By Stefan Kazakis
Special to MPA
As you know by now, a key part of the color of your business is how you treat your customers. Without customers your business is nothing, even if you have the greatest products or services in the world. If people aren’t buying, you have an expensive hobby, not a business.
So let’s have a look at how you delight your customers. Not satisfy, delight.
If you want your customers to come back to you time and time and time again, just meeting their needs is not good enough. There are dozens, and maybe even hundreds, of other businesses out there that will meet your customers’ needs just as well as you can. It’s the minimum standard to be in business at all. To build a prosperous and sustainable machine that puts money in your pocket for years to come, you need to be proactive and think outside the square.
You need to keep getting better and be an innovator. You can’t simply wait until there’s a problem and then step in and help. You need to offer the solution to the problem, and more. You need to see the problem before they do. You should always be communicating with your customers and seeing what else you can do to help – there will always be something. If you run a gym, can you open up a small crèche to look after the kids while the parents do a workout? If you’re a mechanic, start washing your customers’ cars at no extra cost. If you sell computers, throw in a free game with every computer sold so the kids can’t wait to get home and use it. Go above and beyond. That’s how you delight your customers. That’s how you keep them coming back.
If you own a restaurant, feed them! Have an abundance mindset; don’t have an attitude of scarcity. Give them an extra glass of wine. Keep bringing them bread throughout the meal. Bring a free bowl of chips for the kids. The small cost will disappear into insignificance when you start turning your customers into raving fans who come back to your restaurant time and time again and they also tell their friends.
Make a Customer Delight Culture a non-negotiable part of the color of your business. Don’t just serve your customers, wow them! Make sure all your staff have the same approach. Show them that you care, not with a fake smile and a voucher for $10 off next time but by genuinely caring and being interested. Play dumb and dig deep. Make them feel as if they are the most important customer you have ever served – because they are. Each and every client is vital to the ongoing success of your business.
A great question to ask yourself is, “How can I give my customers something more than they expect?”
It’s simple but powerful. And here’s the key to creating a true Customer Delight Culture: you need to think outside the box when you answer this question. A crèche in a gym, washing cars for a mechanic and free games with a computer are great steps in the right direction, but they are just the beginning. What about giving your clients movie tickets, or a voucher for a restaurant, or sending flowers on their birthday? Business owners often look a bit surprised when I make these suggestions. It usually goes something like this: “But I run a gym; why would I give them movie tickets?” I want you to have a think about this right now. Why would you give them movie tickets? Do you have the answer yet? Think about it … It’s actually really simple. You’d give them movie tickets because they’ll love it! That’s it! It doesn’t necessarily need to be related to your business. It doesn’t always have to be something they’ll expect from you or related to your products or services. Imagine if you signed up for a gym membership and you received a welcome letter that contained two gold-class movie tickets. Or you picked your car up from the mechanic and the tickets were sitting on the front seat. Wouldn’t you be blown away? Wouldn’t you tell your friends? I sure would.
The critical non-essentials matrix
What are five things you can do for your customers that are critical for them to be delighted but that are not essential? Let’s have a look at what I call the Critical Nonessentials Matrix.
Below are five random and surprising examples of what you can do to delight your clients. The key is the surprise element. If it’s not surprising it will become an essential and lose its impact. If your client expects something it won’t wow them nearly as much. So, give them a hand-written thank you card thanking them for their custom and achievement; buy them movie tickets. And don’t be cheap – get gold-class tickets; give them a free product or service upgrade or a voucher for a related business; take them out for a coffee, or lunch or dinner; send them a gift on their birthday (not a voucher for your business – this is not an opportunity to get another sale, it’s an opportunity to wow your customer).
Now let’s have a look at how each of these fits into the Critical Non-essentials Matrix. If you have a look at the diagram you’ll see that we have ‘cost’ going from low to high on the vertical axis and ‘level of difficulty’ going from easy to hard on the horizontal axis. What you have to do now is fit each of these five bonuses for your customers into the matrix according to cost and degree of difficulty. You can see I’ve done it for the five examples.
Prepare a list like this for your business. You can use these five, or you can come up with five other bonuses that you think will be more appropriate for your customers. It’s also a good idea to work out a timeframe over which these events will occur, so as part of your plan you need to work out what actions you are going to take over a period of, for example, six months. Then draw yourself a diagram like the one above, and insert each of these items in the appropriate place.
This matrix allows you to decide how you will use these five activities in your business. Thank-you cards are of course cheap and easy. Movie tickets and a gift will probably cost a bit more but are also easy. A meal with a client takes a bit more effort, as does an upgrade.
Your low-cost and easy ideas must be done often. There’s no excuse not to do them. The more expensive and difficult things can be done when appropriate, but they must still be done. Don’t think of these as a cost; think of them as an investment in the long-term success of your business. And once you have this system and culture in place, don’t think you need to stop at five – keep going! Keep coming up with new and inventive ways to delight your current and future customers.
Stefan Kazakis is a business strategist, sought-after presenter and speaker, and author of the new book, From Deadwood to Diamonds (Major Street Publishing, $29.95). He is a futurist and an inspiring communicator, with the voice of experience. For more information, please visit www.stefankazakis.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.