakfast was delicious.” What a great opportunity to respond with something like, “Thank you so much for your thoughtful review Bob. What else can we do for you and your family to make your next stay even better next time?” These two sentences accomplish the following: thanking the customer, encouraging them to come back, and seizing an opportunity to learn what you can do to improve the customer experience.
Software like Infusionsoft can even help you respond to positive feedback through marketing automation so the time investment may not be as costly as you imagine. Companies pay for that type of valuable feedback, and you could be getting it for free.
Surprise your customer with the unexpected
Usually, we get exactly what we ordered. Delivering above and beyond is a great opportunity to outpace the competition. Find a way to deliver and wow by incorporating the element of surprise into your product life cycle. Better yet, leverage a marketing automation software to do this for you. Here are some examples of how different industries can go above and beyond standard purchase follow up. These examples can be automatically sent out once a purchase is confirmed through a system like Infusionsoft:
If you’re service provider, add a coupon off their next purchase and invite them to share it with their friends and family. This is a simple yet powerful way to market to your existing leads as well as capture new ones.
If you are a coach or consultant, send your clients a link to a webinar recording or e-book that isn’t readily available anywhere else. Tell them it’s your way of showing appreciation and that you are excited to work with them in the days to come.
If you are a business selling a physical product, one of the easiest ways to go above and beyond is to find a product that you currently offer and include it free of charge with their order. Your “bonus” product will have expenses associated with it. Consider that expense an investment in customer experience. You only get one shot at a first impression and imagine the impression you will leave your customers when they receive their “bonus” product.
Customers can choose between you and your competitor. Make the choice a simple one by providing stellar customer service that exceeds their expectations. When you deliver truly outstanding service, your customers will become advocates for your business.
Yanira Sesniak is an Infusionsoft Getting Started Manager and small business raving fan. With more than a decade in work committed to stellar customer service, she enjoys coaching small businesses and leaders on how to create memorable moments for customers. She is a mother of four to a toddler, two furry kids, and a baby on the way.