What are your holiday plans for this festive season?
Customers are busy and frazzled during the holidays, it’s the perfect time to capture their long-term loyalty.
You may be thinking of the holiday season as a time to increase revenue and close more business. Some of you may also think no one is interested to talk business during this festive time.
Let me tell you – customers are most likely to decide whether they like buying from you or would prefer to buy elsewhere in the future.
Make it easier to get support.
Surprisingly, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year for most customers. They will be shopping, ordering, and asking more questions than usual: in person, over the phone, at their computers, on their mobile devices, at work, in their cars, and from home.
Making it easier for customers to get support makes you a haven from the hassle. This creates good will and positive feelings that will keep customers loyal long after New Years have come and gone.
Ideally, you want to create an environment where shopping, buying, and receiving support are all part of a seamless environment. That may take some time, but there is at least one action that can immediately improve your customers’ experience.
Make them feel you are favorite customer
Personalized service makes people feel special. Keep track of your regular customers’ preferences and choices. Customize their experiences so they all feel as if they are your favorite customer.
Customizing your offers and suggestions increases your value to the customer each time she/he visits and helps you become the vendor, store, or supplier each customer is glad to talk about.
Let not your customers feel as if they’re just a number.
Turn complaints into opportunities
Customers only complain when they’re still considering buying from you.
Otherwise, they’d just go elsewhere! Who stops them?
When customers complain, they are telling you what they value and therefore what you must do to keep them loyal. If she/he says you aren’t fast enough, she/he values speed. If she/he says they are tired of not being able to get anyone on the phone, they value human interaction.
Give your support team a set of tools with which to make amends, based on the nature of the complaint.
If a customer thinks you’re too slow, offer a free shipping upgrade on the next order.
Matching the right fix to what the customer values turns a complaint into a reason to keep doing business with you, long after the holidays are over. That’s what customer loyalty is all about.
Treat your employees better.
Your employees too are under extra stress during the holidays. As a result, its easy for employees to feel too exhausted, frazzled, and overwhelmed to do anything more than the minimum for each customer.
Customers are immediately turned off by employees who lack energy to smile or treat the service they provide as a chore.
There are many ways to make employees feel more valued during the holidays. The classic is the year-end bonus, but there are 10 things that employees want more than money. Remember that a smaller gesture, like a personal thank-you, goes a long way.
Find ways to keep employees feeling aligned, supported, and joyfully connected to your brand, to their colleagues, and to your customers. Customers prefer working with, and buying from, people who are positive and energized.
Become a community leader
The holidays, of course, are when people think of giving, which makes it the perfect time to exhibit your generosity in a way that your employees and customers will appreciate.
Local community service makes everyone feel good, from employees to customers to other community members. When your company plays a socially responsible role in the community, customers feel that buying from you makes the world a better place.
If your customer base is local, consider
- sponsoring a local sports team,
- offering (paid) school internships, or
- adopting a stretch of highway or a local park.
If your customer base is global, consider sponsoring educational, health, or environmental initiatives.
Matching employee contributions to the charity of their choice also builds good will, not only with employees but with customers as well, especially if you provide a list of the charities that have gotten the donations.
What’s most important here is to make the donations either specific to your local community or to causes that resonate with your global brand. Giving to generic charities may not be as effective.
Suresh Shah, M.D., Pathfinders Enterprise