Lindsey Witcherley

How to turn customers into advocates

by Lindsey Witcherley on December 02, 2013


Customer service

How many times have you praised good customer service compared to the times you've moaned about a bad experience?

Personally, I can remember far more negative than positive! I write this while circling Birmingham International Airport on a delayed (and already frustrating) RyanAir flight. And, as a marketing professional, I therefore think to myself – why exactly is this experience so gratingly frustrating?

The answer – they aren’t telling us what’s happening.

It may be a standard line that marketing people roll out, but you have to communicate effectively with your customers.

Here are seven simple steps that will help keep your customers happy – and help shape them into advocates for your company:

1. Communicate

Customers shouldn't have to ask. You need to get to them, before they get to you. The moment you're on the back-foot all of the hard work building the relationship has been compromised.

It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.

(Source: Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner)

So, why not turn the tables and consider how you would react to the situation if you were
in your customers’ shoes?

Example: Take two suppliers. Both deliver fantastic results on time, are cost effective and reliable.

Supplier 1 - delivers the above service and meets customer expectations

Supplier 2 - delivers that same service, but is in regular touch with you by:

  • keeping you fully informed about job progress
  • reassuring you about delivery
  • ensuring aftersales service for complete customer satisfaction
  • shows an interest in your feedback
  • in summary, exceeds your expectations

Who would you choose?

“71% of customers have ended their relationship due to poor customer service.”
(Source: KissMetrics)

2. Surprises aren't always a good thing!

No customer wants to hear bad news - especially when it’s too late! On-going communication guarantees all parties are informed and part of the journey. The only surprises your customers want to hear about are good ones.

3. Don't make promises you can't keep

Nothing annoys a customer more than a broken promise. Your strategy for customer retention should always be to under-promise and over-deliver.

“91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.” (Source: Lee Resources)

4. Be ahead of the game

If you aren't up on industry developments (yours and theirs), how do you expect to be ahead of the curve? Customers want to have faith that you will always deliver 110%. You have to keep up with market developments to be sustainable. It’s an extreme example, but look what happened to HMV…

5. Listen to your customers

Customer retention is the name of the game. Listen to what your customers have to say, value their opinion and feedback, and aim to keep them loyal.

“According to consumers, customer service agents failed to answer their questions 50% of the time.” (Source: Harris Interactive)

6. Speak their language

If a customer is angry don't just say: ‘I understand you’re frustrated.’ They are angry not frustrated. And this is exactly what they are muttering under their breath. If a problem needs resolving, empathise and listen to your customer. And speak their language – it will help!

7. Protect your reputation

Any business with customers is in the ‘people’ business. It is vital that every problem or complaint is both resolved and turned into a positive. The wrong PR can be your undoing.

“News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.”

(Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs)

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Lindsey Witcherley

This post was written by Lindsey Witcherley

As Inbound Director, Lindsey is responsible for driving overall inbound strategy and marketing automation.

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