It is a no-brainer that the customer is the most important component of the business cycle. The success (or failure) of any business depends directly on how well the business has managed to keep its customers happy.
What does the customer really want?
In today’s competitive market place, customer service is the key differentiator. Unless your customers are supporting you and buying your products and services, it will be quite difficult to survive in the fierce competition that is the norm in the market today.
So what is it that the customer really wants? Have customer requirements changed in the last few years or have they remained the same?
These are not simple questions to answer. Yet to answer them, one must proceed ahead and keep the business alive. Also in today’s increasingly internet driven world, where anything and everything is available online at the mere click of a button, the customer requirements in certain areas have changed as compared to what they were a few years back. But some customer rules are timeless, which have remained unchanged for ages and which will continue to remain so forever.
Based on my own experience in good old fashioned marketing, the not so old fashioned internet marketing and interacting with scores of customers, I have put together some of the things (which in my opinion) are what the customer is really looking forward to from you. Without further ado, I will share those with you. Here they are
5 Things Your Customer Really Wants From You
- 1. She Wants to Know ‘what is in it for her’
First things first. This golden rule of customer service holds true whether you are selling online or offline.
The customer, at the very outset wishes to know how your product or service will benefit her. Unless she is convinced about how your product or service can meet her need or provide her a solution, she finds no reason to ‘waste’ her time, even considering your product.
Focus on the benefits of the products, not features.
What this means is that while designing your communication strategy, focus on benefits of your product, rather than the features. No doubt, you are eager to share with the world the latest ground breaking technology that you have incorporated into the product. Resist the urge. Focus instead on telling the customer how this ‘ground breaking technology’ will benefit her. For instance, it may save her time or may be reduce the electricity consumption or increase aesthetic appeal etc.
As to the technical details, you can write a detailed article for a trade journal, where it will be well received.
- 2. Honesty is the Best Policy…Honestly
While considering your product for purchase, customers really want to know what your product can or cannot do. And customers appreciate if you are honest about this aspect. Similarly if there is a particular service area you do not offer, be upfront about it. There is nothing that puts off the customer than discovering that the product (or service) does not deliver on what has been promised.
Resist the temptation of being ambiguous in your communication. For instance, if you do not offer ‘free home delivery’, state this clearly in your communication material. So at least now the customer knows what to expect. And you will be surprised that customers continue to favor your business (even though they have to pay extra for home delivery) because they want to ‘reward’ you for being honest about it.
Contrast this with the scenario, where the customer discovered at the last moment that there is extra charge for home delivery. You can be fairly sure that this is last time the customer will support you and may in fact even spread negative word about this.
- 3. Keep it Personal
As far as possible, try and maintain a personal relationship with your customers. Address them by name in your communications. Nothing so creates a distance in the minds of the customer as addressing them as ‘Dear customer’ or Dear member’. Put in the extra effort of knowing a little bit more about them.
If your customer communication is not personal, it may be falling on deaf ears. Simon seems to agree.
It is perhaps easier to know your customers personally in a traditional shop set up. But even in online (or offline) marketing efforts, there are tools available to analyze purchasing trends of customers. Use this information to create unique offers for them depending on their personal product preferences. I should be vastly surprised if such a strategy does not guarantee you a life-time customer. After all, everyone likes to feel special and important and this is exactly what this strategy achieves.
- 4. Do not Overcrowd the Customers
Maintain a reasonable distance from your customers. Though it appears contradictory to marketing aims, it is a necessary strategy to keep your customers comfortable.
No one likes somebody breathing down their neck all the time. If you are constantly calling, emailing or tweeting your customer on some pretext or the other, there is the risk you may end up annoying her and she may cut off completely from your product and service.
Keep your distance to keep your customers
Guard against this tendency. Maintain communication. (Lack of communication will just push you off the mind radar), but take care not to overwhelm or oversell to the customers.
This is important in a physical store scenario too. When customer walks in, offer to help, but if she prefers to browse for a while, for God’s sake, let her do it. Do not constantly be in her path offering her this, that or the other thing. That unfortunately is not customer service, but customer irritation.
- 5. Show That their Opinion Matters
Often companies conduct elaborate customer surveys. And most of them do incorporate the findings into their product development or use it for refining their services. But many of them neglect to inform the customers about this.
It is a good idea to send a ‘thank-you’ email to customers, thanking them for participating in the survey and informing them that ‘such and such’ changes have been made in the product based on their input.
You can be rest assured that this will make the customer feel very important. She will appreciate that you have taken her input seriously. This will encourage her to participate in any future surveys you conduct. And more importantly she is now ready and willing (nay eager) to try out the new product or service that you have refined, based specifically on her feedback.
Some customers might be quirky and irrational, but overall they are the source of joy and happiness (not to mention income) for any business. The customer is aptly called the KING/ QUEEN (you see, I’m gender sensitive). The challenge lies in identifying what they really want and giving it to them so that they remain in your corner.
Those were some of the strategies I feel strongly about. Those worked wonders for me. I am sure there are many more out there that you have tried. Why don’t you share your strategies in the comments section? I would love to hear from you.