One of your most important goals as a small business is to consistently deliver a top-notch customer experience. Unfortunately, a middle-of-the-road experience is oftentimes forgettable. What people tend to remember are experiences that are either incredibly disappointing or shockingly wonderful. You certainly want to avoid the former, but how do you achieve the latter? Here are some ideas and strategies for delivering a memorable (in a good way) customer service experience.
1. Make transactions quick and simple.
Pleasant shopping experiences can die at the payment terminal. Suddenly, all the friendly banter and helpful service pales in comparison to customers’ frustratingly long wait for their credit card payment to go through. Or, worse, when they realize that your business is cash only.
Carry your excellent customer service through the finish line by modernizing your payment options.
First of all, if you don’t yet accept credit cards, get on board. If you already accept cards, take it to the next level with an NFC reader, which allows you to process mobile payment transactions like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. The transactions are faster and more secure than magnetic-swipe cards, and your customers will notice that you’re keeping up with the latest payment technologies. (And appreciate that they don’t need to carry their wallet when they shop at your store.)
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2. Have some fun.
Business as usual is just that. When customers always know what to expect when they step into your business, they might have a pleasant experience, but it won’t stand out.
So throw regular events like customer appreciation parties, new-stock shopping nights — whatever feels right for your business. Serve snacks, sweets, and beverages (wine is always appreciated), and even hire a band if you have the space and budget. Send an email to your customer list to give them a heads-up about the event.
3. Offer phone-free appointment scheduling.
Your clients are busy, so playing phone tag to make, change, and confirm appointments can taint their experience before they even walk through your door. By implementing online appointment scheduling, your clients can book a service anytime, anywhere. The ease of this process, especially if they have to reschedule, makes a positive first impression on your new clients.
The scheduling software makes your life easier, too. Instead of interrupting appointments (and annoying clients) to run to the phone, or having to hire a receptionist, you just let the software automatically fill up your schedule. It even sends appointment reminders to clients, saving them from another phone call — and fees for missing an appointment.
4. Surprise your customers.
Don’t make your customers sorry that they ever gave you their email address. Instead, make every message meaningful by providing them with a reward for opening your message, like 15 percent off a new item, or a gift card when they spend a certain amount. Use email marketing software to create various lists of shoppers, like loyal customers and those who haven’t shopped in six weeks or longer.
In addition, send customers a special message on their birthdays, offering them a free gift the next time they visit your business. This kind of no-strings-attached gesture makes a strong impression, and it’s the kind of thing that can turn a casual customer into a regular.
5. Provide unrivaled service.
There are certain companies whose customer service is legendary. They’re known for things like hassle-free returns and personal interactions that make each customer feel like they’re getting the white-glove treatment.
The first step to providing this kind of service is thinking about what you want out of customer service interactions. Make a personal connection with your customers by warmly greeting everyone who enters and leaves, and ask (and remember) their first names when you’re helping them. If you don’t have the size or color they want, make every effort to order it for them. Free shipping both ways helps, too.
And if they’re displeased, go out of your way to make it right. When you make every customer feel like it is your personal mission to make them happy, it’s not something they forget — or keep to themselves.