Delivering the Consumer Goods: Tips on How to Elate the Irate Customer

When you have a good experience, you tell your friends. When you have a bad one, you tell everybody.

If this isn’t part of every company’s employee manual, it should be.

Thanks to platforms welcoming instant commentary on a global scale, one nasty review from someone with even a modicum of influence can really gum up the works.

Most companies grasp that, by and large, customers are easy to please. Just provide them with the product or service they want, at a reasonable price, in a timely manner and with a smile on your face.

And, most companies grasp the credo of “The customer is always right.” A noble practice but rife with exceptions. Go to YouTube, type in “Karen” and you’ll see our point. In recent years, hordes of entitled narcissists looking for a fight and a free ride have been unleashed. Sadly, there’s not much you can do except be polite (and thankful that when they get home, you’re not there).

But what successful companies grasp is that customer service is more about long-term than in-the-moment. Doing it right every day is the key to success.

While approaches to and levels of customer service may vary from industry to industry, good is still good. Here are a handful of simple ways to please your customers and earn their loyalty.

Get all the info you can on your audience. Then, take it personally. Suggest newly arrived items that might complement a recent purchase. Wish them a happy birthday with a month-long discount. Over time, you’ll create a Covalent Bond with your customer (a strong and stable bond built on mutual benefit — look it up).

Provide them with surveys to rate your service and encourage their feedback. They’ll be honest, even brutal. But from these comments of what they don’t like will be insight into improvements they’d like to see. If you see the same request again and again (and it’s feasible) why not make it happen? Nothing will ever jazz a customer more than knowing their suggestion is now company policy.

While studying your customer, study your competition. Find out what they’ve got that you ain’t got. Once you’ve uncovered what that is, don’t copy it. Improve on it. When they go “buy one, get one half off” you go BOGO free.

Keep the proactive lagniappe coming. Earning their loyalty is much more valuable than full retail price. Even the smallest of gestures can reap big rewards. Give your customers a promo code for a discount on their next purchase. Offer them “preferred customer” rates during the big holidays, instant rebates, free delivery, frequent-buyer points toward a big-ticket item or upgrade them from silver to gold status. They’ll feel special. And, they’ll remember who makes them feel that way. Collecting loyal customers is also a great way to communicate with your new list of email addresses and phone numbers.

Make customer support speedy and easy. For today’s consumers, instant gratification isn’t fast enough. They want answers and satisfaction, and they want them yesterday. So, give it to ‘em by offering multiple methods of contacting you— live chat for real-time problem-solving, an easy-to-navigate help center and a well-researched FAQ section. Do you have a pre-recorded message for customers on hold? Make it sound human — and humane. And, for crying out loud, get some better music.

Create a strong referral program. Up to 50% of all purchases occur through word-of-mouth recommendations. When you solve a customer’s problem — and reward them for their understanding and patience — they’ll tell a friend. And that friend will tell a friend. And so on.

Ironically, statistics show that brand loyalty is more steadfast when a customer has had a problem, and the company has solved it to their satisfaction. This means every irate customer is an opportunity to earn a customer for life. If everything goes well, the company has no chance to show you how great it can be. When your flight is canceled, and they book you on another airline. When your table’s not ready, so they give you a free drink. When they don’t have a loaner, so they Uber you everywhere. It’s what companies do when it all goes wrong that can make you feel safer using someone who has failed you and made it right than some company where everything’s probably going to be okay.

At the end of the day, it’s the successful company that understands “happy equals loyal”, loyal equals repeat business and repeat business equals more profits. A textbook definition of a no brainer.

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