12 Most Essential Ways to Honor Your Customers

12 Most Essential Ways to Honor Your Customers

It’s no mystery that people appreciate being valued and treated with dignity. You would be hard pressed to find a human being out there who doesn’t want to be treated like they matter. It’s also no mystery that your customers are people too, but often forgotten is the incredible opportunity businesses have to strengthen the rapport with your customers on a daily basis. How? By doing what I call “honoring your customers”.

By honoring your customers I don’t mean that you should immortalize them in the form of bronze statues and place them in the lobby of your office. It’s about understanding that no matter where your customers engage with your business, it is an opportunity to shine and make them feel valued. Not only by offering a great product or service, but an great customer experience.

How you honor your customers may vary depending on your business, but here is my list of the most essential ways that any business can make your customers feel valued and appreciated during their entire experience with your business.

1. Hire employees that are passionate about helping your customers

I remember recently going to a big chain electronic store to purchase a new laptop. The process was taking a while as I found the model I was looking for which they had on special. I apologized for having the sales associate run around the store so much for me. His answer, “No problem. Whatever gets me closer to the end of my shift.” Are you or your employees just looking forward to the end of your shift or are you excited about helping and engaging your customers? Passionate employees give off an infectious energy that attracts customers and makes them feel appreciated.

2. When you make a mistake provide a sincere, prompt apology

We all make mistakes don’t we? We are humans after all, but two the worst things that you can do when a mistake is made is to spout off excuses that caused the mistake or deny any wrong doing for days, week or months only to then apologize in the end. Your customers are rarely interested in anything other than finding a solution to their problem and finding it fast. They are often very forgiving when provided a prompt, sincere apology. Drawing out the inevitable compromises the trust that you have worked hard to build with your customers.

3. Don’t pass the buck

There are few things worse than being told “That’s not my department” or “I don’t have the access to help you with that.” An easy way to relieve this is to make sure that you never leave a customer hanging. If you are not the one with the answer then make sure your customer gets placed into the hands of someone who has it. Your customers will appreciate the time and effort you saved them.

4. Leave your emotional baggage at home

We all have bad days, but if you just can’t seem to shake that gray cloud over your head then please call in sick. Your moaning, slouching, and frowning is contagious.

5. Listen first, then speak

Whether it’s your marketing, customer service or a consultation… take advantage of the opportunity to listen to your customers first. This is a skill that many folks know of, but find hard to grasp. There are many benefits to listening to your customers, one of the biggest being that it makes them feel valued. This goes for online and offline communications.

6. Let your customers rate and review your products or services

If you have a great product then you have nothing to fear. If you don’t then you will soon find out.

7. Create or share great content

Books, webinars, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, tutorials, lessons, events… what content can you share or produce that will make your customers do what they love better, faster, stronger, smarter?

8. Make it easy to return or exchange items

Costco is famous for their laid back return policy. They make it extremely easy for folks to feel comfortable purchasing expensive items from them. You might not be able to be as lenient as Costco, but reducing the risk of being stuck with a bad purchase instills confidence and peace of mind in customers.

9. Make your web site easy to navigate

“If you build it, they will come.” is what many businesses seem to think when they build their web site. They may come, but once they get there they will be scratching their heads as they try to find what they want. Put some effort into making your web site stupid simple to navigate.This means asking those outside of your business if your proposed navigation makes sense. Remember, it’s not you who has to use the site. It’s the hundreds or potentially thousands of customers who are not as familiar with your clever attempt to nest your product pages 4 levels deep in the site.

10. Make transactions painless

How how much time does it take for your customers to choose a product or service and then have it in hand? Improving this could save them enough time and hassle to beat rush hour, catch their favorite show, enjoy a meal with the family or do anything other than try to hand you their money. If you have ever purchased anything from an Apple store you will know just how effortless a purchase can be.

11. Feature your customers in a blog post.

Your customers are incredible aren’t they? Especially those that stick with you through thick and thin or passionately share how much they enjoy your product. Share the spot light with them via a tweet, status update, video or blog post. Tell others how cool they are and show them they are appreciated. They will love it.

12. Smile and say, “Hello.”

You might just make their day doing something this simple!

So are you are ready to implement some of these suggestions into your business? It takes a little time and energy, but the benefits are beyond worth it. In a hyper connected world where customers share their experiences with others, whether good or bad, what do you want them saying about you? Ultimately it’s just good policy to treat others like they matter and are valued.

How do you honor your customers? As a customer yourself, did you have a poor experience that could have been avoided had the business honored you in one of these ways?

Image courtesy of takethemoneyandrun. Used under creative commons, some rights reserved.

Adam Helweh

http://www.secretsushi.com

Adam Helweh is the founder and creative mind behind Secret Sushi Creative, a new media marketing, creative design and social media consulting agency. As a speaker, writer, designer, and passionate advocate for new media and business, Adam spends far too much time connected to the tubes of the internet. During his free time he can be found Taiko drumming, cooking or enjoying time with his very supportive wife. He loves to meet new folks so reach out and say hello to him on the social web

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21 comments
mojohelpdesk
mojohelpdesk

Have to agree that way too many companies avoid #2 even though it can be the quickest way to calm a customer down and begin providing the service they need. Too many companies refuse to admit when they are wrong for legal or just public image reasons.

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

#2 is the most powerful way we can connect as humans, in my humble opinion! Too often, employees rely on the "company way" instead of just being human. Apologizing, sincerely and promptly as you point out, is a perfect way to connect FOR REAL. Outstanding list! Bravo!

pbehnia
pbehnia

I love #5. One of my mentors is 1/2 Japanese and he told me that in Japanese, the verb is the last word in a sentence which forces one to listen all the way through to know what to say or how to react. That's been a big aid to me when I'm talking to others. It's easy to assume you know the direction of the sentence - let someone finish the thought! You'll all be better off for it!

dabarlow
dabarlow

Hi Adam, great list in your excellent post. #4 reminds me of the term I use, take a "Mental Health" sick day to put the spring back In your step & sunny smile on your face to interact with customers or even coworkers. #5 oh yes this one is hard to do for most of us. If you are truly listening, sometimes it is what the customer isn't saying that is their pain point or concern. Thank You for creating this @12most post!

douglaserice
douglaserice

Fantastic list, Adam! I love 'em all but #4 particularly grabs my attention. It always puzzles me when employers want their employees to be at work unless they are actually dying or dead. Personally, I would rather an employee not show up at all than to have one show up and do a poor job serving my customers. Give 100% or go home! I love it!

margieclayman
margieclayman

Great post Adam. My favorite is #5 - listen first. This is advice we all need to heed across many walks of life. It came up in Meghan's post about meetings too. It comes up when we talk about leadership of any kind.

So often, we are itching to go into our automatic pilot mode. "Our company policy is blah blah blah." "To fix that you need to blah blah blah." Check it off the list, on to the next one. But do we really listen anymore? Survey says...maybe not.

Excellent post!

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

Excellent list Adam. I'd add one more and this is really hard for me, but if you can remember customer's names you're GOLDEN in their eyes!

JenJenkins
JenJenkins

It's surprising that more companies don't take the time to encourage these basic, common sense people skills into their employees. Guess that is what makes good businesses stand out.

secretsushi
secretsushi

I agree completely. You will be armed with so much better information and context if you listen first. Additionally, your customer will appreciate that you took the time to hear them out before reacting.

secretsushi
secretsushi

@dabarlow I appreciate your comment. Sometimes we have to be a little more aware of how our bad days effect those we serve and do business with. Bad days can certainly get worse if you infect your customers/clients with your gloomy attitude.

secretsushi
secretsushi

@douglaserice I love "Give 100% or go home!". Too much emphasis on productivity and not enough on a great customer experience. Without the latter you won't need to worry about the former because your business will be scraping for customers.

secretsushi
secretsushi

@margieclayman "auto-pilot" is definitely a mode many of us are in throughout the day, in our personal and professional lives alike. Not good.

secretsushi
secretsushi

@BruceSallan Yup. The little things mean a lot. Can't get any mor personal than noticing someone and calling by their name. One of the easiest and most effective ways to honor them.

dabarlow
dabarlow

@BruceSallan this is a awesome addition, I do like it when a business remembers and calls me by my name!

secretsushi
secretsushi

@JenJenkins They don't believe it can scale. They would rather find a mediocre middle ground of neutrality that seems easier to implement across their business. What's easier for them is not best for their customers unfortunately. Those that go the extra mile reap the rewards.

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