November 24, 2016
Company reputations get made by your customers. Your marketing, public relations, and social efforts will add to the experience, but overall, your reputation depends on the happiness of your clients.
It’s for this reason that you want your customers to not only be happy but to be your biggest fans. A fan is usually used to refer to someone with great enthusiasm—maybe for a sports team, celebrity or the like—but people can also be fans of companies, brands and products.
These people are known as ‘brand fans’ or sometimes ‘brand ambassadors,’ and are willing to say good things about you and your products all on their own, without your influence.
True fans will stick with you, even if you have a bad season, while everyday customers come and go as the seasons change. These fans are more powerful and visible than ever on social media.
The companies that are exceptional at collecting fans have two things in common—they do right by their customers when they’ve done wrong, and they consistently delight their customers with good customer service.
If your looking to convert more of your customers into fans, follow these five techniques to help turn your customers into brand ambassadors.
Your customers are going to be angry with you at times, and even make demands of you that you’re not going to be able to satisfy. For example, a customer may call you demanding the addition of a functionality of your tool that doesn’t exist, or more likely, they’re having problems with your product and are very frustrated.
The trick is to listen, smile and keep your cool while speaking with the customer at all times. When they’re hot, you stay cool—always.
Even if you can’t fix the problem, your customer is going to leave the conversation feeling like their problem was being addressed, and well-taken-care-of by your customer service.
At some point, a customer will come to you with a broken piece of hardware, a glitch in your SaaS product or something that will be the fault of your company, and not them. If there is a problem with your product, you need to fix it and make it painless and possible.
People understand that sometimes things break, and mistakes happen. The companies that are the most successful at creating fans are the ones that take responsibility when something goes wrong, and then fix it painlessly.
If you’re looking for examples of this, try not to be Comcast, but be Apple instead. When you go to Comcast with a problem, it’s excruciatingly frustrating. You can’t get anyone on the phone, and the problem is almost always difficult to fix. Apple handles their service gracefully, often with no cost to the customer. They’re even known to replace faulty technology at no cost.
The main takeaway—fans tell feelings about companies they love, disappointed customers will talk about their bad experience.
Your customers are all online, whether they’re fans or not. They’re active on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, and more. They’re not just consuming content either; they’re creating it—and they could be creating content about you.
If they are, and you’re monitoring these channels and creating a brand presence for yourself, you can also be part of the conversation.
One example of good customer service through social media is Buffer. When you interact with them via social media, they get back to you that day—in my experience, in 15 minutes or less. Because of this, I’m a big fan of theirs and know I can rely on them to help me if something goes wrong.
This one seems obvious—but you need to be delightful to your customers at all times, not just when there’s a problem. If you’re a SaaS solution and have certain personnel assigned to different accounts, strive to remember your client’s names or personal attributes to bring up in future conversations.
The more personal relationship you have with your customers, the more delightful they will find you. If you have way too many customers to possibly remember all of their names, try things like highlighting very successful customers and their stories through contests or your blog.
Keep coming up with ways to interact with your customers positively, and you’ll be sure to delight them enough to convert those customers into long-term fans.
Finally, if a customer has reached out to you with a problem, suggestion, or just to say hello, you need to be the one to end the conversation.
As an example, say you’ve received a help ticket from a customer that has been solved, and the customer has written or called to let you know so. You still need to follow-up. Consider sending a friendly email letting them know the ticket will close, or send a follow-up survey to get their feedback on the process.
Either way, you need to be the last one to end the conversation, and always give the customer the opportunity to rekindle the conversation if need be.
Think about how you can make company-wide changes by listening, engaging and giving great service to your customers. The conversations that you have with them—either through social media, email or on the phone—are what are most important.
If you put your customers first, you’ll watch them convert from customers to long-term fans, and in turn, your business grow.