This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
Have happy customers and you’ll increase your likelihood of success.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
There’s a reason why Yelp’s influence can make or break a restaurant in a matter of just a few reviews — customer service is the be-all and end-all of good business. Customers are the backbone of every business and while acquiring them is difficult, retaining them can be even trickier.
If a business is having to constantly find new customers, it’s going to struggle to create any long-lasting growth. Meanwhile, if another business can keep its customers happy, those customers will refer the business to new customers. A good referral from a happy customer is far more valuable to a business than the savviest marketing campaign.
The founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, was reportedly such a stickler for providing exceptional customer service with his company that he would do so even when a customer was trying to take advantage of a return policy. It’s that sort of “the customer is always right” approach that has helped make Walmart and its sister company, Sam’s Club, retail giants.
Providing great customer service is hardly a new pillar of a successful business, however, its importance for startups can’t be underestimated. An entrepreneur often only gets one chance to make a good impression on a new customer, so it’s imperative that they stand out from the competition. What can your business do to go the extra mile that others might ignore? What different mediums can you explore to receive the most thorough customer feedback?
Investing in creating a helpful experience for the consumer can be the difference between a business going belly up after five years or continuing on for decades. One successful business I observed encourages visitors to reach out with any questions through a chat feature immediately upon visiting their website. It’s this kind of dedication to adapting their customer service with the times that have resulted in 40 years of business.
Of course, the opposite can also be true for a company, and all it takes is a single headline to unravel years of success. Take United Airlines for example. The company’s stock plummeted in 2017 after a video of the mistreatment of a customer went viral.
With the rise of online shopping and social media platforms, the importance of a company going above and beyond to treat the consumer well has skyrocketed. In 2019, 86 percent of buyers were willing to pay more if they receive great customer experience, and 73 percent say a positive customer experience impacts their buying decisions.
When customers connect with a business today, they expect to be attended to as if they were talking with a representative face-to-face, no matter if it’s via Instagram, Twitter, or some other channel. While this may seem daunting for any business to handle, it also can be of monumental value.
A festival apparel company has used its Instagram account as a way of improving upon its customer service by asking consumers to share photos of them in their clothing. It’s not only a way for the brand to interact with customers and hear what they like or don’t like, but it also provides a valuable advertising platform generated by the customers themselves.
With many millennials today shunning traditional advertising, brands that go out of their way to create unique and amazing customer interactions can buck the trend.
A company can write its own motto in regards to providing a customer experience, but at the end of the day, it’s the customer who checks off whether it was delivered. The businesses that meet and go above to deliver on that promise will thrive, the rest will be left behind.