Build trust with your customers
The best way to earn your customers’ trust is to be transparent with them.
In the same year as the Target security breach, another retailer, Neiman Marcus, had a similar data breach that compromised 350,000 customer credit cards. The difference between how these two retailers were perceived by their customers is telling. Target tried to cover up the extent of its problems and once they were exposed in the press, it took several weeks for them to release information about what was going on. On the other hand, as soon as Neiman Marcus found out about its data breach, it immediately notified its customers and released important information about it on their website. 4 Customers appreciated this immediate show of transparency especially since it could have easily been swept under the rug.”
Empower your employees to make decisions for customers
The customer is always right, or so the adage goes. But what if the customer is wrong?
“It’s impossible to please everybody,” says Alex Lytvynenko, a design lead at Google Ventures. “But when you give people who are part of your company permission to make decisions for customers, that makes everyone happy.”
Employees may be able to disarm common customer complaints by making their own decisions rather than asking management for help, which can take time and delay resolution. Amazon’s two-day shipping policy was born this way: After customers expressed their desire for faster delivery during the early days of Amazon Prime, employees took it upon themselves to offer a two-day delivery guarantee — without asking CEO Jeff Bezos. This empowered approach allowed Amazon to maintain its competitive advantage in an evolving market and build customer loyalty at the same time.
Find ways to delight your customers
Delighted customers are your top advocates. They’ll tell their family, friends and followers about the great experiences they have with you. Finding new ways to delight your customers is an important part of keeping them coming back for more.
Don’t hide from customer complaints
Here are the crux of the eight principles I learned, and how they apply to businesses:
- Listen to your customer’s complaints:
Handling customer service means you have to be able to accept criticism for your business. But that doesn’t mean you should take those complaints personally. Listen to what your customers have to say—whether it’s positive or negative feedback—and learn from it. The more you listen to your customers and respond accordingly, the more they’ll respect you as a company, and will be more likely to come back.
Don’t hide behind automated replies that give customers empty reassurances that their problems will be dealt with in a few days or weeks (or never…?). Instead, let your customer know exactly what is happening by keeping them updated on any actions being taken by customer service staff in real time. That way, they get a clear idea of how quickly the problem is being solved and how much effort is being put into dealing with it.
Customers are more likely to come back if they trust and feel like you care about them.
- Customers are more likely to come back if they trust that you know what you’re doing, which is why it’s important to have a complete understanding of your company’s products and services. That way, “you can be confident in answering the customer’s questions and providing solutions to their problems,” says Bill Price, a former VP at Zappos.
- When you listen to customers express their concerns, they will feel heard. And when you offer valuable solutions to those concerns, your customers will feel like you are on their side and understand their situation.
- According to Price, listening with empathy is one of the most important—and empowering—skills in customer service. In order for a customer relationship to flourish over time, both parties must feel cared about by the other.