Building great products and services isn’t enough to ensure your success in business in this day and age; your customers expect a great experience, perhaps even more so than a great product or service it seems at times.
Look at Apple for example; starting with the store you buy your Apple product at and the excitement you enjoy when you open that meticulously packaged item, you go through an unmatched experience that adds all that value of the Apple brand. No wonder Apple is investing all that money and efforts into the “packaging” aspect alone; they make sure you get your money’s worth in all stages of the shopping, buying, and consumption phases.
To succeed in building a brand that’s perceived as truly valuable and stays in demand, you’ve got to think along the same lines; what can you do to make the entire process all that more pleasant and memorable for your customers so they remain loyal, and most importantly, go out of their way to refer their friends and family to your brand?
Your Initial Touch Points
It starts with all the initial times and places a potential customer could come in contact with your brand. Be that your website, physical shop, or receptionist, first impressions last. Your customers must feel welcomed, valued, and important from the very first incident they get in touch with your brand. This is precicely why we advocate against automated phone attendance systems and door bells. Customers want to interact with real people, and they definitely don’t want to wait at a door until someone opens it for them.
Everybody needs too be happy, smiling,helpful, and friendly at all times. There are no exceptions, period! Your receptionist, the sales team, your technical people, and yes, even the CEO and chairman must appreciate the fact that without the customer there is no business. This needs to reflect in their facial expression, attitude, and overall demeanor when they interact with customers. And what’s more important, this all needs to come naturally to them and can’t appear as enforced. And for that to happen of course, they need to love their work, really understand why what they’re selling is important, and feel they are stakeholders in the business and its success.
Whether you’re selling products or services, packaging is always critical. If you’re selling products, then it’s the box you need to design carefully so it reflects your brand’s values. If you’re in the services business, package the reports you sell (in the case of consulting), your invoices, hand-outs, office appearance, and all else the customer walks away with. Packaging entails a whole lot more than the box though; included are your user manuals, quick start-up guides, FAQ sheets, and all else that comes with the purchase. Even the plastic or paper bag the customer walks out of the door with.
Your User Experience
By this, we refer to the actual quality and usability of your product or service amongst others. Ultimately, this is what will label your brand as one of high quality (or not). But again, selling a great online software solution for example alone won’t be enough. The sign-up process, the subsequent email confirmation process, and initial setup procedures need to be as efficient and well-designed as the service itself. So in other words, your product or service must not only work exceptionally well, but it must be a pleasure and joy to actually use.
Your post-sale Service
This is where many brands fail to meet the customer’s expectations. Quality post-sale customer service is critical if you want to keep high customer retention rates and also see higher business volumes from referrals. Just because a customer bought something from you and is happy (for the time being) doesn’t mean he/she will remain so for good. If they have problems with what they bought and you don’t make sure you fix it, they’ll never come back for more business. Worse even, they’ll give you bad referrals and references which of course makes your life more difficult in terms of signing up more new customers. So even if the customer is not using your product or service correctly, it’s your responsibility to make sure they can figure out how to get the most out of their purchase.
Now that you’ve built a great product/ service and packaged it as best as you can, you should feel confident enough to stand behind your promise. Offering a warranty or satisfaction guarantee might result in some unnecessary returns, but your customers’ loyalty will increase manifold. After all, who would want to buy a product or service that doesn’t work as advertised and promised? Unfortunately, some stores assume that once the merchandise is out of the door, their job has ended and they won’t take it back even if it’s clearly defective. Well, they may have made a quick sale once, but they will surely never see that same customer again (and neither their friend and peers for that matter.)
Always remember, you make the largest investment into recruiting a new customer. Once someone has bought into your brand, it becomes relatively easy to ensure they’re happy and satisfied by following the above guidelines. The rewards? Repeat business because they trust your brand, and referrals, that are easier to sell now because you came highly recommended by someone they already trust.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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