We recently read the book Engagement Marketing from Constant Contact’s CEO Gail Goodman and it inspired us to write this article on how you can create a virtuous cycle that generates repeat customers and positive word of mouth for your business. It’s a critical task for almost any small business and it’s something that we get asked about all the time.
Everyone wants to have customers who come back time after time and more importantly customers who tell their friends great things about why they love your products and services. The one thing that many small business owners don’t realize is that it all starts by delivering a great customer experience! The virtuous cycle of engagement and positive word of mouth marketing has the following three steps:
- Provide a great customer experience
- Engage your customers
- Empower your customers to share their experience
Getting loyal customers and positive word of mouth for your business is critical for your success and in this article we’ll discuss several tips that can help you achieve this.
1. Provide a great customer experience.
Take advantage of every opportunity to WOW your customers. Every time a person visits your store, sends you an email or calls your business they’re giving you an opportunity to deliver a great customer experience. This probably seems obvious, but when you recall your recent experiences with different businesses you’ll realize that only a handful of small business owners and employees really go the extra mile and leave a strong positive impression on you as a customer.
As a small business owner you get the chance to build a culture and it is up to you to decide how this translates into customer experience. It’s important to highlight the word experience, since every time a customer has an interaction with your company they leave with a feeling (good or bad) that they take home. This is what they’ll remember every time they think of your business.
Making sure your customers have an amazing experience with your business is a great starting point to building a great business.
Try to ask yourself: If someone had to pay for every business interaction they had with me, what would they be willing to pay for? Once you understand what your customers value, you will figure out ways to improve that experience and really surprise and WOW them.
Wowing your customers can mean going the extra mile and offering more than what they thought they were going to get; for example a free sample of your upcoming product that is “for insiders” only. It can also mean sending them a note on their birthday with a special discount or simply offering a connection with someone that will help them move along in their business or daily lives.
Another thing your customers might appreciate is when you say: “You’re better off buying this cheaper product (even though I’ll make a smaller profit today) than this more expensive one that has features that you will never use”. In other situations a courteous and respectful conversation might be enough to let them know you care.
Customers will be wowed when you put yourself in their shoes, when you understand their perspective and when you give them the products, services or advice that really suit their needs. Go out of your way to give every customer, lead, or even vendor, a great experience. Offer a smile and surprise them; it will create a positive dynamic and generate a good feeling that they will take home and possibly even share with their friends and family.
2. Engage your customers.
Develop a relationship and engage in a conversation. Remember that after your customer visits your store or your website, it’s easy for them to forget about you. Make sure you stay in touch with them and offer them relevant content over time. Send them information about your company, your products or events – always try to think of what would they be interested in learning about. It can be something about your industry or any other piece of information that they will enjoy and value. Some ideas that might help:
After a purchase
- Send them a follow-up email showing them complementary products they might like.
- Send them a note when a new product comes out.
After a product or service inquiry
- Offer a free consultation.
- Send a follow-up email asking them to like your Facebook business page or follow your Twitter account.
- Send a survey asking them to rate the interaction they just had with you.
If you’re interested in learning more about engagement you can read our blog posts on:
- 4 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement
- Engaging on Facebook
- Engaging on Twitter
- Engaging website content
3. Empower your customers to share their experience.
Now that you have given a customer an amazing experience and engaged them it’s important to provide the right avenues for them to share it. This can be as simple as:
- Include a note in your product or send a follow-up email asking them to review your company, product or service (Yelp or Google Place page links can be an easy way for you to start building your online reputation).
- Create a contest where they can share with you and others (through your social media accounts) how they are using your products. For example: Post a picture of you using your new product and the picture with the most likes will receive a free product.
- Ask up front for a referral to other customers and offer them an incentive (like a discount on their next order) for every new lead they give you.
After they review your product or service, whether the review was positive or negative, be sure to address it in a timely way. Engage in conversation and try to see what they loved, what they hated and let them know you care!
Once you have embraced these simple steps to wow, engage and empower your customers, you will see the results of your word of mouth marketing develop over time.
Remember that like everything in marketing, this is a process that takes time and you must be consistent in your effort to build this virtuous cycle of engagement and positive word of mouth for your business. Get out there and provide a great experience for your next customer! image credit: Claudio Matsuoka