Startups can turn out to be spectacularly successful, so long as, potential pain points are addressed. What are some key pain points of a startup? Your product isn’t up to par. Your marketing might not be compelling enough. You look at customer service as something that is outsourceable. There’s obviously many more, but the common denominator of them all relates to the customer. Your product doesn’t solve the customer’s need; your marketing doesn’t convince your customer that your product is the best solution; your customer service doesn’t make your customer excited to buy from you again.
Addressing the “customer service” part is more profitable for a company than spending millions of dollars in mass advertising and promotions. Here’s how to make your customers swoon all over your products and services:
Run your Business with Passion: One of the most common takeaways from the best of the brands known to all of us has always been the searing passion these businesses operate with. Look at Zappos. Why is Zappos remarkable? It is unmistakably raw, relentless, never-ending passion.
Without this passion, your business is nothing but a registered name-plate designed to fail. To make your customers swear by your products and services, you have to make sure that you swear by it first.
Everyone working for you—including you—is a happy sales person: We think only our sales team is supposed to talk endlessly about our products and services to our customers and that it’s not for anyone else in the company to focus on. A good example of a company that throws this fallacy out of the window – high up in the air – is Southwest Airlines. Every employee working with Southwest Airlines primarily has fun while working and that happiness radiates throughout. So customers never see disgruntled or morose faces nor cringe under the weight of rude remarks just because employees are not happy working for a company. Happy employees cause miracles and customers can’t help but run to grab your products and services.
Throw in surprises: There isn’t a single person in this world who doesn’t loves surprises (I know I just made a sweeping generalization, but I am an incorrigible optimist); your customers would be thrilled if you threw in a surprise or two each time they get in touch with you. Send them flowers, Gift Baskets for Women and wish them or someone close to them on birthdays and anniversaries, give them a discount when they weren’t expecting it, call them up to tell them that you appreciate their patronage and send in a gift – just like that. So many people are shortsighted when it comes to this. They only focus on the fact that it lowers their margins. In the long run, however, you will reap the reward of having the most passionate customers and users.
Delight your customers: Companies all over the world harp about high quality products and services and very few really live up to their promises. One of the over-arching goals of your marketing and sales should be to focus on quality; done unto death. Singular, almost mono-maniacal focus on delivering high quality products and services while doing everything else you can for your customers is a formula to create a legacy for your startup.
Go that extra mile – always: If you have a customer service department, here’s the first rule that you need to follow: APOLOGIZE. Be straightforward that you messed up rather than trying to blame it on your user. Product malfunction? “We’ll upgrade you to our premium service at no cost.” Server downtime? “Your hosting is on us for the next three months.” Punish yourself and your staff. Do whatever you can to go that extra mile but don’t say “Sorry, it’s against our policy”.
No matter what happens, you are wrong: Never argue with your customers and don’t treat them like little children. Don’t talk condescendingly to them and never try to sound bigger than they are – all for the simple reason that you aren’t bigger than they are. Your business thrives on your customers’ dollar. As far as I am concerned, no one argues with a dollar; they only strive to earn it. Whatever happens in any interaction with a customer, you are wrong. Apologize and fix. Period.
Thank your customers: Was this an obvious point? Yes, definitely. But it isn’t something that happens “obviously”. It’s a rarity to be thanked nowadays. You will stand out just by simply thanking your customers. I mean really thank them, not just some template email. Why wouldn’t you want to make an indelible impression in your customers’ mind for a long time to come?
What do you think? Have you ever thought of doing something special for your users? Have you found something that works really well for you?
Feel free to leave me a comment below or tweet me @druwynings.