I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.
According to a Visa Business infographic on customer care, it takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for just one negative experience.
If you’re a small business owner, that can sound really intimidating. You might feel that once a customer has a negative experience with your company, it would be way too much work to try and win them back.
However, in this day and age of highly competitive markets and everyone taking their issues with your company onto social media, you’ll want to make sure you provide exceptional customer service – even to those having a negative experience with your company.
Why? According to the infographic below:
• 36% of businesses have won back a customer due to a positive support experience on social media
• 71% of those who experienced positive social care are likely to recommend that brand to others
• 42% of customers purchased more after a good customer service experience
If you’re looking to turn potentially negative experiences into positive ones, here are three ways to win your customer back and have them become strong brand evangelists who continue to buy from you:
Empower Your Employees
One of the most frustrating experiences I had in an exclusive children’s clothing store in Asia was encountering employees who were given instructions they could not deviate from – not even to give me an extra shopping bag.
This particular store had franchises in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries so it was no small independent shop.
I had happily shopped there on many occasions. During one of their sales, I purchased multiple items, which they stuffed into a plastic bag. When I asked for a pretty paper bag with rope handles that other customers were walking out with, I was informed I was “not eligible” because I had bought sale items.
Talk about making me feel like a second-class citizen.
I explained to the clerk that the total amount I am paying was the price of at least several regular priced items, but they had clear instructions that only regular priced merchandise got to walk out in a pretty bag.
Imagine giving up a loyal customer spending hundreds of dollars in your store, for a bag that probably costs $1 to make.
In what small way can you empower employees to make your customers happy?
Get your CEO on Social Media
One of my PR clients is a fast growing technology company that provides meeting and conference apps. Often their technology is downloaded by thousands of people all at once, to multiple smartphone and computing devices, by users who might not be the least bit technology savvy.
That can mean, for example, that 17,000 attendees at a Fortune 100 company event could take a support issue to social media channels.
While that sounds like a recipe for disaster, my client makes sure that they use social media as a way to help their customers succeed (not just to promote themselves or their thought leadership).
Since my client actively monitors their customers’ event feed on Twitter and Facebook, they can quickly escalate any user issues to the support team or project manager. Usually, the event organizer has made an error that they weren’t even aware of, and if needed, my client works with them to fix the problem.
The CEO is also active on social media and occasionally does the above if he gets tweeted by someone. Having the CEO respond to his customer’s tweets really makes an impression on their experience with his company. It’s something they never forget, which is probably why my client has had a very high repeat customer rate and lands new customers at every event they service.
As a small business owner or CEO, are you on social media?
If so, how can you as the leader of your company, help make your customers feel special?
Take your guarantees to the next level
In the retail arena, companies like Nordstrom and Zappos were early game changers in setting standards for their “no questions asked” return policy.
I offer ebooks and downloadable digital products with a 365-day return policy. This basically means the purchaser can use the materials for an entire year, keep the information for free, and still get a refund if they wanted to.
These examples might sound unfeasible for the small business owner, but customers are expecting higher and higher customer standards, otherwise they’ll simply shop elsewhere.
If your product or service is remarkable and marketed to the right audience, returns are rarely something you have to worry about! Providing exceptional guarantees simply removes obstacles to purchasing your product or working with you.
If you do get returns or negative feedback, don’t be defensive and instead look at it as an opportunity for research and development. According to Visa Business, the good news is that customers are happy with small businesses because they feel 65% ask for feedback and 71% anticipate their needs.
Ask your customers:
• What about the product or service met or didn’t meet their expectations?
• What would they have wanted more, or less of?
• Would they shop with you/work with you again?
This is extremely valuable information that could make the next version of your product or service the one that gets everyone talking about your company – in a truly remarkable and exceptional way, of course.
What do you think? I’d love to know in the comments section what you think of the infographic, or if you have had a positive or negative customer service story – how you dealt with it.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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