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Keeping customers happy
How to create the ultimate customer experience
When you hear the words “customer experience,” what comes to mind?
Is it a friendly customer service rep? Is it an easy-to-navigate website? Or how about free shipping or returns?
The most dominant force for a business used to be offering the customer what he or she needed. It was all about finding a pain point and creating the right solution. And that was enough to grow a business. People would even forgive a subpar experience as long as the end result was what they wanted. Because no one else was offering that product or service, the experience took a backseat to the solution.
Keeping customers happy has changed in the last 20 years: As technology kept improving, markets grew increasingly saturated. There were tons of businesses doing the same thing. Online retail shopping blew up. Online grocers were putting a strain on brick-and-mortar markets. Hundreds of companies even started delivering meal kits right to your doorstep. It was no longer enough to have the right solution, or even the right solution with the right interface. The businesses who succeeded were the ones that understood how to keep customers satisfied in this new environment.
So how did certain companies stand out? Why did some businesses rise to the top while others folded and crumbled? Two words: customer experience. But before we go into more detail about creating a great customer experience, let’s look at the six best ways to keep your customers happy.
How to keep your customers happy
1. Listen to them
If you aren’t asking your customers for continual feedback, you’re not capitalizing on all the ways you can keep them satisfied. Ask them questions either personally, through your customer service reps or via digital communication and deeply listen to the answers. If you do this, you’ll often hear exactly how to keep customers satisfied from those who know best.
2. Know your industry better than anyone
Keeping customers happy revolves around being the authority in your industry. For your business to stand out in a crowded world, you need to be able to answer questions thoroughly and provide the best solutions to those you serve.
3. Reward loyal customers
Every good entrepreneur knows that keeping customers happy is more important than constantly gaining new ones. Reward loyalty with discounts, free products, extra services or other bonuses that show you appreciate them and that will keep them singing your praises.
4. Create ongoing, engaging content
You need to keep talking to your customers – and you can’t always do that in person. An engaging content strategy through blogging, emails and social media will help you remain relevant and keep your customers informed.
5. Be transparent
Do you want to know how to keep customers satisfied? Be honest with them. Tell them how changes in the economy are affecting your business, share your struggles and let them celebrate with you as you grow. This makes them feel like part of the team and increases loyalty.
6. Respond promptly to feedback
No matter how good your products or services are, there will inevitably be feedback from your customers. Keeping customers happy is not about never having complaints – it’s about responding to them promptly when they happen. Once your team is aware of a problem, contact the customer directly to find out what went wrong and do your best to make it right. This keeps your clients happy and allows you to turn potential problems into opportunities.
What is customer experience?
Think about the companies you love doing business with. What are they? And what do you enjoy about them?
The top companies in the game aren’t just offering solutions to your pain points, they’re pulling out all the stops – giving their customers the white glove experience from start to finish, keeping customers happy and coming back for more: Friendly customer service reps, free shipping and returns, light-speed service and more and more perks that you didn’t even think about. It’s not just about giving you what you need – it’s about giving you what you want.
Customer service isn’t just about the product or service, it’s about treating customers like they are the top priority. That is why companies that are putting a premium on convenience and consistency are winning. Look at Venmo, for example. Venmo is in the same market as Paypal, doing the exact same thing, but Venmo has captured a substantial part of Paypal’s market by making it easier for the customer.
That is the importance of customer experience.
Innovations in customer experience
Too many companies have grown complacent and no longer put a lot of thought into keeping customers happy. They think, well, we provide a solution to the customer, so that should be good enough. But sooner or later someone else is going to come in and capitalize on the areas where you fall short. They will create the superior customer experience that you don’t have. The result? They capture your market share, and, eventually, that will put you out of business.
To be the disruptor instead of the disrupted, you need to constantly innovate. So where do you start as a business owner? Take a comprehensive review, or audit of your current customer experience. Ask yourself: Is my software easy to use? Is my product or service easy to order? What makes it hard for my customer, and how can I not only make it easier, but how can I go above and beyond? Remember, it’s not about meeting your client’s expectations – it’s exceeding them.
How to keep your customers happy is about anticipation and fulfilling needs before the customer even knows they have that need. Rent the Runway – a designer dress and accessory rentals business – sends back-up sizes just in case the items you ordered do not fit. Zappos, an online shoe retailer, takes all returns for free, no questions asked. And Amazon? While they may not have the ideal shopping experience – is it even possible to sort through the thousands of options? – they offer an unprecedented deal with shipping, and the customer has absolute certainty knowing that they will be covered if the package does not show up or if they need to place a return.
Here’s the question you need to answer: If you had to start all over and build a company that’s in your market, with the same types of customers, what would it look like? How would you build it to be better than your own? The answer will give you the strategy you need to stay ahead of your competition. Remember, they too are looking at your weaknesses – they want to outflank you and capture your market. But if you can use these weaknesses as opportunities to innovate and create an easier, safer and more enjoyable customer experience, then you will not only be able to retain your current customer base, but may be able to outflank them and capture a greater market share, too.
A new level of expectations
While you might be surprised at how much people expect these days, this is simply where they are at. This is the new reality of today’s consumer-focused world. It’s all about the customer experience, from start to finish, and keeping customers happy means exceeding these expectations.
People don’t want to call customer service to get information or to complete tasks that should be intuitive on the website. On the contrary, people see automation as a sign of sophistication, and that reflects well on your brand.
People feel like they are being hassled if they have to pick up the phone and call. But if they do have to call a representative, then it must be the most enjoyable experience possible. No waiting times. Friendly service. Easy fixes. That’s how to keep customers satisfied.
Find the authentic voice of your client. Do not base your quality of customer experience on whether or not you provided a solution. Go out and actually ask your customers how they felt – use a survey, send direct emails, ask for feedback. What were their frustrations? What were their dislikes?
Each of these negative answers is an opportunity for you to innovate. If your fear of the answers you might hear causes you to tune out – or never ask to begin with – then you will never really grow. Look for what makes you uncomfortable. Remember, weaknesses can be your biggest opportunities for growth, innovation and connection with the customer. You want to create a business that has thoroughly considered each and every one of their customers’ needs. This is what creates raving fan customers, and, in turn, breeds brand loyalty, which equates to higher lifetime value and stronger revenues for your business in the long run.