It always surprises me to hear about how few business-people implement strategies of doing what they can to make their customers feel good. I know that trying to keep customers happy is a generally unspoken rule when you’re in business, because satisfied clients are usually always the goal.
But do you actually implement best practices to get customers smiling?
Here’s good reason to work on making customers smile more: When Harris Interactive conducted a poll a few years ago, 88% of people felt that good customer service beat out hot deals and offers. That’s a nearly unanimous statistic, and I’m pretty positive that not much has changed were you to ask people the same question about how they feel today.
Plus, it just makes logical sense… smiling customers make for successful businesses.
Let’s start with a very easy tactic you can implement starting right now.
Little trick #1: Smile warmly
You’d be surprised at how much of a difference a smile can make, whether you’re reassuring a customer he’s making a good choice or trying to defuse a sticky situation. A smile shows that you’re calm, in a good mood and willing to help do what you can.
Little trick #2: Bring smiles into your phone conversations
You may not realize how much the tone of your voice changes when you smile, but it’s actually very noticeable – people can hear smiles even if they can’t see them. If you rarely talk on the phone, use emoticons in emails and text messages. Some people say that emoticons aren’t really professional, but one well-placed “smiley” takes the tone of the text to a whole new level.
Little trick #3: Say your customers name twice
Speaking of making sure your message is well received, get people paying more attention to what you’re saying by using their name. We tend to focus when we hear our name, and you’ll find that customers seem to listen a little more to what’s just been said or what’s about to be said if you use this tactic. The best way to use this technique is to say a person’s name twice in any conversation. It shows you’re highly aware of the person, tuned into the conversation, and it creates better personal rapport.
Little trick #4: Touch a customer while smiling
An effective way to create more rapport is to actually touch someone briefly as you smile at them. One of the best ways to brighten moods is to give someone’s shoulder a gentle squeeze while you say something reassuring or complimentary. And yes, offer them a smile – they’ll automatically return it to you.
Little trick #5: Tell a customer he’s special
This is so easy to do, and it costs nothing to boost someone’s morale. People love to feel accepted and liked, so telling someone he’s a special customer can go a long way towards making him feel awesome about himself – and that’s definitely going to make him feel good about you as well.
Want to add some extra punch to that last tip? Tell someone else that you think someone is special… while that person is standing right there listening. Think about how you’d feel if you hear someone you’ve hired or bought something from tell another person that you’re a great person. You can’t help but want to smile when you hear compliments like that!
Little trick #6: Treat your staff and employees well
Speaking of good feelings, don’t forget to spread smiles amongst the people who work for you. By doing so, they’ll treat your customers the way you treat them. If you’re always smiling, happy, and glad to talk with your staff, you’ll find they reflect that treatment towards people who buy from your business. Imagine the results!
Little trick #7: Follow up with clients
Many buyers have a great experience but find that once the purchase is over or the contract ends, service stops there. Keep up contact, because it lets people know you were thinking of them – without trying to sell them on anything. Email or call the customer just to ask how it’s going and whether the person’s enjoying his or her purchase. Don’t pitch your services; just be nice.
Nothing brings a smile to someone’s face more than feeling appreciated and remembered, so send a thank-you note to customers. Avoid generic cards; pick something unique that fits the person’s personality or that relates to a conversation you’ve had. Mention you’d enjoyed working together. If they’ve just accomplished a business goal, send congratulations. A birthday? Wish them joy.
Little trick #8: Give the customer what they want
Here’s a way to turn a frown into a smile – or at least, into a satisfied customer: give the customer what he wants. This is especially useful in the case of client complaints. Offer the customer the benefit of the doubt, ask which solution is desired, and do everything you can to make it happen.
This doesn’t mean breaking the rules. It means it’s okay to break the policies and create an exception to help restore good feelings. That can definitely earn you points; the customer will tell friends about what you did… not what you wouldn’t do.
Little trick #9: Show that you are trying
And if you can’t give the customer what he wants? At least show you tried and that you were willing to accommodate the request. Sometimes just the fact that you cared is all it takes to help people smile again.
Little trick #10: Do the unexpected
People guess at what you might say, and they tend to think they know what you’ll do before you even do it. Surprise them – in a good way. Watch for opportunities to please clients out of the blue when they least expect it. When you hear of a small “wish” the client doesn’t expect to become true, you’ll know that’s the perfect moment to reply, “Actually, it’d be my pleasure to help you with that.”
Little trick #11: Give a gift
Another pleasure you can offer customers is to give them a little gift. Surprise customers with a gift card or send them a token of appreciation in the mail. It doesn’t have to be much. $15 to spend at Amazon or a free book you think they’d enjoy always brings a smile. You could also offer them a discount on their next purchase or toss in a little extra on their order, or maybe even give them a coupon code to a product or service unrelated to your business that you know they might find useful.
Little trick #12: Have good manners
Although this may seem obvious, it’s often overlooked. Say please, thank you and you’re welcome often. Get into the habit of being polite. A meaningful “you’re welcome” goes a long way towards cultivating positive feelings, and your customers will remember that you treated them well.
I’m sure I’ve left some great tips to get people smiling off this list, so help me out. How do you make your customers smile? What do you do to get that happy look on their face?