Loyal, enthusiastic customers are worth their weight in gold. Keeping customers satisfied requires reliable delivery of a great product, promptly and courteously. When things go awry, customers deserve solutions that effectively address their concerns. It sounds simple, but satisfying disgruntled customers is not always easy. Use these five tips to achieve consistent customer satisfaction and keep customers coming back for more.

 

Relate

People are happiest when doing business with firms they can relate to and trust. Community involvement can help a new firm introduce itself locally, or help an established one reaffirm its presence. Let the high school hold a bake sale on your property, sponsor a youth sports team, or purchase ads in local theater programs. Online businesses can connect with virtual communities through cross-marketing, or by establishing their own vibrant online group. The key to relationships is communication, so make sure all your communications are clear and engaging. Use visuals to reinforce important ideas and relay value concepts. Reinforce fundamental points through repetition so customers and potential clients will remember your message. Listen attentively to customer feedback.

 

Retain

Customer relationship management is not just about attracting customers; it is also about retaining them. Some crm examples include notifications to alert app subscribers about special deals on products they have purchased in the past, and follow-up emails asking if they were satisfied with past transactions. A recent study indicates that even customers who are pleased with a brand may not give it repeat business, often because it did not make a strong enough impression. Simply put, customers may forget you. To create a memorable emotional connection, follow up each interaction with a brief text. Express gratitude for their interest in your company and invite them to share their experiences and opinions.

 

Respond

Soliciting customer feedback means nothing if you fail to follow up on the information you receive. Positive comments deserve a quick expression of thanks, both to the customer and to the employees who provided exceptional service. Negative comments can be helpful too, as long as you view grievances and criticism as opportunities for improvement. Let your customer know you heard their message and are willing to address the problem. Your initial response should occur within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. Reach back to customers over the same platform they used to reach out to you, to keep them in their comfort zone. For instance, if they aired a complaint on a review website, respond on the same site, giving reassurance that you will do everything you can to fix the situation. If they telephoned, call back. It may be impossible to rectify every situation to the complete satisfaction of everyone, but address each concern as thoroughly as possible. Most importantly, never ignore negative feedback. Use it as an opportunity to let people know you care.

 

Reward

Loyalty should be rewarded. Frequent flyer plans and similar reward programs have proven popular with many businesses in the retail, food service and travel industries. Target your best customers—those in the top 10 to 20%—and offer them discounts, exclusive perks or upgrades. Remember, you can reward more than frequency. Give gifts when a customer’s spending reaches a certain dollar amount, or incentivize recommendations and referrals. Change things up by cross marketing with other firms who court a similar clientele; a tax attorney may team up with an investment advisor, or a personal trainer may network with a massage therapist. Be selective in your alliances. A bad experience associated with your rewards program may reflect badly on you. Likewise, if you refer a patron to a firm that provides a stellar experience, that customer will be twice as happy with you.

 

Refresh

In some industries like finance and government, older traditional ways of doing business may be suitable. However, these examples are the exception. As a rule, customers tend to appreciate it when companies keep things fresh. Monitor industry trends and don’t be afraid to experiment with your own ideas. Even minor innovations can make a big difference as you fine-tune your customer relationship practices. The sooner you improve your customers’ experiences, the faster they will increase your bottom line.