Takeaway: 6 businesses share their approach to wowing and winning back lost customers. Find out what matters most to your customers, and go beyond their expectations.
Reading time: 8 minutes
Wouldn’t it be great if you could win back lost customers? If every person who came into contact with your business was bowled over by your customer service?
Exceptional customer service drives the best online businesses.
So how do these businesses approach customer service?
How do they make sure customers are never left in any doubt that they are valued above all else?
6 businesses share their approach to wowing and winning back lost customers.
6 Ways to Wow Customers
Nobody raves to their friends about average customer service.
Meet their minimum expectations and they might return another day.
But their head will be swayed by the offer of exceptional customer service elsewhere.
And they certainly won’t stick their neck out amongst friends to recommend your company.
However – if you go that extra step (not too much further in most cases) you’ll win their loyalty for life, and maybe a few from their personal network too.
Every company’s customers differ in their expectations. Meaning each business may have to take a unique approach to wow their customers.
Here are 6 ideas to get you started.
1. Calm and Understanding: Kayla Farr, Ultimate Paintball
The most recent “Wow!” moment I had actually happened just yesterday.
A woman had called in expecting the worst customer service, I could tell as soon as she began her story about returning an item.
She was somewhat rude at first but I never let that sort of thing discourage me from being polite and civil.
I always put myself in the customer’s position and think about how I would like to be talked to and helped.
So when she had finished her explanation, I then explained our return policy to her in a few sentences and I offered a store credit (this woman had really been through the ringer).
She graciously accepted and complimented me on being so calm and understanding even when she “wasn’t being the nicest person”.
2. Recommend a Competitor: Tom Kemper, Playing Cards and More
We wow customers on a regular basis, or at least we try to.
When we do not sell the item a potential customer is looking for, we freely recommend a competitor of ours that is better suited to meet the customer’s needs, this always impresses the customer.
We believe in answering the phone in person, no need for a customer to work their way through a myriad of options.
We believe in prompt, friendly service from a member of our team who is motivated by successful customer service.
3. Over and Above Expectations: Barney Byfield, Davpack
We “wow” customers every day.
We get lots of praise about our speed of delivery and keeping customers informed, which is over and above general expectations.
We do this by treating every customer as an important customer.
Making sure our customers know that when they ring us during office hours, they’ll always get to speak to a person – never a machine.
By getting everyone in the business to think about the customer, so that we sometimes do inconvenient things for us, but actions that fulfil our promises.
Customer service is a massive positive. When you get it right, customers come back and the business grows.
That sense of doing a great job and moving forward creates a great buzz around the business.
4. Do the Unexpected: Mark Vautour, Landry’s
This part is fun for me. I don’t think of this as customer service I just think of it as just having fun and doing the unexpected.
I’ve driven customers home before when the weather is bad, I like to write thank you notes (always hand written), I’ve dropped products off at customers’ houses, and on many occasions I’ve loaned out my personal gear.
We tend to see a lot of customers from out of town, I love to recommend restaurants and other local attractions that are not necessarily Landry’s specific as hospitality should be genuine and not forced.
I want our customers to love Boston as much as I do. This in turn will reflect on Landry’s.
Begin each situation with the confidence that you will solve it in a way that everyone will be happy and feel good about the ending.
This confidence that every situation has a great ending is crucial
Say I’m sorry. It can be hard but say it like you mean it. Don’t blame someone else. If you don’t say “I’m sorry” you are likely wasting everyone’s time.
Relate to the customer in their shoes. Let them know you understand the whole situation. Being understood makes everything else easier.
This is the fun part. Often times I ask “What does a positive ending look like to you?”. You’ll be surprised how reasonable most people are when given the opportunity.
5. No Questions Asked: Wendy Shankin-Cohen, Dr. Harvey’s
We have the joy of “wowing” our customers all the time.
First of all, we answer almost every email that we receive within 24 hours.
Secondly, we have a “no questions asked” return policy.
If a customer is not happy with any product, we will take it back for a complete refund – every time.
And last but certainly not least, Dr. Harvey will speak directly to pet owners to guide them through the transition to a healthier life.
Customers are “wowed” by all of this and very appreciative. We get many lovely messages from grateful pet owners.
It’s the best part of our job. This engenders loyalty and what you give to your customers comes back to you ten-fold.
6. Take Time to Teach: Sondra Halperin, Telikin
We sell computers for new computer users and those wanting an easier-to-use computer solution.
Our goal is to wow customers on each call by providing the kind of service that can’t be found in other computer support organisations.
Every day we teach customers how to use the computer – not just address technical issues. This allows us to provide a personalised approach to learning and a more personable experience overall.
Our most challenging situations involve customers who become frustrated using the computer and want to return.
This is often due to misunderstandings that arise from inexperience.
The most effective technique is to fill in the gaps by helping the customer understand what they are experiencing, and providing any resolution or guidance for moving forward.
For example, a customer may feel the computer is not working because the weather display is not updating.
It may be easy to surmise that their internet connection is no longer active and that a power cycle of the computer and/or modem may be required.
However, ensuring the customer understands how the computer and internet work together – and how to easily recognise and resolve this situation in the future – will make their computing experiences more pleasurable vs seeing it as a dead end.
We exercise this approach continuously throughout the day.
6 Ways to Win Back Lost Customers
You put in all the hard work to win a customer in the first place. Sometimes it can take just a little bit of effort to prevent them leaving if something’s gone wrong.
In fact, it’s 6-7 times more cost effective to win back lost customers than to replace them with new ones.
How should you go about winning back those customers?
1. Feeling of Importance: Kayla Farr, Ultimate Paintball
Ahh, saving a sale. This is one of my most favourite things.
Anybody in customer service knows that moment when you’re about to lose a sale and you turn into the Salesperson of the Year.
You do all that you can to get that customer back and to make them feel like they are the only thing that matters.
This is my go-to technique for winning any customer back. Truly, all humans have a desire to feel important.
Whether it’s offering them free shipping, or a store credit, or a free t-shirt you should always make your customers feel important, but going that one extra step is what really seals the deal.
2. Returns: Tom Kemper, Playing Cards and More
We often wow customers by accepting returns long after the stated return period.
We wouldn’t be in existence today if we did not commit to superior customer service years ago.
We treat every customer the way we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
As a result we have many loyal customers that buy from us year after year.
3. Time, Cost and Quality: Barney Byfield, Davpack
Time, cost and quality are the key aspects to get right in packaging.
We win business from competitors because we are more reliable one or more of these factors.
Simply having around 5,000 items in stock for companies to call off in small quantities means that we win on lead time and stock commitment, which is often more important than being the cheapest on everything.
That’s because packaging is low value compared to the goods being transported, but a delay in packaging holds up a business and poor packaging leads to expensive damages.
4. Apologise Sincerely: Mark Vautour, Landry’s
I’ve won back many a customer by replying quickly and apologising sincerely.
Most issues are a simple misunderstanding.
Many customers just want to be heard. Ask with sincerity what’s on their mind and they will likely tell you.
I then try and repeat back to them what you think they’ve just told you.
When you are trying to do the right thing and they don’t see that at times it can be hard not to take it personally.
When this happens I try to give the customer the benefit of the doubt.
You never know who is dealing with a tough personal situation and taking it out on you because you are standing in front of them.
5. Full-sized Sample: Wendy Shankin-Cohen, Dr. Harvey’s
Recently we came out with a new product that replaced a product that many of our customers loved.
Many of our regular customers did not like the change.
We listened to our customers and when we improved the product, we sent some of those customers who complained a free full-sized sample of the new product.
These customers were thrilled, surprised and very grateful. And have begun ordering again.
6. Understanding: Sondra Halperin, Telikin
As a manager, I have to deal with the most challenging customer situations through escalation.
However, the best example I can give you is a conversation I saw in chat the other day where an agent described how he calmed a furious customer who thought their computer was being hacked.
The customer explained that they could “hear” someone downloading a virus to the computer.
The agent asked if the customer was experiencing hot weather in their area.
The customer said it was in the 70’s.
The agent explained that when the computer gets warm, the internal fan goes off more frequently to cool it, and that the fan noise is audible – and could that possibly be what they were hearing?
Once the customer understood this, they did a complete turnaround, being satisfied that no harm was being done to their computer.
I thought this was a simple and elegant way to help a customer with great results. It proves to me that understanding is the key to happy customers.
Resources to Wow and Win Back Lost Customers
- Regularly collect customer feedback to find out if something’s gone wrong
- Use the three golden rules of requesting customer feedback
- Make feedback forms customer-friendly
- Become a customer service ninja
- Ask the right customer feedback questions
Even more practical customer service tips
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